596 Acres

A team of law and information design professionals aim to help citizens transform vacant public land in the city of New York into community resources. 596 Acres began their approach by analysing open data on vacant land provided by the city, after which they developed online tools that transformed city data into ‘readable’ information for citizens, for instance in the form of maps or posters.

Link to the project

The professionals give the data meaning by representing it in a certain way; they choose to favour things or leave others things out, in order to convince. It is the same way maps are traditionally made and used by hegemonies (such as governments) only in this project less dominant actors are addressed. Is, however, the way in which the map is constructed not to be problematised? Isn’t empowerment the stage where others are allowed to participate in the co-authoring of the story; that is, the stage where the data is collected and visualised?