So I hear it is coming around that time in the US, and I find the reactions I see online and from Americans I know to be rather funny. Many people think this is all part of some government ploy to enslave the citizen, and others are running around circles screaming socialism or some overused fear invoking slogan.
As someone who knows a bit about these methodologies and deriving statistics from them I really don't see much of a harm. I don't know much about this one, but I hear it is mandatory by penalty of fine... okay perhaps a little much but I also hear it isn't that long. An approximate 10 minutes of your time. (If I have it wrong please feel free to tell me in the comments and I'll do a re-write).
As a student of the Social sciences I have experience with both Quantitative and Qualitative data, their applications, and the processes around them. I have run a few studies myself, and even participated in a large collective Qualitative one. I also act the part as a participant many times, when those taking consensuses call my house or offer me a short study to fill out for some purpose. (albeit usually useless purpose).
From my point of view I see how these sorts of studies can make an improvement on a society, and in particular reach out those who are not part of the collective. Although it is impossible to please every, it seems to me like a great first step in finding data which can benefit a great deal of many people. This to me cannot be ignored.
I've taken part in such studies as opinion polls about how locals running for a position of government are campaigning to studies trying to determine the rate of depression in university students. Even if they don't have practical implications for the time being, in the future they may be used as a bench mark if you will.
Think of it as a subjective cultural snap shot of a time which in comparison to the future will look totally ridiculous, and hopefully things have progressed positively. :)
Edit: I changed the topic title, I thought it was a clever play on words but.. I realized I'm probably the only human who would associate Census with Consensus... so changed for practicality.