DataStore's First Outing

The DataStore had its first few outings in the last fortnight. In the first instance we set up aspects of the DataStore in the Sackler Centre at the V&A Museum. This was part of the Digital Futures:Urban Open Space alongside NASA and other winning teams from the Urban Prototyping Festival. Although the event was open to the public and many people visited over the two days, one of the main reasons for the event was also for participants to meet, share work and start new collaborations. Over 2 days we had over 200 people in to the space, with over 60 of those people filling in insight cards for our DataBank (see image below). We spoke with people as young as 8 about data and their understanding of it, as well as with very experienced technologists and data scientists. We'll be writing a separate blog post shortly on what the findings were from that.

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The following week, after a whirlwind 3 weeks of design, manufacture and logistics we set ourselves down on our designated site on Old Street, at the junction with Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch. As a winner of the Urban Prototyping Festival we found ourselves at the Shoreditch Digital Festival. The first iteration of the DataStore was crafted from steel, looking sleek against the backdrop of the urban environment.

  

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The DataStore included a number of features designed to spark the curiosity of passers-by:

  • Individually designed Data Jars which tell the story of different types of data - we'd sourced a number of use cases from health, retail, civic society, government, and finance - each label on a jar told the story of how data had been collected and how it had been useful. 
  • DataTrails, an animation which showcases how we generate data naturally as we go through our lives (see blog post below)
  • DataReadings, to help people understand more about their own data and where it could be useful to them
  • The DataBank, to gather insight and feedback. 

 

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Unfortunately on the day the good ol' British weather let us down - it rained all morning and afternoon! None-the-less we wrapped up in warm clothes and wellies and had conversations with passers-by about public and personal data. The DataTrails animation was a great way of introducing the concept to people and the DataJars were definitely a way in to talking with people about data. People wanted to come and pick them up and see what was inside. We found a number of people were skeptical about sharing their personal data, but if they could feel more in control of it and could more clearly see the benefit to them and others they would be more likely to share. People knew less about public/ civic data and it was a reminder how there needs to be more (and better) communication of case studies to the general public about how and where data has been opened/linked/shared etc. 

Having just returned from Helsinki Design Lab's closing event and hearing @timoarnall from Berg talk about nearfield.org I was reminded of the importance of us understanding the technology that tracks us and how the DataStore, especially the DataJars, is a mixture of realities and representations. It has the potential to facilitate "a reflective conversation with materials." 

Click through the images below for our gallery of photos. Thank you again to all our supporters and sponsors.