This course seeks to engage graduate students (and advanced undergraduates) from across Georgia Tech in exploring what Atlanta looks like through civic data. Today, data on the city are increasingly available. Micro and macro changes in the makeup of local neighborhoods can be tracked through demolition/construction permits, tax records, and community surveys, among other sources; all of which might be easily downloaded by anyone with an internet connection. But data can be available, without necessarily being accessible or actionable. In this course, students will examine how data can be made interpretable by creating their own community-based, data-driven, mapping projects designed to open dialogue about ongoing changes in the life of the city.
In order to create these maps, students will make use of the evolving infrastructure of the Atlanta Map Room, visible from the window of TSRB 209. (An explanatory video is available here: https://youtu.be/9EkI9Oav49c). The Atlanta Map Room is a space for creating interpretive maps of the city, from a combination of contemporary data, historical documents, and personal experiences. These maps are large-scale physical artifacts (up to 16 feet long!), collaboratively-made, and meant for exhibition. The Atlanta Map Room builds upon the recent success of the St. Louis Map Room (http://www.cocastl.org/stlmaproom), a project lead by course collaborator and digital artist Jer Thorp in conjunction with the Center of Creative Arts. Students in the course will contribute to the development of a unique map room for Atlanta, meant to explore invisible tensions in the city, between its rapid development as a commercial hub and its long history as a center for civil rights and culture in the Southeast.
LMC 6650 will combine aspects of a seminar and a studio. Early in the term, students will read about and discuss theories and practices from data studies and data visualization. Thereafter, they will develop their own extensions to the existing Atlanta Map Room (i.e. new data layers, automated drawing instruments, or augmented realities) in order to create a forum for collective reflection on the city of Atlanta. The course is meant to equip students with the skills and resources necessary to think critically about cities through their data.
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