Technology and Media in City Imaging

“Memory is the basis of self-identity ” – What Time is this Place (p. 124)

“Providing the essential information about present and future should also be a recognized a public function” stated Lynch  (What Time is this Place p. 226); He argues the need for both information about present change and for probable near-future state, and the creation of a public temporal model of the city. Furthermore, Lynch poses the relevance for using the city as a gigantic teaching device that systematically exposes children and adults to the rich diversity of people, activities and forms. This is desired in order to foster learning by active involvement (p. 227.) However, since information is a source of power, it may be subject to political pressures. As such, efforts should be made to protect this function from censorship.

At the Civic Data Design Lab, Sarah Williams, seeks to understand data for public good. She and her team seek to develop alternative practices, which can make data and images richer, smarter, more relevant, and more responsive to the needs and interested of citizens traditionally on the margins of policy development. At the lab, their methods borrow from the traditions of science and design by using spatial analytics to expose patterns and communicating those results, through design, to new audiences[1].  Sarah translates data visualizations into policy tools and prototyping technologies for advocacy and research, using survey and census data, GPS information, maps, high- and low-res satellite imagery, analytic graphics, photographs and drawings, along with narratives and qualitative interpretations to produce valuable images[2].

[1] http://www.civicdatadesignlab.org/about/

[2] Text from http://dusp.mit.edu/faculty/sarah-williams (accessed 4.21.13)

Past winners:

Manuel Castells (2001)

Richard Saul Wurman (1991)

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