Access to social data on human experience of place has never been more available than now. Social media, smart phones, and the Internet of Things provide glimpses into individual activity across the globe. The nearly-boundless stream of information is called “big data.” Today, physically and even socially disconnected individuals can benefit from the similar experiences of others to adapt and change their environment. I argue that big data provides two critical benefits for landscape architecture research and practice: (1) big data opens a window into previously inaccessible human experiences of designed environments, introducing new metrics for evidence-based design and new ways of improving design literacy; and (2) the design, planning, and management of the land—especially in cities—can benefit from scraping big data to support urban ecological design. My study of YouTube use in New Orleans shows that big data can advance landscape research to support positive, interdependent relationships between people and built environments. Landscape architecture would benefit by harnessing this resource to better understand relationships with place and encourage individuals to participate in the design, creation, and evolution of cities.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/benjamin_shirtcliff/8/