From mid-April to July 2013 I walked the complete periphery of Wales, over a thousand miles: starting in Cardiff,, following Offa’s Dyke through the borderlands, then along the Wales Coast Path, and back to Cardiff on my birthday.
The walk was a personal journey, but also a technological and community one, exploring the needs of the walker and the people along the way. It was not the first circumlocution of Wales (see walkers section for others), but it was unique in its technical, social and theoretical aims.
Although the walk is now complete, the project continues. During 2014 I will have a number of (non-walking) trips to revisit people and places and also to see those that I missed. I am also continuing to work on writing and collating data. During the walk I collected for three charities: MHA, The Wallich and Tenovus, and the fund raising pages for these are still open.
This ongoing project addresses a dual practical and academic agenda:
- To explore through personal experience the IT needs of the walker with particular focus on the use and limitations of mobile technologies in areas where mobile phone coverage is at best patchy.
- To work with local communities in order to understand how IT might address their needs, and if not, what fundamental challenges this raises for research.
Both of these are continuing, I would love to hear from: (a) other walkers, if you have experiences you would like to share, or would like any advice or help; and (b) anyone in along the way who would like to explore how IT could help their communities. I would love to help then develop partial, prototype or fully functional solutions, in collaboration with research partners across Wales and the UK.
In addition, there were secondary aims:
- To act as a living lab for research groups to experiment in areas such as body sensors, ubiquitous computing, and mobile infrastructure. I carried a number of apps and devices, some more successful than others. I wore a number of bio-sensors and the data form these, together with GPS traces, audio,image and text are available in the data section.
- To offer talks, seminars and workshops at universities, schools and other venues, before, during and after the walk itself. Most of the talks have been in academic or university settings (as far afield as India and Germany as well as multiple places in Wales and the UK). However,I would love to also talk to communities, businesses or schools, both to share my own experiences and learn from yours.
Finally, walking has a rich philosophical, political and personal history, so, as well as the community and technical agenda, I also created a more reflective written and audio blog, as a precursor to a subsequent book.