The ‘more-than-digital’ scrapmap: exploring the generative possibilities of digital data (from nature entanglement via digital abstraction to material artefact)

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Forest school is a practice “which enables children to visit natural sites and engage with nature on a regular basis within the school timetable” (1), and as such is a rich and complex site for qualitative enquiry. Post-human scholars (2,3) have, by repositioning/decentering the human subject, refocused what qualitative researchers ‘do’ with data away from anthropocentric/representationalist methods of enquiry. This onto-epistemological standpoint demands our engagement with critical issues relating to data generation and data analysis. Ellingson and Sotirin (4) summarise contemporary distrust of data, sympathising with, but ultimately rejecting notions that negate the concept (or usefulness) of data entirely. Instead, they propose the concept of data engagement. In this model data are made (not found), assembled (not collected), dynamic (not complete/static). Drawing on this notion, the present study playfully materializes the idea that data transforms itself into a myriad of potentiality from the moment we engage with it. The process was an affirmative one, generating new ways to view the forest school experience via my own embodiment in the process. The initial data generation drew upon Ingold’s (5) distinction between travelling and wayfaring. Wayfaring as a concept can be applied to my activities as a researcher enmeshed in the forest school space as I followed the children’s activity. Over seven separate visits to the forest school site I tracked my wayfaring around the site using GPS technology. Abstracting the raw data from my GPS watch, the digital lines of travel (representing my muddy, entangled, visceral traipsing through the undergrowth) generated only a clean, linear/synchronic topography of the event. I exported the maps, printed, traced, and embroidered each individual wayfaring route onto a piece of found fabric that now hosted the newly transformed data. Each route was layered on top of another on the scrap fabric like a digital ‘sampler’. Thus I created the more-than-digital scrapmap. The scrapmap presents the transmutation of qualitative researcher engagement with a site from forest path to tactile data, via digital .gpx file, pen, tracing paper and found fabric; becoming an embroidered (re)assemblage. This more-than-digital map shows one way in which human-material entanglements may become material-human artefacts. The scrapmap shows both the lines and negative space temporally and spatially occupied during the research activity. The map communicates new insights about researcher embodiment and the possibilities afforded by playful data engagement.

Keywords: digital, posthuman, material, forest school, generative.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication6th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry Qualitative Inquiry in the Anthropocene: Affirmative and generative possibilities for (Post)Anthropocentric futures
Subtitle of host publicationCongress Proceedings Book 2023
EditorsNikki Fairchild
Place of PublicationPortsmouth
PublisherUniversity of Portsmouth
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781861376770
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2023
Event6th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry: Qualitative Inquiry in the Anthropocene: Affirmative and generative possibilities for (Post)Anthropocentric futures - University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Jan 202313 Jan 2023


Conference6th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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