Today is the kickoff of Love Data Week during which the DePaul University Library will be joining universities around the world to celebrate data and dialogue about data-related topics. This year’s theme is Data Stories and today we will be talking about Stories about Data.
Data makes news regularly; not simply to prove a fact within a story, but news stories that are specifically about data. We hear about companies that are routinely the victims of massive data breaches; we read articles that consider what Amazon, Facebook, and Google do with our data as well as how Fitbit is partnering with a third party for continuous glucose monitoring for diabetics.
While today’s reading is about data, it’s actually about the absence of data and how that affects us as Americans: Mass Shootings, Climate, Discrimination: Why Government’s Fear of Data Threatens Us All.
Would you like detailed information about arrests, homicides, and gang murders in 2016? Well, the FBI isn’t giving it to you anymore. How about melting Arctic ice? Nope; Congress is dismantling a satellite that was supposed to update the aging monitor network. Climate change? Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, doesn’t think human beings cause it and, more importantly, doesn’t really think you can measure anything to find out. The weather? Forget it; the National Weather Service is coming apart at the seams. How many people live in the United States, data critical to determining political representation and funding priorities? Yeah, no—the 2020 Census is shaping up to be an epic disaster.
It’s hard to imagine a good argument for knowing less—about anything, really, but especially about difficult problems with profound policy implications. The government is supposed to base policy on the best data possible, along with political concerns, budget concerns, social priorities … the usual warp and weft of running a country.
What obstacles do you face in working with data?
Where do you search for data?