For Neighbouring Data, we created a resource pack of qualitative data comprising narratives, images, poems, photographs, sculptures, videos and maps. This data was drawn from research collected across different University projects working in and with communities across the UK.
We divided the data into three categories: the data unit, where participants had contributed data; the artefact, where the researchers and participants had co-produced an object; the representation, where data units and artefacts had been transformed by an artist. Some data examples fitted more than one category.
We then invited artists, writers, academics and data scientists to find ways of interrogating, reimagining and transforming the qualitative data. We asked practitioners to investigate 8 data examples across 5 projects spanning 6 places.
Practitioners developed their own responses to the qualitative data according to their practice, which included expertise on virtual environments, sound design, hypertexts, creative writing, and data theory. The project was interested in how these practices could interpret data at different scales and what the possibilities for a cross-practice conversation might be.
The practitioner workshop focused on how to discover the connections between different kinds of place-based data. It sought to find ways to aggregate and render meaningful lived experience on place for community decision making, and to understand how communities could expand on these forms of qualitative data.
Our practitioners presented a series of demonstrations, including:
an interactive 3D Minecraft map visualising data about a town that enabled users to intervene in their streetscape by adding or demolishing buildings
an audio-visual piece illustrating different visions of a town’s future that used coloured text and field recordings based on community responses
five satirical online newspaper articles that responded to a fictional government initiative for twinning together towns in the UK
a roadmap for data observatories that considered their infrastructure, stakeholders, ethics, sustainability and social impact
and an explorable website, the Neighbourhood Insight Engine, which had a game-like interface designed to prompt user curiosity about place-based data
From this work, we gained insights on the challenges of applying creative practice to qualitative data and on the possibilities afforded by the data observatory model.