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Power Station

Apr 11, 2022

Have you ever thought about the stories behind a set of statistical tables? How do political dynamics shape the questions  asked on government forms and how the resulting data translates to federal resources and political representation? And how do we respond when the questions do not fully capture our identify, culture or community? Data about who we are is key to building a more inclusive and representative democracy. This month the 1950 Census was made public, marking the end of the 70-year period in which the individual data of its respondents is maintained confidentially. Historian Dan Bouk views the Census, created by the framers, and enshrined in the US Constitution, as flawed, messy and our best opportunity for a more representative democracy. He considers the act of sharing data on Census forms, the process for counting every person in the U.S. as a radical act. And he believes that those on the margins should count just as much as those who are quantifiable through big statistics. In his upcoming book, Democracy’s Data, Dan illuminates how data, from aggregation to disaggregation grapples with telling our collective American story.