Putting data at the centre of decision-making and interpretation opens up many possibilities, but it also involves a number of risks. This “data-centrism” encourages the idea that whatever the problem, the answer lies in data. But numbers do not always reveal the whole truth and they can be manipulated and skewed to tell a particular story. By concentrating on data alone, we also ignore the fact that our society can thrive on more disordered mechanisms such as negotiation and debate. Although data can help us understand the world in important new ways, it is important to remember that there is often room for subjectivity and ambiguity.
In this chapter, hear from international data experts, artists, and visionaries whose lives are dedicated to retrieving, analysing, and interpreting data, about its limitations.