Creative data literacy
Bridging the gap between the data-haves and data-have nots
Working with data is an increasingly powerful way of making knowledge claims about the world. There is, however, a growing gap between those who can work effectively with data and those who cannot. Because it is state and corporate actors who possess the resources to collect, store and analyze data, individuals (e.g., citizens, community members, professionals) are more likely to be the subjects of data than to use data for civic purposes. There is a strong case to be made for cultivating data literacy for people in non-technical fields as one way of bridging this gap. Literacy, following the model of popular education proposed by Paulo Freire, requires not only the acquisition of technical skills but also the emancipation achieved through the literacy process. This article proposes the term creative data literacy to refer to the fact that non-technical learners may need pathways towards data which do not come from technical fields. Here I offer five tactics to cultivate creative data literacy for empowerment. They are grounded in my experience as a data literacy researcher, educator and software developer. Each tactic is explained and introduced with examples. I assert that working towards creative data literacy is not only the work of educators but also of data creators, data publishers, tool developers, tool and visualization designers, tutorial authors, government, community organizers and artists.
Keywords: empowerment, data literacy, data visualization, inequality
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