Walking around Wales

An Exhibition to Coincide with the Visit of Professor Alan Dix to the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives, June 2013

Professor Alan Dix on Offa’s Dyke, May 2013 

‌From mid-April to the end of July 2013, Professor Alan Dix of the Human-Computer Interaction Centre at the School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, circumnavigated Wales on foot, following Offa’s Dyke north, through the varied landscapes of the Anglo-Welsh borderlands, before turning west and then south along the Wales Coast Path (see Alan’s account of the journey at: Alan Walks Wales).
Professor Alan Dix on 
Offa’s Dyke, 
May 2013

‌The walk was both a personal journey and a technological and community one, exploring the needs of the walker and the people along the way. While walking this 1,000 plus mile route, Alan aimed to explore the IT needs of the walker, with particular focus on the use and limitations of mobile technologies in areas which often still have poor mobile signal provision and limited access to Wi-Fi and broadband; to work with local communities in order to understand how IT might address their needs; and to assess the fundamental challenges these needs raise for research. ‌

‌Alan described his personal reasons for undertaking this mammoth walk thus:

“I am Welsh, was born and brought up in Cardiff, but have not lived in Wales for over thirty years. The walk will be a form of homecoming, reconnecting with the land and its people that I have been away from for so long. The act of encircling can symbolically ‘encompass’ a thing, as if knowing the periphery one knows the whole. Of course life is not like this, the edge is just that, not the core, not the heart. As a long term ex-pat, a foreigner in my own land, maybe all I can hope to do is scratch the surface, nibble at the edges. However, also I always feel most comfortable as an outsider, as one at the margins, so in some ways I am going to the places where I most feel at home. I will blog, audio blog, tweet and generally share this experience to the extent the tenuous mobile signal allows, but also looking forward to periods of solitude between sea and mountain”. http://alandix.com/alanwalkswales/vision/

Alan could have hardly have chosen a more diverse and stimulating route; Catherine Sinclair in Hill and Valley, declared that:

“Few countries can compete with ancient Cambria for the number and magnificence of her ruined fortresses, and for the historical interest attached to each glen and mountain throughout her whole extent, where every inch of ground has been contested by heroes and warriors with whose nearly un-pronounceable names we have been familiar since childhood”.Sinclair, Catherine, 1839. Hill and valley: or Wales and the Welsh. Edinburgh: William Whyte and Co. (NSC 1893)

Software Alliance Wales (SAW) is a multi-million pound project led by Swansea University in partnership with the Universities of Bangor, Aberystwyth, the University of South Wales and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UoWTSD). SAW supports and promotes Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Welsh industry, and creates a platform for developers across the region to network and share best practice, and to promote Wales as a key driving force in Software Development. SAW offers fully subsidised workshops on two levels to Welsh SME businesses which offer an introduction to current and popular topics with a local expert in a jargon-free environment.  For more information please go to www.softwarealliancewales.com/events.

There are clear connections between the role of SAW and Alan’s aims in walking the path and Alan was invited to take a day out from walking and visit the Lampeter Campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David to discuss some of the issues specific to Wales that the two projects had identified through working/walking in the field.

The following exhibition was curated for Alan’s visit to the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives at UoWTSD; the selection of materials illustrate Alan’s long-distance route around Wales through maps and manuscripts, poems and memoirs, illustrations and anecdotes.

Alan’s reflections on the day are recorded on his blog http://alandix.com/alanwalkswales/2013/06/19/day-63-off-path-visit-to-lampeter/