Numerous recent conversations have reminded me of the wisdom of my friend Ric. Whenever I tend to climb on my soapbox talking about the need to create awareness with communities regarding the why’s, what’s, who’s, of data collection, he interjects adding ‘check for understanding’.
Awareness is often perceived to be an act of pushing information out. Billboards, banners, brochures, and perhaps even spam. It can be perceived as shouting. It’s easy to think that because we’ve put information in front of someone that they now are aware. And technically perhaps they are as they are a tiny bit more aware of a new subject.
But awareness and understanding go hand in hand. Most of us are likely aware of ‘blockchain’ because we’ve heard about it. And yet, most of us still have no clue what it is or its practical use.
We need to raise awareness. We need to talk often and different formats with the communities we seek to serve. We need explain to them in multiple ways what data we’d like to collect, why, how we will use it, and with whom we will share it. We also need to provide alternatives to them to still ‘get on the list’ for aid. And while we do this, we need to check for understanding. We need to check now, three weeks from now, and 6 months on or something like that.
And then when we find they don’t understand or no longer understand, we need to start again. Or when we find they do understand, but no longer are happy that we have their data, then we need to be able to do something about it.
In many ways, if the communities we seek to serve understand what we are doing with their data, they likely will ask questions. This should not be feared, it should be welcomed. Perhaps it should even be an indicator of success and understanding.