D/NATIVES, Adah Parris and what data means to young people

This week Helena Schwenk welcomes futurist and cultural strategist Adah Parris to the podcast to discuss the role of data in the lives of D/NATIVES – the generation who’ve grown up immersed in digital culture.

“Data literacy is what enables us to make sense of the world around us, to get a snapshot of the who, what, where, when and how of our past and our present so that we can predict, design and be the architects of our future.”

These are the words of Adah Parris, this week’s guest on the podcast. Adah joined Helena to dive into the results of a recent study by Exasol, the high-performance analytics database, that sought to discover how data is perceived by D/NATIVES – the generation currently in higher education and beginning to enter the workforce. 

The study of 3,000 16- to 21-year-olds found that despite more than half of the respondents (55%) believing that their ability to understand data will be as vital to their future as their ability to read and write, only 43% actually consider themselves to be data literate. Further, a majority (54%) reported being unfamiliar with the term ‘data literacy’ itself.

So, what’s going on? In there a misunderstanding of what data literacy is and means, or is there a genuine lack of education and familiarity around data – from the ways in which our interactions with websites and apps create a digital footprint, to the types of jobs and careers related to data science and analytics?

Listen to the podcast to find out what Helena and Adah think.

Looking for more on the subject?

In this episode, Adah references the work of Robert J. Shiller and his theories on Narrative Economics. You can order his book and learn more about “how stories help drive economic events ­– and why financial panics can spread like epidemic viruses” here.

The discussion around D/NATIVES also touches on the concept of ‘system thinking’. Thea Snow of innovation foundation Nesta has put together a fascinating article on the convergence of big data and system thinking. Check it out here

And finally, if you’re as inspired as we are about the role of data in the world, then ponder these words as you go about the rest of your day:

“While all of the data we have is about the past, all the decisions we make are about the future.”
Alex Hagan Author, Thriving in Complexity

For the full picture and in-depth analysis of the trends explored here, read the ‘D/Natives: The future of your business’ report now.