BOLD Blog: the making of (and reasons behind) our data walk instruction video

This week, the Centre for BOLD Cities and Knowledge Lab Urban Big Data proudly present an instruction video for DIY data walks. From now on, everyone who is interested in organising and conducting a data walk can use our video in setting this up – and then go on a data walk without ‘supervision’.

Why did we do this?

Since learning about data walks from Alison Powell at the London School of Economics and developing our own adaptation of the concept, we have organised numerous data walks in various forms and shapes, ranging from guided walks with forty students and five guides to walking with a single group of three participants. In some cases, our team only introduced the walk and method, or led the discussion that followed a data walk without accompanying the groups on the walk. All of these forms lead to interesting results – and all are worthwhile in their own way. However, the demand for data walks is beginning to highly outweigh the available time and personnel. Furthermore, since a data walk is all about asking specific questions and taking a walk with a particular mindset, it doesn’t necessarily require the presence of academic staff on the walk itself. Using the video, however, anyone who wants to go on a data walk can nonetheless access our help in setting up their data walk.

How did we do this?

We started the development of this video by writing a script. Having guided and introduced many data walks, we decided on the most important information that prospective groups need to know beforehand, which then made its way into the video. The resulting ‘story’ combines Alison Powell’s original method with some of our own ideas on the concept.

For shooting the video, we used the help of the Erasmus University Media Support Center. With its giant professional studio and editing equipment, the Media Lab team was perfectly capable of helping convert our ideas into the video we have published now. It took a few turns to get the images exactly right (a quick glance to the side may go unnoticed in real life, but is hard to miss in the middle of a video), but in the end, two sessions led to the desired result – which has now been released to a general audience.

Are you going on a data walk with the help of our video? Please let us know what you found out and discussed along the way.

- Luuk Schokker