I spent evenings hunting Google Maps for walks—new walks, green-lined, meandering walks. Work continued to bring me to new cities, and with each unexplored urban space I felt my chest tighten with excitement; fresh ground to explore, more steps to be had. Walking is different than biking or driving down a street.
Heads stuck in smartphones, we miss the humanity of the scenes we pass. Yet using that same technology we can call up with atomic granularity the time and place of a meeting with a dear friend years back. Sometimes those two spaces collide—technology creating an almost psychic, projected awareness of the here and now.
And the data we create using such devices are boundless:
There was a time when a man died and all that remained were boxes and file cabinets. Tax returns, receipts for record players, letters from children long grown, yearbooks, worn shoes. There was the smell, the touch of cloth. The understanding, perhaps, of how that person lived. However thin that understanding may have been, it was there, embedded in their data, their stuff. A physical remainder, massed together to sketch the edges of a life. I can’t help but see an element of self-preservation amid our data collection. Preservation embedded deep within our check-ins, our food photos, our tracked steps and mapped run routes.