Some radical forms of mapping, representation and analysis are being developed through a cartography that renders visible the fast-growing amount of data and information that we are gathering today. These massive data sets challenge the traditional knowledge production and design paradigms.
Everything, from the clicks of our mousses, to traffic speed, to social network patterns, to consumer trends, is being watched, counted and stored as information to be analyzed and used to form and inform strategies.
Mapping as a design tool is not new in urban design or architecture. When the information can be spatio-temporally mapped it reveals relationships and logics that have also quantifiable and direct linkages to the urban and built environment at multiple scales. They go from the individual to their relation with the local and larger global systems.
This ever-growing amount of information is challenging and expanding the questions we ask, forcing us to re-consider design process, its tools, scope and implications.
To be used at some level as design tools, this information cannot just be made accessible through visual representations but it needs to be embedded with intelligence and the capacity for intervention that allows it to be generative. Going beyond a mere presentation of facts, it has to extract and work at the level of relationships, logics and patterns of organization. A multi-scalar organization diagram and architecture that privilege logics over form, and that span between the physical and material to immaterial forces and protocols. Architects in this way can bring extensive and intensive aspects together in material organizations and spatial arrangements that are able to index information and behaviors and work with them as genetic and generative material.
Many designers are in fact already exploring the potential of parametric and generative digital design tools to engage gathered information in this new iterative design processes. Processing modules and algorithms reference populated data sets in a recursive feedback system where analytical tools and design tools are integrated and influence each other. Sites and designs are defined in a way that allows for exploration of organizational or network architecture, focusing and understanding relationships, processes and activities.