Data Literacy & Data Empowerment

One important goal of our research activities and public outreach is to make a humble contribution to increasing general data literacy in society: to stimulate critical thinking about digital trends that are changing diverse sectors in the private and public spheres.

For us, data literacy goes beyond numeric skills and knowledge about statistics. It is about awareness for the impact of datafication and automation, resilience against data malpractices (e.g., exploitation), understanding data risks (e.g., surveillance, biases), and being able to articulate viewpoints on technological trends that have profound implications for how we go about our daily lives. While we advocate a firm understanding of numbers, our main goal is critically discussing and informing about the societal impact of the digital transformation.

We consider data literacy as a form of conceptual knowledge and skills in critical thinking about big data and artificial intelligence that directly connects to critical media literacy as well as more practical internet- and computer skills. Data literacy has in our work a strong political notion, as we perceive it as a key element in building more equal relationships between users and data-driven organisations in sustainable data ecologies.

Data literacy is a key factor in Data Empowerment. It is not a “silver bullet” that will protect people by itself but rather is an important component for more inclusive discourses about technology. Our work contributes to this effort through:

  • Theorising data literacy and data empowerment as conceptual frameworks
  • Researching digital cultures and the social-cultural impact of the digital transformation on society
  • Researching public discourses and perception of data-driven technologies
  • Researching data risks
  • Empirical research on data literacy in society
  • Developing educational tools and guidelines for data literacy courses

Our interdisciplinary team combines different practical and academic backgrounds and we work in the dynamic intersection of critical data studies, communications- and media studies, computer sciences, media technology, and digital design.

Photo by Stephen Dawson