In an age in which all aspects of life are translated into numbers, we can no longer deny the omnipresence of data in our everyday realities. However, the fact that data is non-haptic and invisible complicates both, a constant perception and a proper debate.
Data Walking wants to challenge these issues by creating real-life experiences with data in space. This ethnographic method, developed by Dr. Alison Powell (London School of Economics and Political Science), allows us to sharpen our senses for the ubiquity of data in our daily surroundings. In the tradition of the flâneurs of Walter Benjamin and Franz Hessel, who take extensive walks through Berlin, data walks aim to “read” the urban space, to collect anecdotes, traces and objects and thus to create a critical picture of the surroundings that are shaped by data. Walking, in this context, is regarded as a cultural practice, a way to develop new viewpoints and to stimulate new debates on data in urban spaces.
The walkshop is designed for groups of five people, in which every participant obtains a certain role: from navigating over mapping, to noting, photographing and finally collecting data. After the walking process, the groups meet again and initiate discussions around datafication in space. Through the individual experience of data and further the debates in a bigger group, Data Walking enables new forms of knowledge generation and perception, that can challenge current logics of big data. As one of the most important conferences about digital culture in the world, re:publica offers an extraordinarily stimulating space for data walks and new debates on datafication.