Click to learn more about author Michael D. Shaw.
If we can do one thing in 2019 to increase interest in data, let it be that: to increase interest by way of launching a campaign that appeals to the hearts and minds of teachers and students, of employers and employees, of experts and novices alike; because Data Literacy will be—it already is in some areas—as important as literacy itself; because we cannot elevate data to its rightful place unless we explain its value in the first place; because we cannot afford to have so few know so much, while so many continue to understand so little about data.
That data is essential to the economy is a fact. That data is essential, period, is a lesser (but no less important) fact. Popularizing that fact requires that we be true to the words information technology (IT), that we have an IT branding and marketing campaign that uses technology—from social media to all relevant forms of new media—to inform the public about Data Literacy.
To inform the public is to prepare the public. To use technology to do so is both necessary and right, because never have so many tools been available to so many—for free. Which is to say, one of the best Data Mining tools is the one we use every day, or several times per hour or per minute per day: the newsfeed on Facebook or the tweets on Twitter in which we speak the language of science, in which we comment about memes and acts that go viral, in which we post, share, and retweet content from “friends”—and real-life friends, too—because of something that interests us or speaks to our interests.
This is where our campaign should start.
This is where we can demystify data, so our message has the potential to reach the most people in the shortest time possible.
This is where we should repeat our message, so people have a chance to absorb it.
What, then, is our message?
In a word: necessity. That is, Data Literacy is a necessity for workers and those who seek work. It is a necessity for doctors and nurses, so they can better treat patients and customize treatments; it is a necessity for trade and travel, too, because it influences everything from exchange rates to cultural exchanges between citizens on behalf of their respective countries; it is a necessity, plain and simple.
The sooner we launch this campaign, the more productive we can be.
This campaign is our moment to apply data in a manner that is intelligent and intelligible. The latter begets the former, because the more accessible this campaign is—and the more attainable this effort becomes—the more successful we will all be.
Aware of the significance of this mission, and eager to fulfill our duty by promoting a specific message, we have an opportunity like no other.
Let us honor this campaign by heeding the call to popularize data.
That campaign begins now.
We will accomplish our mission.