Creativity and critical data literacy for advocacy

  • Aristea Fotopoulou (Presenter)

Activity: External talk or presentationOral presentation



Big data are everywhere, and they are transforming the way we live. But making sense of data and communicating in ways that are relevant to broad audiences and for the social good requires the skills and literacy to access, analyse and interpret them. Literature on data literacy mostly focuses on administrative and technical competences and is aimed at professionals and service providers (Frank et al, 2016). What do community organisations need to know if they want to communicate in an engaging way? How can data become relevant and accessible for the social good? And how can these skills help them address the critical and ethical questions that relate to data? This paper presents work from an ongoing research project that addresses these questions, and argues that there is pressing need to develop practices that allow civil society to use open data for advocacy, to make data more relevant and appealing to communities, and enable their engagement in policy debates. Situated within emerging debates in the fields of critical data studies and data literacy (Carretero, Vuorikari and Punie, 2017; Dalton and Thatcher, 2014; D'Ignazio, 2017; Hill et al., 2016; Kitchin and Lauriault, 2014), it draws from empirical work that identifies key elements of critical data literacy relevant to community organisations. It reports findings from two workshops with civil society organisations in the Southeast of England where we explored how a combination of creative media, storytelling and analytics allowed participants to generate debates around specific issues that affected their communities, and helped them tell stories that empower them.

Keywords: community, advocacy, open data, citizen engagement, critical data literacy, critical data studies

Carretero, S., Vuorikari, R. and Punie, Y. (2017) DigComp 2.1. The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens. With eight proficiency levels and examples of use. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
D'Ignazio, C., (2017) Creative data literacy. Information Design Journal, 23(1), pp.6-18.
Frank, M., Walker, J., Attard, J. and Tygel, A. (2016) ‘Data literacy - What is it and how can we make it happen?’, The Journal of Community Informatics, 12(3), pp. 4–8.
Hill, Rosemary Lucy, Helen Kennedy, and Ysabel Gerrard. "Visualizing Junk: Big Data Visualizations and the Need for Feminist Data Studies." Journal of Communication Inquiry 40, no. 4 (2016): 331-350.
Kitchin, Rob, and Tracey P. Lauriault. "Towards critical data studies: Charting and unpacking data assemblages and their work. The Programmable City Working Paper 2." (2014).
Period12 Jan 2018
Event titleMeCCSA 2018 - Annual conference of the Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Association
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • data literacy
  • media technologies
  • advocacy
  • civil society