Monday, 28 June 2010

New City Landscapes - Interactive Tweetography Maps

Over the past few months we have been harvesting geospatial data from Twitter with the aim of creating a series of new city maps based on Twitter data. Via a radius of 30km around New York, London, Paris, Munich we have collated the number of Tweets and created our New City Landscape Maps.

New York New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / New York New City Landscape -Use the Google Maps style zoom function in the top right corner to zoom into the map and explore it in detail. Explore areas you know close up and find new locations you have never heard of. Click HERE for a full screen view.

The highest New York point is the Time Square Peak. It sits within a ridge running down the lengt of Manhattan. It drops of in the south shortly after Chinatown Head and Little Italy Side. A second group of mountains are location around the Franklin Avenue Rock and a third in the Jamaica area.

The maps were created using our Tweet-O-Meter, in association with DigitalUrban and coded by Steven Gray, this New City Landscape represents location based twitter activity.

Image by DigitalUrban / Screenshot of the Tweet-O-Meter
Image by DigitalUrban / Screenshot of the Tweet-O-Meter showing New York, London, Paris and Munich.

The data is derived from tweets sent via a mobile device that includes the location at the time of sending the message. The contours correspond to the density of tweets, the mountains rise over active locations and cliffs drop down in to calm valleys, flowing out to tweet deserts. Throughout the emerging landscape features have been renamed to reflect these conditions. Embedded below a zoomable version of London, created using CASA GM Image Cutter software software developed by Richard Milton, you can zoom in and pan around just as you would do on Google Maps.

London New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / London New City Landscape - Use the Google Maps style zoom function in the top right corner to zoom into the map and explore it in detail. Explore areas you know close up and find new locations you have never heard of. Click HERE for a full screen view.

In this visualisation London does not show the normally characteristic East-West differentiation. Here it is a more North-South directed structure. The highest peak is Soho Mountain in the centre of London extending Eastward towards Liverpool Street.

Munich New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Munich New City Landscape -Use the Google Maps style zoom function in the top right corner to zoom into the map and explore it in detail. Explore areas you know close up and find new locations you have never heard of. Click HERE for a full screen view.

Paris New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Paris New City Landscape -Use the Google Maps style zoom function in the top right corner to zoom into the map and explore it in detail. Explore areas you know close up and find new locations you have never heard of. Click HERE for a full screen view. This map was created with the support of Annick Labeca.

‘New York, London, Paris, Munich everybody talk about Pop Musik’ – that was 1979 and the catch line by the group M. This was the start of the project, to mine what people are talking about in 2010. This has led to the creation of our New City Landscape maps.

Images of the maps can also be found on flickr. More cities are coming soon….

Small StreetLife

A new streetlife clip by Christoph Schaarschmidt. A nice collection of rooftop perspectives.
Music: billionaire versus bear "Oh my, what are they doing?" He has put it forwards as his entry for the "Digital Reportage Award 2010". The topic was to produce a short video showing "Streetlife". You can vote for this entry on the competition site.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Book - City Building

It seems to be time again for book on how to build a city. This is as an answer or better a following step to all the publication investigating the city the logical step. Necessarily with such a project one has to define a position in many ways, conceptually, socially, technically, culturally or other wise and is in the following relatively bound. This should of course not be seen in a negative way, but rather as a potential. The in depth and thoughtful aspects are usually developed in such a context. That it will also allow for a lot of critique to be raised should similarly be seen as the start of a healthy debate. Earlier I have discussed the publications "A Manifesto for Sustainable Cities' by Albert Speer and Partners, Prestel and 'Asia Beyond Growth' edited by AEOM, Thames and Hudson.
Princeton Architectural Press has just no published a new book that fals into this category, 'City Building - Nine Planning Principles for the Twenty-First Century' by John Lund Kriken with Philip Enquist and Richard Rapaport. Interestingly what these publications have in common, they all come out of large planning companies. Each with a different approach and strategy, both, regarding the content but also the marketing / positioning. The latest one is very close to SOM, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, currently building the Burj Khalifa.
The book presents a structure of nine topics as principles of planning. This is meant as a framework for organisation and decision making. None of the selected headings will surprise you though, the topics have been floating around the professional debate for years now, but they make sense as a collection. A set to cover more or less all aspects of the design process one would come across in practice.

Image by SOM, taken from / Treasure Island: Sold To The Bidder Across The Bay For $105M (Plus), SOM to develop masterplan.

The approach to the different topics is very American, if this 'style' existis, otherwise let's call it commercial. SOM is an international practice, but particularly here this american school approach shines through, from how elements are explained and definitely in the sketches. For someone from Europe, some of the topics are some years behind. Trying to make things simpler than they are, is usually not a helpful approach. But beside these style preferences the presented structure of topics and the examples used to illustrate key points are clear and straight forward to understand. The real value is in the detail of the presented examples. Here the authors draw obviously from the large pool of SOM projects to provide in depth understanding of the topics. Maps and plans are at large represented at same scales which makes comparisons possible. Detailing goes as far as discussing aspects of climate and wind direction in their relevance to urban design. This is a element unseen in peer publications. However, at times the topics still remain on the surface and don't manage to impress. Maybe because the authors have chosen to go with widely discussed keywords.
The nine chosen topics are as follows: Sustainability, Accessibility, Diversity, Open Space, Compatibility, Incentives, Adaptability, Density, Identity.
"The city, in fact is a font of saving solutions for humankind because the way that urban settlement takes place links virtually all other environmental and social concerns. How humans come together in cities is nothing less than a key to the long-term stewardship of the land, air, water, and energy use, as well as to habitat preservation, health, security, and positive social interaction." (City Building, Part III, p.239) This, I would say, is a statement of someone who truly believes in the city as a model. Someone who lives and breathes the city, someone who loves the city. On the other hand these statements also demonstrate how the perspective shapes the story. In some way some of the contextual comments in this publication have mad me once more aware of the complications we face to conclude and frame a definite thought in the context of our own practice. And furthermore, the essential necessity to remain critical and reflective especially regarding the context and the product.

Image by SOM / SOM’s Master Plan proposes a variety of innovative solutions to facilitate the regeneration of this prime London location. Key amongst these is: the integration of future development with the rail, tram and bus interchange; strengthening the mixed-use core through increased density; amalgamation of green spaces; maximising pedestrian permeability. The scheme establishes a unique sense of place, and ensures social and economic benefits for the community.

This publication represents the perspective of the practitioner and manages to speak the appropriate language. The introduction and the conclusion provide a formal framework, but you really will be interested in the middle bit, with its numerous examples drawn from all over the world and presented in the context providing framework of nine topics, or, as called here, principles. The richness of detail and the relevants make this a very useful source for everyday situations in practice.

Preview on Google Books will also give you a first impression.

Kriken, J.L., 2010. City Building: Nine Planning Principles for the Twenty-First Century, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Territoriality - Mapping Individual City Perspectives

How do we identify our selves with the spaces we use and how do we navigate with the many obstacles the urban environment contains?
Living in the city means to constantly negotiate spaces as well as navigate space. This becomes more difficult under the density aspect as well as the mobility aspects. Also the cycles of change are very short and frequent adaptations require constant reorientation.
Aspects of repetition and routine play an important role in the navigation of everyday situations. Being familiar with the aspects makes this task a lot easier. However, as soon as there are changes, new features or temporary obstacles, those have to be integrated.
Even more difficult such tasks are for people with disabilities. Here people also have to deal with obstacles built into the urban landscape, simply because someone ignored additional needs.
Megafon is a project to investigate and map these obstacles using collaborative and user generated methods.

Image by / Geneva obstacle map 2008. Based on Google Maps with clickable content. Click on image for the interactive map.

They work with focus groups and equip their participants with a camera and GPS to document their experiences in everyday situations. The images were uploaded directly to the internet feeding in to a realtime map of the city. Two of these cities are Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland. The resulting maps a very detailed and visualise a very specific perspective on the city.

Image by / Screenshot of the live tube map
Image by / Barcelona obstacle map 2006.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

New City Landscapes - Paris on Time

The New City Landscapes have been introduced earlier as a visualisation of tweet activity in the urban context. The maps are derived from data sent via a mobile client and including location information.
The rising mountains and dropping valleys remodel the density of messages as a temporary urban landscape. Earlier coverage on this topic can be found HERE and HERE.
A more detailed series we start now looking at the different places New York, London, Munich and Paris individually. This time the focus is on Paris, Ille de France. In timeRose diagrams the temporary aspect of the data is developed with a visual means line to indicate characteristics of individual units. This method allows graphical analysis, highlighting the important aspects.

Image by urbanTick / New City Landscape of Paris, France. A topography map generated from twitter activity around the Ille of France.

The 'Dents des Halles' mark the highest point on the map, being a location of high tweeting activity. It is quite an important meeting point for people of all ages. It is a place to hang out, to stand around with no specific activity at hand. This seems to be an important condition for high twitter activity. Counter the assumption important places wil stand out, usually the less expected places close by will have the peak. Take the 'Tour Eiffel' for example it made it only as the 'Flanc Tour Eiffel' at the bottom of the 'Colline d'Champ-Elysees'. The mix is more complicated and I am guessing that everyday location combined with routine activities actually float on the top, over one of activities. However to make the peak it obviously needs a combination.
From the Tour Eiffel up to the 'Cime Excelmans' down the 'Flac des Princes' across the 'Carriere Marnes-la-Coquette', one reaches the 'Aiguille du Chesnay', The peak next to Versailles. This another example of lower activity than expected.
A group of three peaks to the north-east marks the airport Charles de Gaulle a dent that would follow the logic.

Image by urbanTick / TimeRose analysis of the tweeting activity in Paris, France over the period of one week. The means line helps to classify the information.

Looking at the activity over time of the individual weekdays the pattern between weekends and weekdays is quit obvious. The visualisation here is a timeRose where the 24 hours are plotted around the circle, with the amount of tweeting plotted radial.
The means line is used to mark the highest activity peaks, with the angle of it indicating the fraction of the day covered. A steep line means late morning and late night, representing the tendency on weekends. Whereas a flat line points to early morning and early evening activity, as it draws on weekdays.
There is a problem with the data from Wednesday, this is due to the fact that witter was down and we do not have data for this period. However the drop off's on both sides suggest a similar pattern as we find on the other weekdays.
The usual pattern is a three peak blob, representing morning, lunch and evening. With flater means the morning merges in to the lunch peak and a shift towards later times takes place. This shift starts to build up already during the week starting from Thursday.

Image by urbanTick / The island of twitter land Paris in the digital see of information. Generated from tweet density send form mobile devices in Paris, France.

The Other cities wil follow as blog posts very soon, stay tuned.
Thanks forsupport with the development of this to Annick Labeca at Urban Lab Global Cities

Monday, 21 June 2010

Live Visualz of London Tube Train Locations - Approximately

A Google Maps mash-up has gone online that visualises the approximate location of every single tube train on the London Tube network. This has become possible since TfL's move to install an open API allowing access to their vast pool of data. Through this the map calculates real time location of trains by accessing the data from departure information board. This is the same information passengers see on the platform. The very familiar 7 minutes, 3 minutes, 1 minute, due, writing in orange dot letters.
The API is currently still in beta and provided through the LondonDataStore.
This comes only a few days after the publishing of the API and it was developed by Matthew Somerville via mySociety. The source code for the mash-up is also available. It was developed in the context of the science hack day that took place over the past weekend.
This is great to look at, but like the information on the tube platform, we know from experience that the time displayed usually is just an approximation.
In an earlier post the beat of the london tube network was covered in a different visualisation type, using timeLapse.

Image by / Screenshot of the live tube map
Image by / Screenshot of the live tube map

Thanks for the link to Duncan.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Visualising Action on the Football Pitch

The Football World Cup virus has of course spread to all the mobile platforms, foremost the iPhone and iPad. Numerous apps promis the most up to date info and the most detailed analysis. In an earlier post I was interested in tracking of activity on the football pitch and came across these different methods of analysis. The big sports broadcaster are using a palett of software helping them with analysis as well as visualisation. The visualisation part has become important during these very formal and serious debates around the table. Usually the graphics put in to the video are based on tracking information derived from different cameras. There aren't currently physical tracking technologies in place, as for example RFID, GPS or Bluetooth. The producers must be very satisfied with the visual tracking tools. Tools are Piero, Visual Sports. A nice visualisation of pitch activity also is supplied by the New York Times including time slider allowing you to scroll through the 90 minutes dynamically.

Image by urbanTick / Screen shot taken from Total Football 2010 iPhone app, analysis of the game Switzerland 1-0 Spain, all passes.

If you are keen to get up to date information on matches and analysis where ever you go and where ever you are, you need a app fot the iPhone or your new iPad. A really cool on eis the Total Football 2010 developed by Colm McMullan. It provides you with all the details and infos you want to know. I was particularly interested in the visualisation of spatial activity on the pitch. How do players stand and where is the action taking place. Here you can get detailed info down to which player took a throw in where, when, in which direction and how far - Amazing! With the dynamic slider all the information can be specifically focused on a specific period of the game or over the whole 90 min period.

Image by urbanTick / Screen shot taken from Total Football 2010 iPhone app, analysis of the game Switzerland 1-0 Spain, all passes in the attack third.

In te context of the game Switzerland Spain, the analysis of the spatial pattern are telling a lot about the narrative of the game. If you look at the spatial distribution of the passes by Spain that covers two third of the pitch towards the opposition goal witha strong focus around the Swiss box. The Swiss passes on the other hand got stuck in the center of the field with a high percentage of red, meaning failed passes.
The Swiss goal that decided the match was a real surprise just a few minutes into the second half. It was one of the long balls in to the Spanish half surprising the Spanish defence and muddling the ball in to to the net.
The strategy of the Swiss team to focus on closing the box with every player and simply not letting the Spanish side get to have a got at the net worked out and left this clear spatial pattern of a maximum of activity just outside the Swiss box.

Image by urbanTick / Screen shot taken from Total Football 2010 iPhone app, analysis of the game Switzerland 1-0 Spain, all shots.

The data feed comes through a service from Opta Sports. They are using a specifically developed software to analyse the games. However surprisingly it is all done manually. Two people are watching a football game. Each one focuses on one team and records every single move. The actions are coded and the operator also registers with the mouse the location and direction on the pitch via visual input. Basically this way they record the ball movement. It could be summarised as a linear recording of the balls movement over 90 minutes.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

MyTime Interview - Hans Gubler Timekeeper for the Olympic Games 2012 in London

The Olympic Games are a global event of sport, writing history and making heroes by defining the athlete who performs best. In 2012 the games are being held in London and preparations are well under way. There is a lot of emphasis on the facilities and what can be seen at the moment is mainly building work on infrastructure and buildings. The building site over in Standford doesn't really look yet like a beautiful venue as we are shown on the renderings, but some of the buildings develop a recognizable shape.

Image taken from / The Olympic Park taking shape on 2010-04-01. An aerial view of the Olympic Park looking north-west, with the Aquatics Centre in the foreground. The Olympic Stadium with the completed lighting towers is in the background.

In fact the Games actually return to London, after they were held here in 1948. Behind the scenes there is a lot of other preparation work going on. Part of this is the heart of the Games, the time keeping. Implementing this complicated system of measuring, processing and reporting accurate times is a big thing and has a lot of ties to other elements of the event. At this stage this involves Architecture, e.g. buildings as well as infrastructure, later on technical settings as well as communications. This means that Olympic time keeping is always part of the preparations from very early on. Omega as part of the Swatch group is once more responsible for keeping accurate times across the whole of the Olympic Games in 2012. The company has a very long tradition in sports event time keeping and were the first company to be appointed for the job by the IOC at the Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games in 1932. They had also done the earlier London Games in 1948 and in this sense the coming event marks 80 years since their first job and will be their 25th instance to keep official Olympic times.

Hans Gubler, who is heading the implementation team of Swiss Timing, the company responsible for the running and installation of the time keeping system, speaks to urbanTick about the job of keeping accurate times and implementing the icon of timekeeping. Of course of interest will be the development of the technology since the implementation of the photo finish camera ' at the 1948 London Games, but also we want to discuss implications of time and working with time in a broader sense.


urbanTick: Is it important to be on time?
Hans Gubler: Yes and No. It depends largely in what context the "being on time" is. In my job being on time is very important.

urbanTick: Omega was the first time keeping company to take the official times at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1932. They have done the job ever since. Can you explain briefly the historic key elements?
Hans Gubler: In the 1930s timing was still done manually, meaning using stop watches. An early version photo finish camera already existed but was not approved by the sports federation in those days. Horse racing was the first sport where a photo finish device was put in place. With the arrival of the transistor in the 1940s things changed rapidly. Our company started to develop timing devices of which the key element was a high precision quartz. Electric photocells were used to start and stop timing at great precision. At the same time the photo finish technology was further developed and eventually homologated for Athletics and used for the first time at the London 1948 Summer Olympics. In the meantime conventional photo finish film technology has been taken over by computer technology. New technologies also include the introduction of transponders.

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 - Swimming, Finished.

urbanTick: You are working for one of the biggest temporal events globally, can you describe your current workplace?
Hans Gubler: I work with a team of 12 people (employed by my company) working at the Games organising committee's premises. Our activities comprise of planning our needs in the Olympic venues (cabling, space and power requirements, infrastructure for sports scoreboards) and testing results system software with all dependencies (Television, Integration with other systems).
Swiss Timing is a Timing, Scoring and Results services company within Swatch Group alongside with Omega, Longines, Swatch, Rado, Tissot and other watch brands. Watch brands such as Omega, Longines and Tissot use Swiss Timing's services for marketing/branding at sports events. Events range from the Olympics and Paralympics to World Championships, World Cups and many more events.

urbanTick: The Olympic Games have a cycle of four years, what are the 'cycles' for your company, how much time do you need for the setup?
Hans Gubler: The setup takes about 3.5 years. Whereof we are 2.5 - 3 years on site prior to the Games. The operational teams would show up on the venues for the test events and finally, for the Games.

urbanTick: How many Olympic sites have you already worked on and where was it?
Hans Gubler: My first Olympic games were the Winter Games in Sarajevo 1984, then Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Torino 2006 and Beijing 2008. In Sydney I started to be on site long term (three years), whereas before my involvement was only just for the Games periods.

urbanTick: Looking back, how have you come to this position and what is your background?
Hans Gubler: I come from an electrical engineering background and have worked in this industry for the last twenty years. At the time I looked for a job in a technical environment connected to sports.

urbanTick: What are the differences between personal and work related time aspects?
Hans Gubler: Personal time management can often be adjusted according to how one feels. Not all time lines have to meet a certain deadline. Professionally there are two levels. The first is to meet the time lines of deliveries (submission of documents, building/installing of equipment, testing of software) to synchronise with other parties' deliveries. The second is to be on time for a sports match or race and be precise in timing sports events (i.e. 100m dash race).

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 - Cycling Track, Start system.

urbanTick: In a rather global sense, how would you define time?
Hans Gubler: Time can be either described as space (amount of time) into which a quantity of work/activity is placed or the moment things are happening (from now to the end of race).

urbanTick: Are you using a specific definition of time you are using for your work?
Hans Gubler: Both of the above definitions. 1. Planning phase and 2. The actual event, measuring time of a sports performance.

urbanTick: How accurate can time measuring be?
Hans Gubler: Time accuracy can be indefinite however technical constraints and sports rules and regulations keep accuracy at bay. The highest resolution required in sports for the time being is 1/1000th of a second (i.e. Swimming), whereas Marathon over 42km only requires a resolution of 1 second.

urbanTick: Speaking of these completely different sports that the Olympics cover, how do they differ in terms of time keeping? Witch one is technically the most complicated to measure, witch one is the most beautiful?
Hans Gubler: Typically there are two categories namely timed sports and scored sports. Every sport has its own rules however some sports are very similar. Handball, Basketball, Football, Water polo for instance are scored sports where the match time is timed but the scores are relevant for the outcome. Swimming, Cycling and Athletics require precision timing for the ranking of the athletes. One of the most complicated sports is Modern Pentathlon where five disciplines are played in one day (Fencing, Swimming, Riding, Shooting and Running). It requires a lot of timing and scoring equipment and is intricate when it comes to networking all five sports for results compilation and live TV coverage.
Every sport has its beauty one way or another. My personal favourites to watch are Athletics and Tennis.

urbanTick: Do different conditions for time measuring exists. Say like weather conditions influence the performance? Does the wind direction influence the time?
Hans Gubler: Weather as such does not really influence time keeping (as long as the equipment is kept dry to function), however wind is a factor taken into account in Athletics where the sports rules stipulate a record time only to be recognised with wind from the back of < 2m/second. This rule applies to track races of up to 200m and long/triple jump. urbanTick: What are the different methods you are using to work with time?
Hans Gubler: Time is measured by using visual means (photo finish camera technology), infrared beams, wireless transponders, GPS technology

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 - Mountain Bike, Transponder.

urbanTick: Photo finishing and infrared are stationary technologies, GPS and wireless transponders can be mobile, are you tracking all the athletes and how accurate can this be?
Hans Gubler: GPS and wireless tanponders are mainly used for pisitionning of athletes during the race (intermediate times). The accuracy is no more than 1/10 of a second and is not recognised as the offical finish time.

urbanTick: Back in the Days of the 1932 Los Angeles Games hand-operated chronographs were used for timekeeping. What does it mean to work with time today, can you describe the context and support systems required?
Hans Gubler: The heart of time measurement is the high precision quartz used in custom made timing computers. Leading from there (depending on what sport and what precision is required), infrared beams, high resolution photo finish cameras, transponder systems or GPS systems are put in place.

urbanTick: Are you using the latest technology or even inventing them especially for the games or is the reliability of the system more important and you only implement well tested and proofed systems? What is the innovation you bring to the London 2012 Games?
Hans Gubler: New technology is developed not just for the Olympic Games but also for other high profile events such as World Championships and World Cups. Whether it would be for the Olympics or other events, new technology is tested thoroughly over periods of time in shadow (running alongside with existing and approved systems) before they are approved and used for events. Wireless systems are, in fact, not used in mission critical areas (i.e. data entries at Tennis, false start systems at Athletics etc.) since the risk of being interfered by other RF users is very high, especially in the Olympic Games.
New technology in London, as an example, is the timing of the mark roundings at Sailing using GPS.

urbanTick: Is there a backup system if the timing fails?
Hans Gubler: All crucial systems are equipped with back-up systems. The back-up system consists of a secondary system doing exactly the same as the primary system. A further contingency is the power supply back-up in form of an UPS (un-interrupted power supply).

urbanTick: Has there ever been an incident of hectic moments with failing systems at any of the Olympics you have worked for?
Hans Gubler: In Seoul 1988 the cartridge of the starting gun failed to go off properly in an Athletics race. The timing system was then immediately switched to the back up system. The race finished without a flaw.

Note - This is not the race mentioned above, just one of the races from Seoul in which Ben Johnson pitched a new world record over 100m.

urbanTick: The event relays on the time-measuring to determine the winners and this is turn is connected to a lot of investment and money in various areas. This presumably put a lot of pressure on the system and your job. Can you sleep at night?
Hans Gubler: The pressure is very high before and during the Games for both the operational and managing staff. The key element to meet and reduce risks is anticipation and proper preparation (thorough testing of software, hardware and procedures (exercising the switching to contingency systems)).

urbanTick: You are also responsible for the result tables and ranking system, how much time lies in between the event, the end of the event, and displaying it to the spectators on site and on TV? Is this immediate and solely determined by the technology or do you have to consult photos first and a judge takes a decision?
Hans Gubler: In the case of Athletics and Cycling the winner's time is displayed immediately (sub-second) on scoreboards and TV. The official time for the winner and all other athletes is read from the photo finish pictures and transferred into the results system as they are read. This process is a matter of a few seconds, unless there is a tie where careful analysis of the picture is required. In Swimming the times are officially recorded by the touch pads at the end of the pool.

urbanTick: Do you think different times exists, take place or could be constructed?
Hans Gubler: I think time could take place at a different level perhaps combined with space. There could also be different time levels that are still unknown to us.

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 - Athletics, Timing Room.

urbanTick: Would you say that there is something like a time legacy? In some sense one could argue that the times measured for the Olympics live on in the record books for generations of athletes to try and compete. What is the importance of the times in the context of the Olympics but also in general?
Hans Gubler: The legacy of times/records can be regarded as milestones for other athletes to live up to. They serve as comparison data to the media (press and TV/radio commentators). Times and records from the past also reflect the development of sports and increase in performance. A famous, if not the most famous, record was probably Bob Beamon's 8.90m in long jump during the Mexico 1968 Olympics. The record was only broken by Mike Powell with the distance of 8.95m in 1991.

urbanTick: You have lived in a lot of different countries, following the Olympic circus. Can you describe differences in time perception, usage or keeping from your experience?
Hans Gubler: There is definitely a difference of time perception depending on peoples' culture and mentality. A big difference I experienced between the Mediterranean (Athens) way of thinking (rather casual approach to managing time) versus the Chinese (Beijing) way of time approach (nothing is left unplanned, no surprises). The difficulty for us came with the former approach leaving little space for errors (planning, testing). Interestingly the former approach also meant more flexibility whereas the latter was much more rigid.


In an interview series urbanTick is looking closely at meaning and implications of time in everyday life situations. In the form of dialogs different aspects are explored, with the idea to highlight characteristics. The main interest is circling around the construction and implementation of different concepts of time between independent but related areas of activity, such as leisure and work, private and public, reality and virtual. This interview series will not be continuous, but more adhoc, so you might want to use the interview tag to catch up with the rest.

Image by Hans Gubler / Olympic Summer Games Beijing 2008 - Athletics, Finish camera.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Tracking on the Pitch - Strategies

World cup is on and I even find my self occasionally following a game with some pretended interest. What I am more interested really is the movement and the strategies. There is not much space and most of the points of orientation are moving elements. However rough positions are allocated together with assigned tasks.
There is a lot of important talking about options and chances, tactics and plans. It sounds all very sophisticated and important. But what is it in the end, 23 guys chasing the ball.
This however is random enough to generate some distinct pattern. of course random in this context means the characteristic mixture of task oriented inventive behaviour as we also observe it in everyday movement. In a very interesting blogpost Rob from Mammoth has summarised his thoughts on the similarities between football and urban movement tactics - as diagram traced on exported landscape.

Image by urbanTick /Adidas' Match Tracker, the heath map view - game Chelsea vs International.

Analysis of the game in real time is this year available from multiple sources. Addis offers the 'match tracker' or you can check out The adidas tool offers a graphic replay feature that based on a movement record. It has a quite elaborated interface with an interactive time tracker below.
A very different approach took the artist David Marsh with his work 'Some People are on the Pitch'. He traced with pen and paper the movement of the players in the 1966 victory, the last time England won the World Cup. He also offers the selection of some particular traces, though. For example one plate is the movement of Martin Peters in the first half of the game, another is Charlton vs Beckenbauer over the full length of the match.
It is 'Created by mapping archive footage at 1/2 real speed, using the pitch markings and the stripes of the cut grass as a coordinate system, the work follows the movement of each player against time, on and off the ball, as they move across the 'field' of play throughout the full 90 minutes, plus extra time.
The recorded information is then coded through a system of line type, weight and colour to allow the narrative of the recorded information to be represented and read graphically, producing a work simultaneously latent with an immense level of information, and one seemingly abstract in its aesthetic.'

some people are on the pitch by David Marsh

Image by David Marsh / 'Alan Ball - Full Mach' Working drawing, Ink on trace.

Details via Mammoth and Infostetics. Other football drawings can be found via SwissMiss.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Ephemicropolis - A city scape all stapled

THe city scape of Ephemicropolis was an installation y the artist Peter Root made from around 100'000 staples. The installation shown here took about 40 hours to set up, see 'the making of' below. Root graduated from the Fine Art BA Hons at University College Falmouth in 2000. Its amazing how this models the way we perceive the city and the building structure as a sort of abstraction. From the stationary cupboard to the Streets of the world.

Ephemicropolis by Peter Root

Image by Peter Root / Detail Ephemicropolis.

This comes via ashjdkahlasd

Friday, 11 June 2010

Book - The Urban Connection

Strong concepts and approaches in planning, shaping and maintaining urban areas are very scarce these days and it is more a 'we figure it out by ourselves' climate. At least if one dwells in the romanic admiration of past epochs. Looking back, from a different standpoint, puts a different perspective on things and relating this to current or upcoming tasks, one is tempted to believe everything was simpler and better in the old days. (But it was not! as a statement to move on.) Still the lack of a strategy, an overall idea or a concept one can relate projects, processes and task to is a problem. Not so much for the quality of the output or the individual project, but for the discipline and the communication. So much effort needs to be put in for the translation or the connection that too often this is neglected. In this sense it hinders the progress, the richness and the ability to react on different levels.
A approach that has been recently dug out and is now published in a book with a lot of contextual information and supported by case studyes illustrating the point is by Luuk Boelens 'The Urban COnnection - An actor relational approach to urban planning' published by 010 Publishers. The concept of an actor oriented practice contrasts directly with the traditional retrospective analysis of studies. The benefit is the concrete aspects of the examples as well as the suggestions and solution orientated conclusions well suited for a globalising but fragmenting world. Speaking of globalisation, this, I believe, forms an important part of the context in which this publication stands. On one hand reflected in the choice of case studies represented in the 'referencial argument' presented as 'boxes' or special inter chapters, looking at Denver and Dallas-Fort Worth, the Pearl River Delta, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. On the other hand this reflects the topics raised in the current debate concerned with global phenomena as well as the vanishing identity of local areas.
This is obvious a massive task, but strikingly successful. By touching on and integrating a multidisciplinary perspective on planning, economics, social geography and governance this starts to paint a holistic picture. Explained in a few words, Jaqueline Cramer, Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning, tried to summarise the concept as: "It's not them, it's just a whole lot of us."
For me this is the central and most important argument for a new approach, claiming back owner ship of the urban areas, the spaces and landscapes. It is not a service out there that we enjoy, its not a shopping mall and its not a place we payed for an entry ticket! On the contrary as Cramer puts it it is us, we make the city.
This of course brings with it the responsibility a;; of us have to carry, the most normal thing in the world, one could argue, has become the privilege of the elite role models.
The content of the publication is structured in two parts. First as a 'scientific argument' in five chapters: 'Dutch spatial planningin transition', 'Main and brainport planning 2.0', 'Transnational communities', 'Institutional order via association' and 'Outlines for a new planning future'. This is followed by the second part of the earlier mentioned 'Referential argument' in two chapters: 'A relational tale of metropolises' and 'References as suggestion for further research'.

Image by 010 Publishers / Spread 60-61 'The Urban Connection - An actor relational approach to urban planning.

The examples in the 'boxes' examine one example each in specific detail and wider context. The first box focuses on Rotterdam: from staple port to main port and further. Here the usual historical facts and stories are presented, but with a special focus on the actors. In a lot of detail the individuals or companies are portrayed to find out about their role and actions in a wider context. This not only makes the story a lot more interesting but actually allows for an additional perspective. It does require to some extend a courageous stand to tackle the historic problem with this sort of a standpoint, since the author has to leave the tall platform of objectivity and take on a more subjective position. This is, as beautifully demonstrated here, however very beneficial.

Image by 010 Publishers / Spread 108-109 'The Urban Connection - An actor relational approach to urban planning.

In the chapter transnational communities South America stands a the centre with a focus on Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo who both are largely immigrant cities, not least based on the fact both are founded by European Colonials, the Spanish and Portuguese respectively. These immigrants forme large communities in these urban areas and in general identify clearly with the place. This is for me a very interesting point of view that is argued here, how these transnational communities play a major role in the running of these cities portrayed as actors and not as usual as part of the problem. This completely changes the picture and disarms all the standard arguments and solutions on the spot. A joy, opening new perspectives that were thought to be lost in the haystack.

A book that outlines an approach that doe not only sound promising but actually looks promising. The richness of examples and concrete conclusions and suggestions make this a perfect starting point for experts of the trans disciplinary field and global community to change their minds and perspectives. For many I imagine this will be spoken from the heart. Finally something to hold in the hands as a 'leitmotif' for everyday practice.

The book can also be found online at Google Books for a first read, but as usual the previe is restricted in parts.

Image by 010 Publishers / Book cover 'The Urban Connection - An actor relational approach to urban planning.

Boelens, L., 2009. The Urban Connection: An Actor-relational Approach to Urban Planning, 010 Publishers.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Mood Mapping - How do you Feel Today?

'How are you?' a phrase used constantly at meeting someone. Rarely the response is anything other than a 'fine'. The relationship between location or activity and mood has been subject for lots of research projects, for example the early mental maps by Peter Gould and Rodney White of desired locations to life, Christian Nold's BioMapping or Sorin Matei's Maps of Los Angeles spaces.
With the Glow iPhone app the latest persona mood is georeferenced and contributes to a location based mood map. It offeres a palett of features, leaving the actual mood meter bit almost behind. Anyway, what you get is a map, a AR view window and a bunch of sharing options, including twitter and facebook.
The mood is then visualised with an outwards fading blob of glowing reds, purples and blues. Looks neat and makes you feel almost a bit better.
To see the map you first have to contribute your current mood status. The AR looks particularly promising with its superimposed colour schema.
Check it out and add your moods to the cloud, the app is free.

Image by urbanTick / Screen shots from the mood app GLOW for the iPhone. Location based sharing of your current mood.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

City Groove - Tokyo

Tokyo the dense city with the many lights, buzzing streets and total anonymity in the crowd. Or as here the beautiful place, sitting in context between speed rail and the colour changing sky.

Produced by Stefan Werc on a Canon 7D, music, Broadcast 2000 "get up and go"

Get up and go from Stefan Werc on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Tracking - Following Your Very Own Virtual Moves

It is really something that is the aesthetic of the time. Thin black endless wiggly lines on an abstract white background, densifying here, loosening up here only to cuddle in an other heap of completely tangled up strings over her. These abstract patterns are visually fascinating, but why this is, I am not sure. One thing is the abstraction from an obvious continuos activity of some sort, the presence of an invisible repetition, of which one is sure must be there and the forming pattern of density and mess.
We have, over the last two, three years learned to recognise these sort of drawings as movement line. Movement of people and animals perhaps, but movement lines quite different from other movement paths previously visualised such as the path of the sun or planets, the movement of shadows or water. It contains the aspects of immediate and real-time decision on the spot, the reaction to a range of influences from large scale, distant events, to the immediate surrounding and interactions with other static or moving objects. It represents in this sense a process as a string of events that were actively dealt with. This aspect of process or in this context better 'creation' - in the sense of creating as you go along, of individual actions influenced by background, experience and personality - is a unique characteristic that usually is either underestimated and erase-simplified or over estimated by putting it as random. What exactly is its role in a denser aggregated context?

Image by urbanTick / Movement tracking over the period of 1.9 hours working in the evening on some posts and mapping tasks. The activity is captured as curser positions using the software IOGraphica.

The visualisation here, come very close to what has been described above, but actually it does not represent any physical movement, it is a simple track map of the curser activity on the computer screen. There are similarities, however the context is extremely confined and designed to work and relate in a specific way. Nevertheless it produces visually interesting images. And if your bored and dont have time to go for a walk, a stole and drift thought the city, let you mouse curser do it for you. The too is called IOGraphica was deveoped by Anatoly Zenkov and Andrey Shipilov and is currently available in v0.9. A tool to run in the background and track you workday at the desk. One started it records each location of the curser as well as the duration, draws lines between them and upon request visualises the time spent per location as growing black dots. Only a few options available but nicely presented.
Download from HERE. See some more visuals on flickr.

Thanks to Paul M. fo the link

Monday, 7 June 2010

Book - Cartography of Time

A long awaited book with the tremendously interesting subject of time and mapping is finally out. Princeton Architectural Press has published a beautiful scholarly book by the two professors Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton, 'Cartography of Time - A History of the Timeline' Beautiful in this case means not only the layout is nice, but this also extend to the presentation, material, text and depth and presentation of research.
Alone the collection of examples is astonishing and can serve as a visual encyclopaedia. I happily spend hours just browsing the pages and dive here and there in contextual texts of one of the illustrations.
The timing for this publication seems perfect. Time is a hotter topic than ever, from science labs to the work place to everyday live. Every service has a temporal aspect these days.
The content is presented in eight chapters, that seem to fit with the content maybe because it has multiple meanings. For one it represents loosely history, but also the history of the book as the process of developing and writing it and at the same time imposes structure to large groups of aspects. It starts with genealogy charts and develops over linear history charts to end in the chapter 'Big Time' where arrangements of long term timescales up to the current days are presented. Even though we take the timeline as a given tool of communication, the authors demonstrate here how this understanding was developed and how it came to be so intuitive.

Image taken from Cartographies of Time p120 / Joseph Priestley, 1769, A New Chart of History.

The examples shown are documented and explained with of lot of care for details and put in context. A lot of te examples are beautiful coloured in with watercolours, showing these quiet but present colours of green yellow, red and blue. Most examples are linear, but some are circular or even three dimensional. It features John Sparks' 1931 'The Histomap' but also R. Buckminster Fuller's 1943 'Profile of the Industrial Revolution as Exposed by theChronological Rate of Acquisition of the Basic Inventory of Cosmic Absolutes' and his 1963 'Shrinking of our Planet by Man's Increased Travel And COmmunication Speed Around the Globe'.
The book puts a lot of emphasis on the graphics and representation techniques. So not surprising, the first book quoted is Eduard Tufte's 'The Visual Display of Quantitative Information'
and the second is from the same author, 'Beautiful Evidence'.
The publication makes it clear in the first sentence what the content is about: "While historical texts have long been subject to critical analysis, the formal and historical problem posed by graphic representation of time have largely been ignored." (p.10) The authors introduce two terms for one subject, History = Time. Very few publications actually state their intentions this clearly and usually try to benefit from some vague outlines. 'Cartographies of Time' really is a history book, as the authors themselves admit in the lecture.

Image taken from Cartographies of Time p24 / Manuscipt timeline for Olaf Stapledon's classic 1930 science fiction novel, 'Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future.

For me, in this sense, the title of the book can be a little misleading and the move to declare time and history the same is questionable. For me there are overlaps and one (history) benefits from the other (time - especially concepts of linear times as in the sense of a time 'line' line). However the publication incudes representation of time that go beyond a pure history representation. For example it features Charls Josephs Minard's 1860s graph depicting Napleon's assult on Russia, a first sketches of ideas and devices to capture many frames in immediate sequence as developed by Muybridge and Marey in , '201 Days' artwork by Katie Lewis where she mapped body sensation over a period of time on an abstract map or the 'Historical Atlas' by Eduard Quin published in 1828 depicting the spatial extension of the known world at different points in time using clouds as a graphical metaphor of the unknown.
Those examples for me indicate that there is a lot more to the aspect of time than the traditionally linear approach often chosen by historians. But at the same time history is not history and in the meaning of the word, for me, has more to do with story than line. In a sense I picture history and mapping history especially, similar to J. R. R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' map of Middle-earth and accurat representation of an idea. TIme and time concepts are very much representations of a social and scientific understanding or concept. I am aware that this is a big discussion and authos such as Zerubavel or Thrift have written extensively about it.

Image taken from Cartographies of Time p128 / Eduard Quin, 'An Historical Atlas'. The European known Earth shown through clouds from the birth of Christ to the death of Constantine, A.D. 337. In full color from Scandinavia and Morocco to Korea.

However even though it is absent from this publication here, it was stated by the authors at the very beginning and this publication has its strength, as highlighted above, in very different areas.
This is a book about the graphical representation of history, told along a brilliantly selected chain of examples and the physical extend of it clearly shows that this is enough. Further more, the content demonstrates that this book contributes a significant elements, again as identified by the authors, to the field of time research as well as the discussion, for witch debating the subject again in this case is not necessary.
But maybe there is room for a sister publication on the representation of time in other fields, for example time, space, maths, religion, ...

For additional reviews see the one on Bibliodyssey or information and a audio record of the lecture given by the authors at the book launch party organised by Cabinet.

Rosenberg, D. & Grafton, A., 2010. Cartographies of Time, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

New City Landscape - Tweetography

We have been monitoring different cities' tweeting habits over the past months using the Tweet-O-Meter. This project is developed together with DigitalUrban and was coded by Steven Gray. Earlier we had covered a London Weekend (HERE, HERE, HERE) and now we are looking at four cities. Those are New York, London, Paris and Munich over the period of one week.
The data is derived from tweets sent via a mobile device from an app that includes the location at the time of sending the message. We see large differences between the overall tweeting as well as in the mobile usage of twitter. London and New York generally send about the same amount of tweets, New York however has about twice the amont of mobile users compared to London.

Image by urbanTick / New York tweetography, the New City Landscsape generated from tweet density. Click map for a detailed version.

From the pool of tweets covering the city we have generated the New City Landscapes as a form of tweetography. Here the landscape features corresponds with the twitter activity of locals. THe mountains rise over active locations and cliffs drop down in to calm vallies flowing out to tweet deserts. Through out the emerging landscape features have been renamed to reflect the conditions.
The data is based on information collected over a seven day week last month. SOme temporal graphs will follow. There are obviously differences in temporal activities, but the New City Landscape is an overview of the logged time frame as a whole.

Image by urbanTick / New York tweetography, the New City Landscsape generated from tweet density - Zoom.

Charactering New York along the New City Landscape we can distinguish a massif of mountains from Fordham Heights southwards over the Central Harlem Rock, dropping down into Central Park to steeply rise up to the Timesquare Peak a long a ridge to the NYU Top to the Chinatown Head, where it starts dropping down the Financial Cliff. Towards the East the Manhattan Bridge Ditch separates this massif from the Brooklyn set of peaks. Were it starts with the Downtown Peak towards Bedford Hill, turning south over Ocean Hill, Rugby Ridge down towards Flatlands into the Mill Bassin Curve, dropping into the Jamaica Bay Pit. Another smaller group of hills form around the Jamaica Hills, Rosedale Hill and JFK Terminal 4 Point. For more details refer to the detailed map. Special thanks to John Reads for helping out with local knowledge.

Image by urbanTick / London tweetography, the New City Landscsape generated from tweet density. Click map for a detailed version.

London has compared to New York a centralised Peak structure with the Soho Mountain as its peak. The massif here falls from this point in all directions with a north ridge going along the Camden Ridge across Arsenal Point, Finsbury Park Ridge to the Tottenham Hill. This line ends with the Edmonton Peak at the Ponders End. Further outside singular peaks can be found such as the Heathrow Peak, the Selsdon Peak or the Chaffordon Hundred Hill in the East.

Image by urbanTick / London tweetography, the New City Landscsape generated from tweet density - Zoom.

We are still working on other maps. Munich and Paris are under way and more are to come soon. The language translation is tricky but with the help of specialists we might get that together.
Here a Munich preview.

Image by urbanTick / Munich tweetography, the New City Landscsape generated from tweet density. Click map for a detailed version.

Update 2010-06-04

Paris is now joining the other three cities. Here is the New City Landscape map of the Ille de France. Special thanks go to Annick for helping out with the terminology.

Image by urbanTick / Paris tweetography, the New City Landscsape generated from tweet density. Click map for a detailed version.

And the zoom-in as a preview

Image by urbanTick / Paris tweetography, the New City Landscsape generated from tweet density - Zoom.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Geotaggers' World Atlas

It is online since last week, the Geotaggers' World Atlas derived from geo taged photographs on flickr and picasa. Eric Fischer has put together a series of 100 World cities mapped out by the click of cameras of locals and tourists. By acessing the API's of both flickr and picasa Fischer was able to process thousands of images per location.
Fischer doesn't only plot the location, but takes traces movement by individual photographer including sort of classifying the mode of transport by speed derived from the time stamps. The differen colours read as: black is less than 7 mph (11 km/h), red is less than 19 mph (30 km/h), blue is less than 43 mph (69 km/h) - car, and green is faster.
This is an amazing collection rendered on top of an OSM background layer. Check out the rest of the cities in the flickr set.

The Geotaggers' World Atlas #12: Vancouver
Image by Eric Fischer / The Vancouver Duck, derived from geotaged flickr and picasa photographs. The colouring corresponds to speed of traveling between the different pictures.

Thanks for the link to Matt from Wiser is the Path.

2010-06-09 UPDATE

Eric has processed the data further and created a second set of maps of the world cities using the same sources. This time the focus is on who takes the picture and what is this persons relationship to the place. He works with thee categories, local, tourist and not to determine. This highlights the areas of which only locals take snaps in read and areas were predominantly locals, blue, take pictures. Very obvious there are places tourists just don't go to on a short visit to an unknown place, for a number of reasons. This can be lack of knowledge, not knowing the directions or not interested. On the other hand high profile places might not be very interesting for locals. In a lot of the maps large areas are actually covered in blue where locals document their city. New set can be found on flickr.

Locals and Tourists #11 (GTWA #12): Vancouver
Image by Eric Fischer / The Vancouver Duck, derived from geotaged flickr and picasa photographs. Blue points on the map are pictures taken by locals (people who have taken pictures in this city dated over a range of a month or more).
Red points are pictures taken by tourists (people who seem to be a local of a different city and who took pictures in this city for less than a month).
Yellow points are pictures where it can't be determined whether or not the photographer was a tourist (because they haven't taken pictures anywhere for over a month). They are probably tourists but might just not post many pictures at all.

Thanks for the link to Ralph Bartel