Thursday, 1 September 2011

RGS Annual Conference 2011



The Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference 2011 is under way this week in London. It opened yesterday under the topic The Geographical Imagination and is chaired by Stephen Daniels, University of Nottingham.
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As every year it is going to be a very big event with a lot of paralel sessions. I will be presenting some aspects of the twitter New City Landscape research. The presentation is part of the session organised by Ladan Cockshut of Durham University under the title "Getting lost on the way to Farmville". Virtual, mobile and online spaces of interaction: Exploring the emerging geography and culture of new media technologies. The session starts at 09h00 and is located in the Skempton Building in Room 163 on the Imperial College campus.

The session has four presentations discussing the aspects of emerging social networking geographies. Two of the papers are based on gaming culture and the aspects of locality. One is presented by Kenneth Lim discussing Second Life and especially the SS Galaxy, a cruse ship. Lim's interest for this part of Second Life stems from the view that a cruse ship is a self contained space providing all the essentials for living whilst on the move. There are of course very interesting connections to be drawn to the 1920 with Le Corbusier for example. He viewed the ocean liner at the ultimate city and admired its independence.



THe second gaming paper will be presented by Ladan Cockshut on Spatial and Interactive Dynamics in World of Warcraft. The third paper is by Amil Mohanan from UCL on the net neutrality debate discussing priotised datatransfer in the network by OFCOM and the possible emergence of a two-tiered market.

My paper is going o be the fourth contribution under the title New City Landscape - Mapping urban online spaces of interaction. The data for this paper is derived from the Twitter service, where users can send information as 140 character message. The platform allows to maintain a pool of followers (friends) with whom one shares the tweets (messages). Technically it is possible to collect every tweet sent via the open API (application programming interface) gaining access to millions of location based messages. From the collected data a new landscape based on density is generated. The features of this landscape of digital activity correspond directly with the physical location of their origin but at the same time represent with hills the peaks of locations from where a lot of messages are sent. The flanks and valleys stand for areas with lesser activity and vast plains and deserts of no tweets stretch across the townscapes. These New City Landscape maps (NCL) don't represent any physical features, but the interaction with physical features on a temporal basis. The digital realm has become as much part of the urban environment as the physical features and with these tweetography maps they are made visible for the first time.

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