Day 2

Dan Hill and Mitchell Whitelaw gave presentations in the morning session, to help frame the rest of the project.

Dan’s talk covered a lot of ground, from urban informatics (data drawn from the urban environment via sensors and probes) to city information models to urban information design (dropping information back into the urban realm). These ideas are expressed in his diagrams here, and his piece The Street as Platform provides a kind of forebear, whereas his Adaptive City essay provides a theoretical rationale as to where these ideas could go, in terms of suggesting their importance for urbanism.

Mitchell’s talk centred on the ideas explored in his paper, ‘Art Against Information: Case studies in data practice’, discussed how artists are working with data – as opposed to information – and what this means. He suggested the interesting artists – such as Lisa Jevbratt, Brad Borevitz, Jason Salavon – are making works which explicitly make statements about data (“Here’s what data is to me”), which enables a more open process. He also discussed his “Watching the Sky” project, and a recent iteration of it, ‘Watching the Street’, which is particularly apposite for this project. Similarly his work on the National Archive projects indicated approaches to visualising patterns in large data sets. An approach of gathering data, looking for patterns, then asking questions is common to all this work – and is useful in terms of our approach to the street.

During the afternoon, Mitchell ran another little exercise around Processing – based on scraping census data from the NSW 2006 census and visualising patterns. Dan then gave an introduction to the set of ‘web 2.0’ tools that we’ll be using for the course (Flickr, Vimeo, Twitter, Basecamp etc.) and we then switched to looking at external data sources on the web, across environmental data, mobility, demographics, built environment and social software (more to follow on this).

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