How do making and materials contribute to our understanding of personal data representations? To explore how materials, data, and humans collaborate to produce physical data representations, we created a series of artefacts from personal data we collected (about commuting, forgetting, and busy-ness) in different media: yarn and sound.
We used these data artefacts to interrogate the boundaries between maker and interpreter, and to ask who—or what—has the authority to interpret narrative and assign meaning to data things? We exchanged these artefacts without providing guidelines for how to interpret them in order to study where the boundary between maker and interpreter emerges. In exchanging the artefacts, we explored the role of the interpreter as a re-maker and how multiple narratives can productively co-exist. We conclude with a discussion about how reimagining the roles of maker and interpreter might lead to new interactions with personal data narratives.
Through creating hand-crafted physicalizations and sonifications, we present three themes on making personal data narratives:
matching data to the materials (and vice versa),
accepting the materials’ will to co-author,and
negotiating between the experience of the data and data of the experience.
We found that our relationship to the roles of maker and interpreter is a circular one—we are constantly being reborn from one to the other.
To learn more about our work, read the full paper here or watch a video presentation: