The Importance of Social Data Literacy

At Qlik, we are always exploring new ways to help bring the story behind data to life, whether it’s through augmented analytics, cutting edge visualizations or AI-driven assistance through Insight Advisor built natively in the Qlik Sense platform. We’ve also been pioneers in advocating for data literacy, since we know that when data consumers have a higher level of data literacy, they are empowered to make decisions based on data, not their impressions or inherent biases.

In a world awash in conflicting social messages, this is more important than ever. It’s what I’ve come to think of as social data literacy. And in social data literacy, it’s critically important to consider context.

People are unconsciously unskilled at communicating with data. This applies to our personal and professional lives. This ignorance creates an ethical issue that is profoundly important to all business and societal communities. COVID 19 is a great example of this, where there are conflicting views that lack a focus on how to properly interpret data, which has driven widely diverging and damaging outcomes.

The main issue that social data literacy can combat is the instinct users have of manipulating data to support and foster their own position. People regurgitate charts and other data without an understanding of the source or context. Many “official sources of data” are biased or taken out of context. Often the same data seems to result in differing opinions or is dismissed because it does not support a certain context or point of view.

At Qlik, our vision is to create a Data Literate world and we need to address Data Literacy not only in businesses but also in Social Data Literacy, enabling society with tools, data stories and education to help in the adoption of standards of behavior for communicating and using data. This is one of the main drivers behind our demo team’s great efforts to deliver our recent Presidential Debate application and a data story.

The Qlik Presidential Debate application provides both the current state of the recent debates and media coverage volume, and the historical data that shows the story and analysis of 36 years’ worth of data to provide the all-important context. How much different are these debates in substance than say, the ones during the Bush/Gore debates? Qlik’s presidential debate app helps to provide that vital context. The application can help users to avoid consuming just isolated pieces of information out of context, and can assist in avoiding skewed conclusions on the path to becoming more informed in a non-bias setting.

To provide even more context, we have also created a web data story by using the apps historical data for debate transcripts from the last 36 years. The web story is a powerful, fast, tab-through and friendly way to consume some of the key insights from the application, including what topics the candidates are really discussing, which candidates are more/less positive in the topics they discuss, and how the discourse has changed over time as related to his year’s debates.

Presidential Election Debate Topics & Trends | Qlik

Technology companies like Qlik who deliver data and analytics tools have a significant role to play in bringing a spotlight to the importance of social data literacy. We take this responsibility seriously, and these applications and web stories demonstrate our commitment to delivering resources to further what it means to be “data literate” in an age where data is everywhere.


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