“There are many technologies built on data from its users to help connect people around the world but many of these systems can produce a feeling of isolation where connectivity is harder to obtain. In this project, our aim was to combat this feeling of isolation by understanding how people can feel connected within their own community. In order to understand this from a bottom-up perspective, we decided to research the ‘local’ and what this may mean for different communities. In this one month, we focus on our process, by field visit, design activities and performance on the street, to get those wield data.
I did the revisit of this project when I came back to Wuhan and stayed in an isolation hotel. I asked myself, what is the aim of data visualization? What is the aim of data? I think data is something that can help us to see the things we can’t see or ignored. At that time, China is in the situation that very few coronavirus cases inside but increasing confirmed cases inbound. International students are one of the most debatable group. Many people were not happy about international students coming back home. Their point is they are not helping when China is in danger but now when their current countries are not safe, they back to china and give more burden to china government.
As one of the members of International students, I can understand how difficult their situations are. The discrimination from some people, tickets back home are extremely expensive or even sold out, flights were canceled. Even after you come back home, the life is not easy as well. International students should pay the full bill of 14 days isolation hotel. In the hotel, there are 2 times of temperature checks per day, millions of calls from local health department and serval times of coronavirus tests. I felt myself can be a representation of international student group so I collected my personal data during these 14 days.
Similar to shoe people project methods, I took photos of my every day meal, I record medical staffs’ door bells and the process of temperature check which is the most scary things every day, I draw a data graph to record my emotion, received calls, virus tests and doll bells rings. The blue and orange line means my level of calm and nervous; the little black dots means the time I heard door bell and my temperature at that time, the little curve line is when I received phone call and the big dots is my virus test. Base on that graph, I visualize it into Wuhan’s symbolic building: “The Yellow Crane Tower”. Every day of mine in isolation hotel is a floor of the tower. I want to use this data tower to tell people my stories and all the international students’ stories in those isolation hotels.
For me, the most interesting and successful part of the shoe people project is the data collecting process. Instead of a direct interview, we came up with different activities to help us understand local in person. We followed and imitated local people. We put our camera on the road to record people’s shoes and pace. We measure people’s clothes’ length. We record decorations and accessories of people passing by. We collected hundreds of shoes and layered them to get the average local shoes. For a long time, I feel confused about this process as I thought it is just evidence to prove my point. However, in this project, we use these random and even sounds meaningless activities to get data that we can’t expect.