“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
Data is information. It is used to determine insurance and health care coverage, educational initiatives, housing, advertising, how roads are designed, and what pops up on our screens saying “if you like that, you’ll like this.” We depend on data to craft public policy and inform our
institutional decisions. Nearly all of the choices we make on a daily basis are based on data. We are told that data doesn’t lie, but are we sure? Empirical data points only reflect the finite set of inputs used to generate them, and most people don’t question what those are. We don’t know if policy is data-driven or data-informed, and what is the difference? And how does it impact our daily work in community? We hope to create as many questions as answers with this year’s symposium. We hope that by developing data skepticism we can develop data literacy. We will examine the role data play in determining which communities get services, how race and culture concerns can be subjugated by numbers, how racial policies that have existed for decades are often rooted in analytical prejudice and bias, and why the analyses of data is often unexamined. We will also look at how vulnerable communities are further marginalized by a lack of access to culturally appropriate health, safety and accessibility information. Who determines which communities receive high speed internet? How can every community access culturally appropriate opportunities for civic engagement? Who is not included in data, and why? But most importantly, how can we understand the right questions to ask?