Data Crafting: How We Can Play With Data At Home (Part 2)

Aspen Hopkins
8 min readJan 29, 2021

I started writing this in March. I came back to it in November, when the weather was changing, and there was a second wave of COVID hitting — making it the perfect time to come back to at-home cozy crafting activities. Now it’s January 2021! These activities are fantastic for teaching basics of data visualization and data physicalization. They can also help experts think of new facets of their data. More than anything, I hope this article can help people have fun at home~

Read the first data crafting article here!

Before I get into the meat of data crafting, I want to address the elephant in the room: COVID-19. The recent pandemic has effected how people work, how families interact, and has led all of us to stay at home whenever possible.

That means an often claustrophobic environment where parents are learning to homeschool and people in general are trying to stay sane. For a lot of Youtube (because I’m a regular tube trawler), this means leaning into crafting! Yes, celebrities and lay folk alike are turning to this hands-on method of play and so can you!

For parents, this is the perfect opportunity to teach data thinking to your children. For non-parents (like me), this is a great time to get down and dirty with the cathartic-by-proxy, learning-for-fun process of data crafting.

In the previous article, I went in-depth on why Natalie and I were inspired to do a workshop on Data Crafting, a method of interacting with data through craft and play. To be catchy about it: crafting was our game, data was our aim. If you haven’t read the first article, I highly encourage backtracking to it.

For the second part of this series, I will be exploring how we crafted with data.

Data crafting can apply to a wide variety of ages and levels of experience. This is incredibly powerful — such broad applications! — but relies on buy-in from all participants. And by participants, I actually mean adult participants. Children are very comfortable playing.

Adults. Are. So. Uncomfortable. We take ourselves so seriously. Our responsibilities (and perceived respectability) determines our value to society at large, sets a tone for how others see us, and shapes our beliefs of…

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Aspen Hopkins

Hi! I’m a PhD student at MIT. I’m interested in AI, HCI, data visualization, and how tech impacts human experiences. Find me @ AspenHopkins.com