HLA Fall Seminar: Bo Zhang – HLA Happenings

HLA Fall Seminar: Bo Zhang

Headshot of Dr. Bo Zhang

Dr. Bo Zhang, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Oklahoma State University

“Big Data with Smart Minds: Gauging the Impacts of Landscape in Information Age”

Thursday September 15th, at 3:30pm, HORT 117 or join via Zoom

Dr. Bo Zhang, an associate professor of Landscape Architecture at Oklahoma State University, has a keen interest in promoting public space usage and related design methodology though valid and vigorous scholarly research. He has received more than ten awards for his research on big data related environment design projects, including the 2019 ASLA national research award and the 2020 EDRA excellence research award. He is a frequent speaker at ASLA, EDRA, CELA, and LaBash conferences.

Abstract: How can public open space be scrutinized for its profound impact on contemporary social life? How can new forms of communication and publishing in the digital age bring considerable intellectual weight to the topics of today? How can public open space planners and designers be supportively informed instead of desperately overwhelmed by today’s massive amounts of information? And how can landscape architects penetrate the surface of landscape materials to reconstruct symbolism and to exert social impacts on the society?

This speaker answers these questions by relating social media, an unprecedented invention in the digital age to landscape architecture, as a resource, a method, and a take-off board. Social media, voluntarily and openly posted by public space users, lends landscape professionals a huge set of efficient, and ever-growing data to better understand outdoor publicity. Compared to conventional methods, such as survey and on-site observations, social media data not only contains a large number of records and participants, but also suggests a financially economic and less time-consuming method to view the usage and perception about public landscapes. To be seriously informed, landscape professionals may need to switch their roles related to social media, from pure users to readers, interpreters, and critics.

Having developed a series of social media textural and imagery analytic methods, this speaker rewrites immediate histories of public landscapes with advanced richness and complexity. Unveiled here are diverse usage patterns of several well-known open spaces, such as the Seattle Freeway Park, Fort Worth Water Gardens, and Bryant Park in New York City. The unprecedented clarity, depth, and comprehension may allow our future thinkers to tackle issues, problems, and failures. Social media data needs to be read and interpreted with critical minds, using both statistical analysis and phenomenal interpretation.

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