Design Principles for More-than-Data Walks

Mullagh, Louise and Dunn, Nick and Blair, Lynne (2022) Design Principles for More-than-Data Walks. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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With the rise of the data-driven society, there is a danger of losing insights of unique, nuanced, and complex dynamics that are critical to our understanding of and engagement with place. This research establishes how the use of walking reveals the concept of More-than-Data. This concept forms the basis of a series of design principles capable of engaging with complex, unique, and temporal placed-based data, information, knowledge, wisdom and lived experience. Our understanding and experience of the places we inhabit are being increasingly mediated by technologies, many of which are driven by quantitative, automatically gathered data. These types of data can provide us with huge amounts of information once processed and analysed, however this data-driven mediation of our spaces and places is but one way of understanding and experiencing the world in which we live. Whilst these types of automatically gathered data enable us to gain valuable insights into our world, the reliance upon outsourcing our senses and collecting data are often illegible to many people who do not possess the skills or equipment to engage in these modes of quantifying and mapping place. Other, valuable types of data exist in place, but these are often latent within place or people and more difficult to access. Therefore, those who have much to contribute to increasing knowledge about our world, are often excluded. This research explores the knowledge gap that exists in understanding how these data-driven and situated modes of understanding place might be synthesised and contributes to a growing body of research that explores how we might interrogate the data-driven society through the practice of walking. This nascent approach answers calls for critical approaches to understanding the impact of the data-driven society by moving through a place and exploring what data means in that location. Through the exploration of practices that are located within the data-driven realm the concept of More-than-Data emerged and is defined as “a heuristic guide that encourages and embeds the collection, conceptualisation, interrogation, storage and re-use of data, information, knowledge, wisdom and lived-experience in, from and through place.” To explore how More-than-Data can be embedded within a practice, five walks were designed and carried out. The insights developed through the walks have been synthesised with findings from literature and interviews carried out, to form the basis for a set of design heuristics. The three key contributions to knowledge presented in this research are: 1. The concept of More-than-Data 2. A set of design principles that can be used by a wide range of people that embed More-than-Data in place. 3. The “Pathways Forward” Method that can be used to collate and make sense of emergent findings that brings together diverse types of research data and artefacts.

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Thesis (PhD)
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03 Oct 2022 14:45
Last Modified:
04 Dec 2023 00:56