Friday, 27 May 2011

iPhone Dot View- Capture the CIty Around You

The guys at kogeto are experts for panoramic videos captured using the a 360 mirror lens. The current high end product, Lucy, is widely used in education and science. The company now bring out a mini version for the iPhone allowing for panoramic video capturing in stunning quality on the gadget of choice.

kogeto Dot
Image taken from mobiles-actus / The kogeto Dot 360 panoramic lens kit attached to the iPhone 4.

This is especially exciting since there were earlier on urbanTick some panoramic imaging articles using the 360 lens for normal sized cameras mainly for timeLapse projects like the London Small World. Back then we use the 360 VR.

The panoramic imaging stuff at large cale was definitely being introduced to a wider audience via the Google Street View and brought to people by the GOogle StreetCars. However they still use a number of cameras on the car roof, as doo most of the panoramic image capturing projects such as Nokia and some London Borroughs.

kogeto Dot
Image taken from designboom / The kogeto Dot 360 panoramic lens kit attached to the iPhone 4.

The real peoples gadgets were the GigaPans using the GigaPan platform to share the panoramic images. For moving into panoramic images there have been for a long time only very few, very specialised and expensive systems. Google tested it, but also Microsoft has some projects running in their research labs for it to be used for in-car navigation and driving directions. After the success of Google Street View on and off the streets, other companies set about to deliver the same as 360 panoramic videos. They asre mainly targeting tourist destinations.

Video by Christian Mazza / For the interactive version, 'A walk through Soho in New York while they are filming Men in Black 3', playing in the original video player please, please click HERE.

To have it not as a gadget fot he gadget and be able to shoot panoramic videos on the iPhone on the go it fantastic. This is really taking the technology a step further and making it accessible for a wider user group.

The Dot clips on directly to the iPhone 4 via a semi iPhone case and is ready to go. kogeto ships the lens together with a software that wil automatically unwrap the image and display it interactively on the iPhone screen so that you can pan around as you record. However, the lens of course also works with the normal camera app or any other timeLapse app for example. The unwrapping however has in those cases to be done in postproduction.

kogeto Dot
Image taken from mashkulture / The kogeto Dot 360 panoramic lens kit attached to the iPhone 4.

The product should be ready this summer at kogeto they are working hard at geting the stuff out. They are using KickStarter to fund the project and have been extremely successfull and already high above the targeted funding sum. However you can still becone one of the funders of the project and for $98 you will be the first to get a Dot for your beloved iPhone.

Video by kogeto / The promotion clip for the Dot.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

San Francisco Mental Maps

A team of students from Berkley has taken on the project of mental mapping San Francisco. It has turned in to a really interesting piece of research about how people see the city and how they imagine the city.

Using Mental Maps is nothing new it goes way back to Lynch and Gould and White, but it has not been used for a while and in combination with digital tools it could have a sort of revival. The great aspect on this project 'Visualizing Mental Maps of San Francisco' by Rachelle Annechino and Yo-Shang Cheng is how they allow room for the method to breath the uncertainty of its nature. Mental Mapping is not about accuracy and precision, or truth and objectivity and to combine this with GIS or mapmaking is a very difficult task for not to say impossible.

San Francisco - Corridors
Image taken from Visualizing Mental Maps of SF / San Francisco’s Deadzones and Corridors is a map depicting both where the city’s “corridors” or main drags are, the neighborhood names associated with them and a measure of “neighborhood-ness” throughout the city (the residential density metric). The map has three layers: a choropleth (heatmap) of residential density in red tones, areas zoned for commercial activity in blue and street segments with verified commercial activity in yellow..

The essential thing is to give the playfulness a meaning and find a balance for mapping it in GIS. With this project it is not achieved in the detail, but in the overal construction, how the different sections combine and the picture the presented result paints.

"I think of San Francisco as being a bunch of main streets in small towns, all smushed next to each other."

The project is the team's final master project at the School of Information at University of California in Berkley. The link to the final project presentation can be found HERE and the very detailed report is HERE.

The findings are presented in seven groups and you would probably expect more Kevin Lynch influence, but they firmly hold up their own topics. Which is great, it's over fifty years in between, but still from a urban planning perspective the five groups defined by lynch should at least have been challenged.

Their topics are Orientation: Which way is North? It doesn't always have to be at the top of the page. Re-orient or dis-orient yourself in San Francisco. Corridors: Where are the hearts of each neighborhood? Barriers: Is it really that close? It's not always as simple as it looks getting from one neighborhood to another in San Francisco. Boundaries: What neighborhood are you in? According to whom? Storymaps: Take a tour of the city, guided by the thoughts of locals. Game: Ready, set, go. Invisible bike race! Gallery: Draw a map or a picture of your neighborhood, however you see the space.

San Francisco - Boundaries
Image taken from Visualizing Mental Maps of SF / Visualising Neighbourhood areas from different sources. Some of the boundaries are firm and bold, where as other can be fuzzy and blurred.

The different topics each address an aspect and the project combines the data collected through participants with additional information such as landuse and density as for the Corridors, but also with various sources such as Wikipedia, Zillow and Craglist for the Boundaries. This creates an interesting mix that manages to minimise the burden usually put on the Mental Maps in terms of expectations. They play a lot better in combination. Especially the sequence on boundaries and the changes over time on Wikipedia is really an interesting aspect of the boundary definition and naming discussion.

San Francisco - Sketches
Image taken from Visualizing Mental Maps of SF / A Mental Map sketch by Victoria F., one of the participants of the study. She has been living in San Francisco for 23 years.

There is a lot about the city that has be pulled out using somehow unconventional combinations of techniques and it offers great access to 'local' knowledge of the place.

Via Roomthily

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

London Low Life - Historic Maps

AxisMaps offers a new online historic maps page to cover Londons past. It is a great resource overlaying about 30 maps dated between 1800 and 1900, on a digital current map based on open street map data. The service allows for interaction with to zoom in for great level of detail.

The producers of the service proposa a concept of space and place as a conceptual framework to understand and use the service. As they define it: "Space or “Which areas of Victorian London are most similar / different to each other (and how did that change over time)?” The 19th century was a dynamic time for London and its population and we wanted to let you explore that by the numbers. Organized by metropolitan works district, you can see how and where the population of London changed over 100 years. We’ve also included the locations of social institutions throughout London as their locations help us understand how the city tried to cope with the changing nature of its urban population.

axisMaps Landmark
Image taken from London Low Life / Image showing the London Zoo from the World's Metropolis, or, Mighty London.

Place or “What was it like to be in Victorian London?” As London’s population was changing in the 19th century, the city itself was being reshaped. This map contains 3 different perspectives on the changing city. Historic base maps not only give you a top-down view of the city; they also allow you to see what aspects of the city cartographer’s felt were important enough to include on their maps. Original images let you see the important features of the city from a variety perspectives. Finally, the Tallis streetviews allow you to put yourself on a London street and look around."

Iframe embeded from London Low Life / Click HERE for full version.

It is however not only about the maps, there is great additional information. This ranges from Street View to population data and also includes details of landmarks and infrastructure. The Street View is based on the maps and drawings produced during the 19th century by John Tallis. He was a publisher of maps in London and his company produced this very comprehensive Street frontage atlas. AxisMaps have now made this accessible via this online platform using pins on the map that correspond to digitised
scans. It is even possible to move around in the streetview and of course see both sides of the road.

axisMaps Population
Iframe embeded from London Low Life / Image showing the popuation of London around 1850.

With the additional information, the service covers population over the whole of the century and as well as population density and population change. In the infrastructure section the data details location and covers a range of types, such as prisons, universities, orphanages, work houses and lunatyc asylums. For most areas there are also additional documents such a s sketches and drawings to illustrate specific landmarks or institutions.

The platform provides a great experience of Victorian London and lets you explore many different aspects of a great city over a whole century. This interactive time-warp makes it a lot of fun and can become rather addictive. However it would be great if the information could be a bit more personal and engaging. At the moment it is very much the look at type of conventional museum presentation, very much a teaching environment.

It fits in with a range of other great tools providing access to historic location information, such as the iPhone app Historic Earth, the Walking Through Time iPhone app, or the augmented reality iPhone app Streetmuseum provided by the Museum of London.

Iframe embeded from London Low Life / Digital version of John Talli's London Street View.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Typography in Context

Letters and signs are a fundamental part of communication and make it possible to transport information. It extends on the spoken words by enabling shifts in time. The information is conserved to some extend and can be transported.

Writing dominates the urban landscape and there are plates of information everywhere. This form of extended communication can be very visual and is therefore preferably used over any other sort of information method. Nevertheless it is a very intellectual form of communicaiton and not at all intuitive or natural.

Since letters can be found everywhere one could accidentally stumble over some typographic symbols in the built environment. Lisa Rienermann found the whole alphabet in the streets of New York, somewhere between the roof line and the sky.

Type the sky
Image by Lisa Rienermann / Project Type the Sky - A photographic Alphabet Awarded by the TDC New York 2007 and :output foundation 2008

Another great source for spotting things of course are aerial images and Google Earth is the tool of choice for typography spotters. Darren Dub has found the all over the world. He says: "Alphabet collection using google earth. This was made for my typography class. I found all of these letters after countless hours of searching google earth." The music is "Where is my mind?" by the Pixies. Some of the locations include: Munich, Madrid, Seattle, SF Bay Area, Prague, Miami, Beijing, Rome, Amsterdam, Tokyo and more.

More letters on Google Earth spotted by Rhett Dashwood in the state of Victoria, Australia between 2008 and 2009. This is the way to get to know your backyard a little better by looking for something in detail and you'll discover a lot of other things accidentally. Dashwood has put online a map with the alphabet marked and it is possible to click through and discover Victoria by the letter.

Typography in Victory on Google Earth
Image taken from Rhett Dashwood / Over the course of several months beginning October 2008 to April 2009 I've spent some of my spare time between commercial projects searching Google Maps hoping to discover land formations or buildings resembling letter forms.

The artist Christopher LaBrooy has picked up on this sort of spotting and taken it further, speculating about the typography of famous architects and their trademark style. As a speculation he developed his favourite architects name spelt out as built letters.

Image taken from Christopher LaBrooy / Typography design based on the architecture of Tadao Ando. I picked out my favourite buildings as a basis for developing some expressive letter forms. Included are : Chikatsu Asuka historical museum - Water temple - Naoshima contemporary art museum annexe.

Image taken from Christopher LaBrooy / Typography design based on the architecture of zaha hadid. With this piece I focused on capturing zaha's formal language rather than reference specific buildings because i am very interested in her drawings and paintings from the eighties.

Via WebUrbanist and Gizmodo.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Scanning the City Details

Traditionally Lidar is the method of choice to scann urban environments at large scale. Usually this is using an airborne method for scanning large areas using laser scanning technologies to build up large point cloud data sets to remodel the environment in 3d.

This is great for virtual 3d city models where the point coud is usually mapped in combination with aerial imagery. Some of the CASA 3D London models, developed by Dr Andrew Hudson-SMith, are based on such datasets.

scanLAB Bartlett Summer Show 2010
Image taken from scanLAB / In 2010, 48 hours of colour 3D scanning produced 64 scans of the entire exhibition space using a Faro Photon 120 laser scanner. These have been compiled to form a complete 3D replica of the temporary show which has been distilled into a navigable animation (shown here) and a series of 'standard' architectural drawings. This body of work creates a permanent record of the temporary exhibition, not through recording images or video but solely through 3D scanning.

The scanning however can also be used on the ground, where things area little different. The range is usually likely to be limited due to obstacles and interference, but there is a lot of potential for detail. So can it be used for outdoor and indoor data capturing as wel as details the passageways and entrances.

A great example was developed by scanLABprojects, a Bartlett spinOff using FARO scanners to document the famous Bartlett Summer Show. For the 2010 version of the annual exhibition, scanLAB has reproduced the whole exhibition in 3D as a remaining documentation of a temporal event.

scanLAB Bartlett Summer Show 2010
Image taken from scanLAB / A classical sectional drawing derived from the scanned dataset.

The producers Matthew Shaw and William Trossell explain about the project:"A series of high resolution plans, sections and elevations have been extracted from the 3D scanned data set and will be exhibited soon. In these drawings, a three dimensional, sensual and temporary experience, is abstracted into a series of precisely detailed snap shots in time. The work becomes a collage of hours of delicately created lines and forms set within a feature prefect representation of the exhibition space. Sometimes a model or image stands out as identifiable, more often a sketch merges into a model and an exhibition stand creating a blurred hybrid of designs and authors. These drawings represent the closest record to an ‘as built’ drawing set for the entire exhibition and an 'as was' representation of the Bartlett's year."

This technology is very interesting for a lot of things including a complete city scan. Would be a lot of work, but one can already imagine the Google cars being equipped with scanners rather than cameras driving the lot again, capturing more information, more detail and the 3d model with it. However scanLAB have already run some tests and youtube also has some examples of how detailed and representative such scans could be. Actually it is pretty nice and has a very distinct style to it, which could eventually develop into a more subtile representation of 3d environment. It is nothing like 3D worlds or rendering, it has a very thin and fragile aura to it that very specific and likable.

scanLAB scanning the city
Image taken from scanLAB / Subverting the LiDAR Landscape a city scanning project by scanLAB.

Friday, 20 May 2011

New City Landscape - Geneva

Geneva is the Swiss city with the most important international connections. In Geneva a lot of international organisations have a headquarter such as UNO, WHO, UNHCR, ILO, WIPO and the Red Cross. But there are also other institution of international significance based, such a the CERN or the World Wide Web Library.

This results in a very dense network of international connections and puts a rather small city on the world map. Geneva only has a population of some 190'000 people. This makes it the second largest city in Switzerland after Zuerich and before Basel and Bern.

Geneva New City Landscape
Image by urbanTick for NCL / Geneva New City Landscape map generated from location based tweets collected over the period of one week. The area covered is within a 30 km radius of Geneva.

Geneva is just like Basel another Swiss city located right at the border. Here it is the crossing between Switzerland and France. The map with a 30km radius then covers large areas of France too. It reaches right down to the French town of Annecy in the south.

The international flair in Geneva together with the beautiful scenery around the Lake of Geneva (Lac Leman) and the proximity to the mountains with great ski resorts also attracts high profile celebrities, who either live there or have a second home. For example Yoko Ono, Shania Twain or Phil Collins all live around the Lake Geneva. Also interesting there is a very special group of celebrities living in the area Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, Jean Alesi, Alain Prost, David Coulthard and Fernando Alonso I wonder if they all go together for a spin around Lake Geneva once a week.

Geneva New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Geneva 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 maps were created using our CASA Tweet-O-Meter, in association with DigitalUrban and coded by Steven Gray, this New City Landscape represents location based twitter activity.

The very peak of the Geneva NCL is just above the Jet d'Eau the major Geneva landmark. It is located in the port out on a jetty shooting 500 litre of water per second 140 meter into the sky. It has been the symbol for the past 130 years.

In the main hill most of the international organisations are included. There are a number of tweets from UNO, WHO and so on just to the North East of the Jet d'Eau. The second peak next to the central one is around the international airport and the PalExpo in the area of Vernier. An then there is a sort of activity ridge along the north shore of the Lake Geneva, the locations most of the international celebrities live.

Geneva timeRose
Image by urbanTick for NCL / The rose shows the twitter activity per hour of the day, starting at 00:00 at the top, displayed in local time. Geneva is a night time city with more activity between midnight and four than through out the work day. The graphs show the platform of preference used to send the tweet and the language set respectively.

Interestingly the data for Geneva shows a completely different time activity pattern than any of the urban areas looked at before. So far the activity over 24 hours always more or less fitted with the normal day activity pattern and showed the characteristic activity low between the early morning hours 3am - 4am. However Geneva has its activity peaks between 1am and 3am and overall the general activity high is between midnight and 6am.

Regarding the language English and Japanese are leading the table before French. Maybe this could explain the out of hour activity. Users are tweeting with and to different parts of the world during odd times, because of the different local times.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Building a New City - Saving the Planet

It hase come a bit out of fashion to build new cities. It sort of comes in waves or trends when suddenly a lot of cities are being planned and built, but then the ide dies out again. The Romans build a lot of cities, then it was quiet in Europe until the Medieval times when cities came back into fashion with market rights and privileges but really was a topic during the renaissance period. Of course during the industrialisation cities were all the topic again but for all the negative reason, leading to the planning of new cities, the garden city idea. Later on during the 20th century the New Town movement brought us some new settlements. Since then with the acknowledgement of the associated problems, the conflict between structured objectivity and perceived livability.

Skolkovo Innovation Center
Image taken from Univers Utopia / A drawing of the city of Palmanova near Venice.

The ver idea of a new city and the theories around building a new place however are kind of persistent. Its a sort of statice vision. With the search for better conditions and the idealistic vision of the sustainable city, the beginning of the 21st century was marked with a few city planning projects mainly in connection with the boom in the Middle East. One of the projects Gateway City with the Dead Star by OMA and the other project, Masdar City by Foster and Partners.

Russia has not hada prestigious urban planning project for a while and has now after the Middle East boom relaunched the idea of planning a new city. Here again the focus is on technology and innovation with the promise of better quality, better conditions and of course peace of mind with numerous sustainability promisses.

The new development lead by French planners AREP Ville is branded as the Russian Silicon Valley (Press Release) using big global companies to demonstrate the attractiveness of the plans. Amongst them are according to the Fast Company Intel, Nokia, Siemens, and Cisco

The new city will be planned in Skolkovo just outside Moscow. The project came out of competition that also featured for example OMA, Foster and Partner, ARUP or Albert Speer.

In their article the Fast Company puts it as: "The 15,000-person, $4.3 billion city will feature five zones, each focusing on a different area of research: IT, nuclear, biomedical technologies, energy, and space research. Residents will get the benefit of picturesque tree-lined walkways, bike paths, and foot bridges. And, presumably, free-flowing vodka." The cities project manager, Viktor Maslakov, is quoted as saying: "The pedestrian will come first, followed by cyclists and public transport. It will be linked to Moscow by high-speed trains taking 17-20 minutes." This will mean a very drastic change in Russa, where the car is very much still the dominating the traffic landscape.

Architects plan for the town to generate its own electricity using solar panels, wind farms and wells that tap into geothermal energy.

Skolkovo Innovation Center
Image taken from the Fast Company - Overview of the new planned innovation centre by AREP.

With the latest series of cities, from Masdar to Skolkovo, the talking of new cities has change quite substantially. It is now about figures and performance, about technology and numbers. The city has become a product in a sense, usually branded as a science park with inovation cluster promoted to save the global problems. Where New Towns still had this strong Garden City ideology to improve peoples live, enable them to live in their individual house and play a role in the local community. The science cities are positioned as global hubs for urban nomads on business trips bringing fresh ideas and reinventing the wheel. These new cities are promoted as entities in a global market with very little concept of locality beyond icons.

Urbanisation is however still trending to increase and as Mike Batty discusses in his Commentary in the latest Environment and Planning A volume 43 is likely to increase. Batty discusses the urban growth from looking at the historic development and out of this developing a longterm perspective. He calls it 'When all the World is a City' as the predictions are that everybody will be living in cities by the end of the century, but also points out the there are indications that it is likely not all will be connected to the giant cluster.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Lima Crossroad

A nice timelapse bringing a three hour observation down to a gripping two minutes. It features on ly one scene, but the intensity of the cross road in view is quite fascinating. There is a vague eb and flow rhythm to it as a result of the stop and go traffic.

Besides the car traffic there is quite a lot of pedestrian movement along the side, across the roads, at the bus stop and around the phone box. The blue phone box is actually the very centre of the scene and serves for many additional functions. There are two guys using it to phone someone, but it also serves very well for leaning on.

The clip was shot by JustOneArtist using the Nokia N8 CameraPro App. It loos a bit clunky from the interface, but as you can see delivers great quality results. You can watch it ful screen in HD. JustOneArtist used a setting of every 3 sec. for 3 hours to take pictures. He also used After Effects to get the tilt shift effect in and add the sound.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

4/10 Why Mediate Art? - Twitter Text Network

Milan based Mousse magazine is running a series with the title 'Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating'. The editor of the series, Jens Hoffmann explains: "it emerged from a desire to trace the coordinates of contemporary curatorial practice, to take stock of a profession that is constantly evolving. Through the contributions of ten curators, the ten essays in the project examine ten fundamental themes in curating. The booklets are structured as hypothetical chapters in a book that once completed, through the reflections of some of the leading figures in the contemporary scene, will try to offer an answer to the question of “what it means to be a curator today”

I was invited by the London based artist Marysia Lewandowska to collaborate on her contribution to the fourth edition.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of '4/10 Why Mediate Art?'.

The fourth instalment of “Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating” looks for an answer to the question “Why Mediate Art?”. The editor Jens Hoffmann invited Maria Lind to contribute who in turn proposed to work with Marysia Lewandowska as an artist curator collaboration. In her text Maria Lind examines the seeming paradoxes that revolve around art institutions: an overabundance of traditional educational activities, aimed at engaging an ever broader public; marketing departments and press offices that take on a strategic role; curators who have no real interest in making their project known outside the professional sphere. The Swedish curator explains the importance of weaving connections between works, curatorial projects and the public, for a new kind of artistic “mediation”. Marysia Lewandowska proposal extends the meaning of mediation in our networked culture by connecting the ‘followers’ of major contemporary art museum and public galleries and Maria Lind’s text through twitter.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of '4/10 Why Mediate Art?'. Click Image for the interactive version.

This is the time when art is mediated to its audience not only through lectures, seminars, artists’ talks, guided tours and publications but when mediation intervenes as a pulsating stream of immediacy, mixing the promotional intentions of the institution with the visitors’ desires of sharing their observations and responses. The banal is closely entangled with the political, the randomness is attached to a system as announced by the ubiquitous banner: Twitter is a rich source of instantly updated information. It's easy to stay updated on an incredibly wide variety of topics. By utilising the social networking platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter that emerged over the past few years, the communication between the art institutions and their audiences has grown into a real time stream of information snippets.

Interactive version created by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Twitter Education. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click HERE for the full screen version.

What appears on the visuals are graphs mapping tweets sent by three major art institutions, Tate in London, MOMA in New York and Moderna Museet in Stockholm to communicate and mediate their activities as they are enmeshed together with Maria Lind’s text. The two text streams have been aggregated as a word chain, where each word is connected with a link to the following word in the sentence. Each word is represented only once as a node in the chain, but in many cases with multiple connections, edges, to the following words. The resulting visualisation is of a network based on the structure of the words in use. The two different sources are distinguished where red lines represent the links between the words in the tweets sent by the art institutions, while the black lines show the flow of the essay written by Maria Lind. The tweets cover the period between 2009-09-16,15:18 and 2010-11-29 16:03.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of '4/10 Why Mediate Art?'. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click Image for the interactive version.

For artist Marysia Lewandowska the mapping of this flow expresses a desire and interest in distributive networks without restriction; it is the desire of being in touch and engaged, of organising one’s thoughts and sharing them instantly. The knowledge ecologies of a wider world intersect in unexpected ways and point to the role mediation plays in shaping our current social and political life.

Publication - Mousse, Editor - Jens Hoffmann, Text – Maria Lind, Art – Marysia Lewandowska, published 2011.

Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating, edited by Jens Hoffmann and published by Mousse in collaboration with the Fiorucci Art Trust, is distributed with the international edition of Mousse and with subscription copies.

Interactive version created by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Twitter Education. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click HERE for the full screen version.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Data Globe by Google - Chrome Experiments

Google presents fir the currently running I/O conference in San Francisco a new Google Chrome Experiment. The developers print a data globe for visualisation purpose. It's an in-house production and is a sort of simplified Google Earth in black and white showing colourful data spikes.

Its part of the series to demonstrate the power of the web browser. The war is on for quite a while between the companies and is currently fought the hardest on the browser front. Firefox has only just recently launched the new version and Microsoft is currently putting up paper adds across London trying to sell the detail capacity of the all new Explorer.

Image taken from readwriteweb / Screenshot of the WebGL Globe showing world population. Click the image for the interactive version

The chrome Experiments are already an established institution and contains a large selection of projects. Brilliant stuff like the interactive human body in 3D, the TimeLaps GigaPan or last years music video feature the Wilderness Downtown. Its an ongoing collection, so some new features will come up all the time.

The WebGL Globe uses web GL for the rendering all based on JavaScript. Doug Fritz of the Google Data Arts Team explains the challenges as: "The primary challenge of this project was figuring out how to draw several thousand 3D data spikes as quickly and smoothly as possible. To do this, we turned to Three.js, a JavaScript library for building lightweight 3D graphics. For each data point, we generate a cube with five faces – the bottom face, which touches the globe, is removed to improve performance. We then stretch the cube relative to the data value and position it based on latitude and longitude. Finally, we merge all of the cubes into a single geometry to make it more efficient to draw."

Image taken from readwriteweb / Screenshot of the WebGL Globe showing Google Search results by language. Click the image for the interactive version

The second challenge was to create the interaction with the globe to enhance the experiment. since it is 3D users with the experience of Google Earth will want to drag and pan the globe. Using the mouse wheel there is also a zoom function so the data can be looked at locally. In this sense the interaction is quite nice however, the large spikes are difficult to grasp. The local level is really only for the smaller spikes.

The Google Arts Team has put online two data visualisations. One is showing the world population showing at three intervals 1990, 1995, 2000 accessible via some click links. The second visual is showing Google search volume by language.

Currently the tool seems only to offer point data and they have not yet announced a plan for additional features. It is not much more than an visualisation. However they are hoping it will be picked up by the community and have set up a Google code page, but not yet put the code for donned. Currently there seems to be only one custom visual, showing the bloggers mood around the world, based on the english speaking blogger community.

The language for the visualisation is not based on KML, but a sort of JSON interpretation. not sure how the transformation will work but apparently this should be simple. The package is now available for download on the projects Google Code page, including the two examples for reference. If you have a play with it and come up with some exciting stuff you can submit your project to Google HERE.

Image taken from alignedleft / Screenshot of the WebGL Globe showing Recently Blogged Feelings based on english speaking blogs.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Book - Rafael Vinoly Architects

The architect Rafael Vinoly was born in Uruguay but lives and works now in New York. Actually the firm has offices across the network of important cities including London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Abu Dhabi. Surprisingly there is no Rafael Vinoly Architects office in Tokyo.

Surprising that is, because the project he is probably best known is in Tokyo, the Tokyo International Forum. Its a project started back in 1989 and essentially a mixed use complex, pretty much including every possible function. The complexity of the project is dramatically increased by a combination of location and public transport access and connection points. The complex sits on top of different intersecting tube lines and connects to overground and bus.

New Stanford Hospital
Image by Rafael Vinoly Architects, taken from mikesblender / Tokyo International Forum, completed in 1996, by Rafael Vinoly Architects.

The solution Rafael Vinoly Architects have built is essentially a large public hall with a very dramatic roof, transforming the complex into a, in the words of Rafael Vinoly, "social transport hub".

The new Prestel publication on the body of work created by Rafael Vinoly Architects presents in large format the wide spectrum of projects from very early on all the way through to some very recent project, like the New Stanford Hospital, in chronological order. The book, edited by Rafael Vinoly and Philip Jodidio, presents a selection of projects with links to related projects. This makes for quite an interesting reading, where the linearity of a conventional book is interrupted here and there.

New Stanford Hospital
Image by Rafael Vinoly Architects, taken from inhabitat / Rendering of artist impressions of the New Stanford Hospital. Interesting how everyone on the renderings looks so healthy. No wheelchairs crouches or anything.

It is a massive book and it is one of those large volumes that you wont carry with you to take on holiday. However, Rafael Vinoly is one of the really big names in the group of Foster, Renzo Piano, Richard Meier, Rafael Moneo and Frank Gerry. This group of architecture dinosaurs has developed a strange type of commercial but specific architecture operating on a large scale globally. The present project list in this publication suggests no other.

Interesting however are Vinolys very early projects. Some of the work he has been doing while working in Argentina with the Estudio Arquitectura. For example the project for the Amsterdam City Hall in 1967 he developed for the international competition.

Battersea development
Image by Rafael Vinoly Architects, taken from skyscrapercity / Rendering of artist impressions of the Battersea development plan. Not sure what state this project is currently in.

He has also developed projects recently for very public location, including Ground Zero in New York or Battersea in London. Or there is also the 20 Fenchuch Street Tower in London or very decadent in Uruguay, the Edificio Acqua where architecture definitely surrenders to the 'every developer's wet dream' type of building. Neverhteless Rafael Vinoly Architects have some great projects as for example the Mahler 4 Office Tower in Amsterdam.

Book Cover Rafael Vinoly Architects
Image taken from BookPlus / Book cover.

Rafael Vinoly and Philip Jodidio, 2011. Rafael Vinoly Architects, London: Prestel Publishing

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Twitter Ecosystem

Not quite sure which app to use to read and write your tweets? Well it is tricky and there are loads of options out there. Actually it has become a whole Twitter Ecosystem with apps growing into from everywhere, all aiming for the best place under the twitter sun.

Brian Solis and JESS3 created a visual depiction of the, what they call, Twitterverse (as in universe actually). The graphics shows loads of twitter apps neatly ordered and lined up on concentric rings of types. These range form Geographics like trendsmap to rich media like yFrog, to mobile apps like echofone, to twitter search like twazzup.

Each group has its speciality and a niche. This works quite nicely for users. However there is also some overlap between some and this is where it rumbles in the ecosystem.

Check out the interactive map, you can click on the names for in-depth info about each service. Feel free to order the poster-sized infographic to hang in your office and teach others about Twitter, or download the image map for your blog. Via Flowtown.

Map by Brian Solis and JESS3 / A visual depiction of the Twitter ecosystem, the Twitterverse, to help you learn more about all the tools available. Click the image for the interactive version.

Monday, 9 May 2011

NCL Bern - Centres

The Capital of Switzerland is with a population of 131,000, the fourth most populous city in Switzerland. The wider area covered by the standard NCL 30km radius here is covering quite a lot of other centres, from Solothurn to Thun and from Murten to Langnau. As a sort of central landscape feature to it features the river Aare, exiting the Lake Thun, featuring in Bern, Lake Bienne and Solothurn.

New City Landscape Bern
Map by urbanTick for NCL / Basel New City Landscape map generated from location based tweets collected over the period of one week. The area covered is within a 30 km radius of Basel.

The activity peak in Bern is at the Bollwerk a part of the old fortification of the city. It is just next to the central train station. With its central location a very good transport connections, it is popular with offices and commercial uses. Another peak is in Buemplitz to the West of Bern. This is very much the suburbs of Bern, but very pretty suburbs with a touch of country life.

Bern New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Bern 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 maps were created using our CASA Tweet-O-Meter, in association with DigitalUrban and coded by Steven Gray, this New City Landscape represents location based twitter activity.

Bern is very much an after work, evening twitter user city. There is very little activity during the morning or even midday. Things only start happening later on. In terms of languages use, German is leading the tabel just before Indonesian and English. The other languages trail far behind the top three. Just about into the top ten slipped Esperanto as the user language.

Image by urbanTick for NCL / The rose shows the twitter activity over the tweet activity per hour of the day, starting at 00:00 at the top. Here we are showing Bern local time. Hence the characteristic dip between three and five o'clock in the morning. Bern is an after work evening city with more activity around the end of the work day. The graphs show the platform of preference used to send the tweet and the language set respectively.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Concrete Geometries - The Relational in Architecture

At the AA School in London a new exhibition is opening on the 7 Mai, with a focus on 'Spatial Form in Social and Aesthetic Processes'. The exhibition follows an earlier symposium held in OCtober 2010 also at the AA School, with a very extensive list of speakers and topics like Social Contracts, Relational Space, Sensory Engagement and Perception and Cognition. These events are organised by Concrete Geometries, an ongoing interdisciplinary AA research initiative, investigating the social and experiential value of architectural form – its relational potential.

Concrete (adjective): capable of being perceived by the senses; not abstract or imaginary
Geometry (noun): a part of mathematics concerned with questions of size, shape, relative position of figures and with properties of space

Image taken from Kallaway / Dymaxion Sleep - Jane Hutton and Adrian Blackwell, Canada
An installation in the public realm. A structure of nets suspended over a field of aromatic plants
Credit: © Jane Hutton and Adrian Blackwell.

As Marianne Mueller, one of the directors of 'Concrete Geometries' and Diploma Unit Master at the AA School, explains: "‘Concrete Geometries’ is investigating the intimate relationship between spatial form and human processes - be they social or aesthetic - and the variety of new material entities this relationship might provoke. By bringing together art, architecture, sciences and humanities, the cluster aims to provide a platform beyond disciplinary boundaries."

Some of these topics have been brushed on for example in the book 'Installations by Architects' by Princeton Architectural Press. And this exhibition in a very engaging way continues this line of practice of very concrete and to a great extend practical investigation method.

"A corridor, so narrow that strangers brush shoulders; a platform through a densely inhabited house, changing the relationship between inhabitant and visitor; a room reshaped through a graphic pattern; a space under a motorway, sloped in a way that it is rendered useless for those who need it most."

Voussoir Cloud
Image taken from Compute Schottland / Voussoir Cloud - Iwamoto Scott Architecture, USA. A site-specific installation consisting of a system of vaults, exploring the structural pardigm of pure compression coupled with an ultra-light material system. Credit: © Iwamoto Scott Architecture

With works by BAR Architekten, Barkow Leibinger, Adrian Blackwell + Jane Hutton, Brandlhuber + ERA Emde Schneider, Fran Cottell, Anthony Coleman, Easton+Combs, Lukas Einsele, Bettina Gerhold, Jaime Gili, Susanne Hofmann/Baupiloten, IwamotoScott, Graziela Kunsch & Rafi Segal, Christine Rusche, Kai Schiemenz, SMAQ, SPAN Architecture & Design, Atelier Tekuto, Studio Elmo Vermijs and Vincent Wittenberg. Words by Matthias Ballestrem, Kathrin Böhm/public works, Isabelle Doucet and Toni Kotnik,
The exhibition has been supported by CCW Graduate School, the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Austrian Cultural Forum in London.

Marianne Mueller explains: "The aim of Concrete Geometries, part of the AA School Research Cluster Programmes, is to transform how architects think about the creation of space and how it is used for everyday life. This topic seems quite an obvious thing to be exploring, but it is not a discussion that is being held in architecture today. By involving designers and artists we are able to rethink our practice on the creation of space. Digital design has provided architects with new tools to experiment with the use of space. We need to challenges our current thinking of space and how we as architects create it."

Exhibition on from 7th Mai to 28th Mai 2011, Mon–Fri 10am–7pm, Sat 10am–3pm

Connecting Corridor
Image taken from Compute Schottland / Connecting Corridor - Elmo Vermijs Studio, Netherlands. An installation connecting two buildings, the chosen form of which causes people to unexpectedly run into one another, Credit: © Elmo Vermijs Studio

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Social Interaction on Time

Getting the tweets out on time, actually at the right time, is very easy since the invention of Timely the on time tweet tool discussed earlier in 'Social Networking on Time'. Now the tool has been refreshed.

Timely allows to schedule a whole list of twitter messages and sends them out at the best time optimizing reader outreach. Based on the past 200 tweets a timeframe for best outreach is calculated and following tweets are sent out at exactly the best time.

The tool developed by the flowtown team just got better, with a major update released today. 'Timely Gets An Activity Stream' with stats that are actually transparent and reliable. It is still the basic number, but there is now a drop down menue showing the actual retweets. Each tweet is listed chronologically just like in the Twitter stream. This streamlines the task of finding out who retweeted and in which context. No need to run a search through Twitter, Timely delivers it straight to the dashboard.

Image by urbanTick taken from Timely / urbanTick on Timely with the update listing function of retweets.

Further, it is possible to take it a step further and replay directly to each retweet. It offers basic function of an @tweet. This means thanks and ad-dons can be sent from the same platform. With this the information delivery and management goes in one and the from the ground up rebuilt Performance service gives every ambitious promoter peace of mind out of the box.

As Jason Keath from socialFresh points out: Timely has been open to the public since February, and already needs to expand the capability of their service to account for increased use. The service currently has over 15,000 total accounts and continues to grow.

Image by urbanTick taken from Timely / Timely now allows to directly replay to Twitter users who retweeted timed tweets served through Timely.

Time Collapses

Time lapse video, as the title suggests, is much more dramatic as a time collapse. But its not far off and the notion of time folding into, or between the frames could be quite an interesting term. All of them imply the dropping of steps or frames, quite beautifully.

Video shot and directed by by Jean Grimard Gauthereau on Vimeo. He actually also composed the music to with the clip. It is great and creates a beautiful ambient to go with the flow of the scenery. He has some more very lovely clips on his vimeo page, for example the 'Like a Dream'.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Book - Urban Tomographies

What has the study of urban phenomenons in common with medical examination? Both could be described as studying a 'body' and trying to find explanations of it's 'functions' in the wider context of 'elements'. This is in both areas a rather practical and realists view with a dramatic functionalists angle.

The rational definition of the city as a body, as for example discussed HERE, has its fascination and many famous urbanists are or have linked to this visualisation. It does convey a certain familiarity in its illustration. However it is far from an abstraction and thus is not very helpful. It only shifts the problem in question from one complex into the other one.

CT Brain Scan
Image taken from Wikipedia / Computed tomography of human brain, from base of the skull to top. Taken with intravenous contrast medium.

However, since both fields are struggling with their respective complexity it could be an option to transfer techniques for examination. This is what Martin Krieger proposes in his new book 'Urban Tomographies' published by University of Pennsylvania Press 2011. Krieger proposes to transfer the techniques of exploring phenomenons through a large number of examples as for example used in CT scans, a technique where organs or other 'elements' are envisioned through numerous individual slice images. It is used to generate a three-dimensional image of the inside of an object from a large series of two-dimensional X-ray images taken around a single axis of rotation.

Basically many small frames are used to piece together the larger whole. This is useful since organs can be visualised and examined without actually having to open. These sort of scans are often used in parts of the human body like the brain where surgery is extremely difficult.

Transferring this technique, with all the necessary alterations, to the field of urban analysis is an intriguing proposal. Especially in the context of the current hype of massive data sets and large scale collections, the term tomography seems an appropriate umbrella. It already has its coining which is relatively balanced. However literally translated it would be closer to something like a laydar scan or mesh model used for 3d representation of urban environments such as in the lates OVI Map 3D.

Krieger's interpretation or migration however, is going further and proposed a more applied and somehow qualitative rooted interpretation of the concept. Many little documentations of the topic to investigate will together represent the larger whole not only physical but also socially and culturally. He explains: "Urban tomography, with its dense and multiple perspectives in space and time and type, allows for exploratory analysis of the world in front of us. ... Multiple perspectives viewed in parallel, and re-viewed, allow for seeing it all, again and again, so that you begin to figure out what it is you are seeing: flows, phenomena, types - not individuals."

Urban Tomographies Cover
Image taken from Urban Tomographies / Urban Tomographies store front

In his investigations Krieger focuses on Los angeles and includes photography as his main method or study. Besides this he also integrates sounds and the recording thereof into his investigations.

The book begins by introducing tomographic methods and the principles behind them, which are taken from phenomenological philosophy. It draws from the examples of Lee Friedlander and Walker Evans, as well as Denis Diderot, Charles Marville, and Eugène Atget, who documented the many facets of Paris life in three crucial periods. Rather than focus on singular, extraordinary figures and events as do most documentarians, Krieger looks instead at the typical, presenting multiple specific images that call attention to people and activities usually rendered invisible by commonality. He took tens of thousands of photographs of industrial sites, markets, electrical distributing stations, and storefront churches throughout Los Angeles. He also recorded the city's ambient sounds, from the calls of a tamale vendor to the buzz of a workshop saw. Krieger considers these samples from the urban sensorium in this innovative volume, resulting in a thoughtful illumination of the interplay of people with and within the built environment. With numerous maps and photographs, as well as Krieger's unique insights, Urban Tomographies provides an unusually representative and rounded view of the city.

Urban Tomographies Cover
Image taken from Urban Tomographies / Book cover.

Krieger, M.H., 2011. Urban Tomographies, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Monday, 2 May 2011

NCL Basel - Clusters

Basel, the city at the 'Rheinknie', marks the northern gateway to Switzerland. The 'Dreiländereck' (three country corner) is an important fix point in the port of Basel, where the borderlines of France, Germany and Switzerland touch. The resulting 'trinational' region with Basel as the largest hub has established its own culture and functions across borders both culturally and economically.

Basel is the largest city in this area with Mulhouse and St. Louis being the French and the German main city respectively. Basel offers a lot of work places for about 100'000 cross border commuters. A connecting feature throughout the region is the river Rhine. It marks the North-Eastern border of Switzerland coming from the 'Bodensee'. In Basel this important landscape bends North, leaving Switzerland and continues to mark the boarder between France and Germany.

Right at this bend is where the Basel hub is located and obviously the river has historically been a very important source of identity and still continues to be. A lot of activity is happening along the waterline and this is then also reflected in the twitter map. The New City Landscape to some extend reflects the river and it can be read how it trails from the East side into the city and sharply turns North exiting between the French-German 'gate' at the Northern end of the NCL map.

Basel New City Landscape
Map by urbanTick for NCL / Basel New City Landscape map generated from location based tweets collected over the period of one week. The area covered is within a 30 km radius of Basel.

With a population of 166'173 residence it is in the international context a very small centre. Economically it is however rather important as a banking hub and is the home to very large international pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis and Roche. Nevertheless, the countryside around the city is completely missing from the NCL map. There are very little activity on twitter. The distinction between city and countryside in Switzerland is no loger very dramatic, since most of the rural landscape is urbanised to a high degree. The covered area of the NCL map must be the home to about 800'000 the twitter activity clusters on the city of Basel.

Basel New City Landscape
Image by Wladyslaw taken from Wikimedia / "Panorama Basel vom Martinsturm des Basler Münsters aus" (Panoramic view from one of the towers of the Basel Münster, with the Rhine bend and the Messeturm in the focus.

The highest point is the 'Münsterstock' probably the very most central location of the city, a hill overlooking the river Rhine right at the bend with the Basle Münster, a very attractive Church. From this central location the twitter activity trails out along the main infrastructure axis, Rhine, public transport along tram no 10, no 11 and no 6 as well as along the Motorway A2 and A3.

Basel New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Basel 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 maps were created using our CASA Tweet-O-Meter, in association with DigitalUrban and coded by Steven Gray, this New City Landscape represents location based twitter activity.

In terms of time of day twitter is active, Basel has strong morning and evening peaks. Also lunch is a time for tweetig as most people leave the work place for a lunch brake. The evening peak is very consistent between eight and ten, but then drops of rather quickly and stays very ow until it picks up the next morning around seven, the start of the next working day.

The language top three is Germa, English and French. Where English dominated the top ten in Zuerich, has Basel, with its proximity to Germany a very different position. However rank two reflects the importance of the international ties.

Basel NCL timeRose
Image by urbanTick for NCL / The rose shows the twitter activity over the tweet activity per hour of the day, starting at 00:00 at the top. Here we are showing Basel local time. Hence the characteristic dip between three and five o'clock in the morning. Basel is a morning and afternoon city with more activity around start and end of the work day. The graphs show the platform of preference used to send the tweet and the language set respectively.