Inspire to Change: How we think about data and data use By A. Rafael Johnson

The conventional way of looking at data is very effective at keeping the complex and messy lives of people as far from power as possible. It says that the highly educated and wealthy define the problems, solutions, and measures of success. Everything that falls outside of these pre-definitions is unreliable, un-measurable, unverifiable, or untrustworthy. That way keeps wealth in the hands of philanthropy and industry, decisions in the mouths of policymakers, and knowledge in the academy. That way maintains the status quo.

 

But what if we don’t maintain the status quo? What if we challenge these ideas about data? What if, instead of using our methods to create and use reliable datasets so people can trust in our analyses and make data-driven decisions, what if we start with trust and see what happens? What if we start by trusting the people in the communities we work with, and then create the conditions that lets them trust us? What if they're the ones making decisions...

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