Mental maps have recently featured quite a lot on the blog here. It is an interesting field, even though currently they are not very popular in planning and urban design. It seems almost as if they are seen as late sixties stuff and have some sort of hippie touch to them, which puts a lot of people of.
However, I believe they are very interesting in connection with the late seventies Hagertrand time-space aquarium. Both techniques have some points of critic to them. The space-time aquarium is very top down, from a distant observers point of view, disconnecting the subject completely from its surrounding through the rising of the path and denying any sort of procedural creation of the individual. The mental map on the other hand is not objective enough, too subjective and ‘inaccurate’, very difficult to summarize.
The aspect of time is in both approaches very static. Even the time-space diagram, from my view, is very much thought of in a linear way, time as an undefined never ending arrow. This leaves the focus on the space.
As a conclusion it would be interesting to have a time focused visualisation and with it we might get a different view on the spatial aspect.
A funny representation is the following summary of movie characters by XKCD. It solely focuses on the time aspect in relation to the narrative. In this respect it completely lacks the spatial aspect and the loops and hoops are to me not directly plausible, but nevertheless this is interesting.
Regarding the UrbanDiary project, it would be interesting to come up with a similar approach and visualise the relationship of spatial encounters in a similar linear fashion.
Image by XKCD - click on image for large version
Thanks to Matt from wiseristhepath for he link.
--An update to the blog post-----Thanks to Chris for pointing it out
Daniel McLaren has already implemented a dynamic version of the above visualisation. He worked in flash. Head over to his page to see it in action.
Image by Daniel McLaren - Screenshots