I grew up near a little town in Alberta called Hay Lakes. I later moved to Edmonton for my BA, Toronto for my MA, and Vancouver for my PhD. I’ve moved around a lot since then, finally landing in Kitchener with my family over 5 years ago. I teach academic and technical communication, media studies, and cultural studies. I currently research critical cultural mapping, cultural scenes, and urban design. I also have a research background in Canadian popular culture, media, and humour. Outside of the university, I work in the areas of cultural policy, design thinking, and user experience design.
My current research is a critical analysis of cultural mapping from a user experience design perspective. In particular, I am taking up the cultural mapping work that has been done as part of the Waterloo Region’s labour force planning and economic development strategy. This case study illustrates well the constraints and shortcomings of mapping as a planning and information dissemination tool, the limitations of big data approaches to urban economic development, and the challenges of incorporating multiple-stakeholders into data curation and visualization projects. In short, this research seeks to reconcile the constraints of “big data” planning approaches with the complex, sometimes intangible, and often messy processes of building vibrant and liveable communities and cities.