Monday, 26 September 2011

Book - The Story of Architecture


Prestel has launched a new short series on the history of architecture focusing on a range of architecture styles. So far published are Romanesque Architecture, Renaissance Architecture, Gothic Architecture as well as Contemporary Architecture.

The aim of the series is to introduce architecture and specifically architecture styles throughout the ages. Each volume is dedicated to a specific topic and discusses it in detail making great use of carefully selected photographs, drawings and sketches to illustrate and extend on the accessibly written text.

Torre Velasca, Milan
Image taken from skycrapercity / Torre Velasca, Milan, Italy. built between 1956-58, hight 106 meters. Features in the booklet on The Story of Contemporary Architecture.

The text is key here and especially because each booklet is a short introduction, with about 140 odd pages, room is limited for flowering descriptions. The authors have managed to bring out the important points, anchoring each of them in the wider context.

Of course the series is not presenting any new material and history has been discusse before, but the nicely styles and well written booklets are a good way of getting into or even refresh on the different strands of architecture over the past, leading up to contemporary architectural discussion.

Saint-Malo
Image taken from skycrapercity / City of Saint-Malo built 12th-18th century in France. Features in the booklet on The Story of Gothic Architecture.

The series is mentioning aspects of technology, material and concepts as far at it is relevant to the development of the movement and the style. This also includes references to cultural movements and developments. Overall it provides a quite comprehensive picture.

Each booklet is structured with an introduction, providing the wider context and the lead in. this is followed by a discussion of the main characteristics of the style at hand. The third part is a presentation of examples featuring very prominent ambassador buildings representing each style.

Prestel the Story of ArchitecturePrestel the Story of Architecture
Prestel the Story of ArchitecturePrestel the Story of Architecture
Image taken from boomerangbooks / Architecture history series books covers.


Favole, P., 2011. The Story of Contemporary Architecture, London: Prestel.
Prina, F., 2011a. The Story of Gothic Architecture, London: Prestel.
Prina, F., 2011b. The Story of Romanesque Architecture, London: Prestel.
Servida, S., 2011. The Story of Renaissance Architecture, London: Prestel.
Zanlungo, C., 2011. The Story of Baroque Architecture, London: Prestel.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Digital Media - Alphaville Festival


This weekend from today the Alphaville Festival is under way providing a platform for digital media and art to be shown, discussed and explored across different venues in East London.

It is the third year for this growing digital-media platform and this years theme is “Zeitgeist, from digital to post-digital. This is very much picking up on how Negroponte put it already back in 1998 in WIRED "The digital revolution is over".

Alphaville 2011 Cell
Image taken from Alphaville / 'Cell', concept by James Alliban and Keiichi Matsuda (2011)

The 2011 edition provides an online and live platform to explore, test and disseminate new deas, emerging trends, collaborations and groundbreaking works. Running from 22-25 September the programme presents social media and interactive art, open labs, meet-ups, talks, workshops and screenings alongside with live music, visual performances and parties. Taking place longside the London Design Festival, the 2011 edition enables a network of satellite events spreading across different London boroughs and links with other European cities such as Madrid (Twin Gallery) and Brussels & The Hague (Todays Art). Selected venues include Netil House, Rich Mix, Space Studios, Vortex Jazz Club, XOYO, Hearn Street Warehouse and Whitechapel Gallery. The festival programme also connects east and west London thorough a link with the V&A Digital Design Weekend.

Alphaville 2011 Bitquid
Image taken from Alphaville / Bitquid by Jeroen Holthuis (Photo by Ansis Starks)

The festival will have gathering artists, creative coders, new media technologists, designers, architects, professionals,
musicians, researchers and academics, some of the key names are: Tom Uglow (Google Creative
Labs), Marius Watz, Filip Visnjic (Creative Applications), Man Bartlett, Daito Manabe, Moritz
Stefaner, Keiichi Matsuda, James Alliban, Pantha Du Prince, Matthew Dear, Jon Hopkins,
Jacaszek and Kangding Ray.



There is a range of events including performances, talks and exhibitions. On Saturday 13h00 I will be giving a talk t the Innovation Space in Netil House. Networked Cities I will be discussing some of the Twitter visualisation we have created for the NCL project. This wil mainly focus on Ljubljana, Den Haag and Brussels in terms of activity, network and spatial diversity.



A map to find the different venues can be found below. Tickts can be bougt at the venues or online HERE. To get a previe HERE is and interview with PANTHA DU PRINCE who will be playing at the festival or a sound mix teaser below.

Alpha-ville Festival 2011 Mix by Alpha-ville


View Larger Map

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Book Swap - Story Networking


Books still carry an aura of mistic knowledge only accessible to whom dares to move beyond the cover and through the sea of pages with waves of sentences down to the discovery of words.
There is only little the outsider can understand from a distance, it remains a mystery.

The best way to share the reading experience is by swapping and passing on books. It is more than a gift if a read book is shared it is a way of sharing the experience of the story and getting to know what someone else already knows.

Garrards_road_streatham_london
Image taken from the Guardian Book Swap Flickr Group Pool / Garrards_road_streatham_london

Over the last weekend the Guardian and the Observer started a book swap project to share exactly these experiences. Book readers are asked to set out books into the wild, leaving it for someone else to pick up and read. The guardian has set up a Flickr group to document the locations and the books contributed. As an identification the news paper gave a way stickers to mark the books, making them identifiable. It also carries some basic information and instructions to promote the project. If you missed the paper with the sticker that was part of the issue over the last weekend you can download the sticker HERE.

It is not a l scale project. The headline reads Guardian launches national Book Swap with 15,000-volume giveaway. they are making a good initial effort to push the experiment to the edge of self sustaining, hopefully. This is the tricky part, with social media and crowd sourced projects it is never clear how much is beard and what exactly is needed to hook the critical mass. The setting however, looks promising with Twitter tied in via the tag #guardianbookswap.

dogandfox_wimbledon
Image taken from the Guardian Book Swap Flickr Group Pool / Dog and Fox.

Using social media with the integration of Flickr and Flickr map to visualising location, let's the project tap into a vast resource and existing networking channels. The sticker also carries a QR tag making directly linking the physical object to virtual content.

TheGuardian sets out a few basic rules accompanying the projects. Key especially in the London context is the security issue in point number 5.

1. You can leave as many books as you like, just make sure they are your own
2. Make sure your book is clean and in good condition
3. Don't leave inappropriate material where it can be found by children
4. Avoid places your book could be damaged by the weather
5. Make sure it won't be seen as a security risk
6. Don't leave it in book shops or libraries
7. Don't put yourself or the finder of the book at any risk

Roald Dahl's Biography, part of the Guardian Book Swap
Image taken from the Guardian Book Swap Flickr Group Pool / Roald Dahl's Biography.

This project is interesting in a number of ways especially also in terms of the timing. There is currently a heather discussion ongoing with a strong focus on London mainly furled by the Evening Standard as to how literacy of the young generation can be improved. Apparently the Evening Standard has identified a alarming low literacy amongst young people in the UK, especially in London and is now spearheading an initiative to poor in money to improve literacy in general. The can be and. Already have been of conures accused of making a lot of publicity and marketing with these initiatives (There was an earlier one this year from the Evening Standard focusing on poverty) and probably this is the case. More interesting is the way it is done and what it means for literacy and reading in general. Is it worth setting up initiatives that actually work in parallel to the education system, placing the efforts to increase literacy in competition?

The Guardian initiative is not to be seen in this corporate efforts of a literacy discussion. It is set as a program celebrating the joy of reading and sharing the texts. And it ties in with the ongoing push towards location based sharing, socialising and networking. The project celebrates the book as a medium, an analogue medium, that can, and has over centuries already enabled this sort of networking. The key here is that the focus is on the experience of reading and the social aspect of reading. To archive this the spatial dimension of reading is here the medium and highlight the public space as a shared space beyond traffic. It can also be a public space of imagination, discussion and statements.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Book - Insular Insight


In many ways cities are developing a pressurised and highly specialised environment in large areas driven by competition. It is buzzing environment defined by constant change at fast pace where everyone who slows down risks to drop through the loopholes in the system.

For this is an extreme and very narrow view of urbanised places it describes an image cities have fostered for years in order to compete and grow at such a rate they don't recognise themselves. It os attractive and offeres opportunities, however only really works as a concept if there is an opposite pole it can be balanced with.

ccccc
Image taken from aureon / Book spread, view of the islands.

The countryside is fading away in such a role as balancing pole due to many and complex interwoven reasons, mainly economical ones. However, the slowness creating a relaxed atmosphere of rural areas is inspiring to a number of projects and visions recently. The villages and the traditions are not forgotten, they still have their power and intensity if we only pause and look, stop and experience.

Insular Insight: Where Art and architecture Conspire with Nature is a Lars Muller Publication, edited by Lars Muller and Akiko Miki in collaboration with Hiroshi Kagayama on a large scale project to develop such a thing as public capitalism or an investment in culture.

The book documents the project developed by Soichiro Fukutake, a Japanese businessman who invested in art and he community on islands in the Seto Inland Sea in Japan, bringing the place, the art and architecture together to shape an spirit and way of life. He believed contemporary art to be the best way to inspire people and transform an area.

ccccc
Image taken from aureon / Book spread, inside the Teshima Art Museum.

In various projects with renown international artists and architects a series of instaations permanent and temporary have been built in the ast on the Setouchi islands of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima in the Seto Inland Sea. Contributing artists and architects include James Turrell, Tatsuao Miyajima, Tadao Ando, Rai Nito, Ryue Nishizawa, SANAA and many more. Many of the works are set as art houses where artists and architects have actually worked together to create permanent locations for installations. Then there are aso larger infrastructural buildings such a port terminals and museums buit as part of the investment.

ccccc
Image taken from aureon / Book spread, artwork 'The Secret of the Sky' van Kan Yasuda.

These infrastructures are essential to the change the efforts have brought about the islands. The project has lead to a dramatic increase of visitors to the islands. In the past twenty years the number of guests has increased from about 20'000 to over 620'000 a year. economically this is a very big change, but definitely this is also a turning point for culture and especially society on the smal islands.

This is of course seemingly pushing in the same direction as any city does with unconditional aspiration for growth and change. However, at the hart of this project lies the desire to conspire with nature and this book is a manifesto for it. It offers more than just a documentation or a catalogue of the realised projects, but is a discussion and presentation with background and contextual details. Renown writers such a Peter Sloterdjik, Nayan Chanda or Eva Blau contribute essays to this discussion the founder Sochiro Fukutake want to be carried out into the word. A manifesto for stillness and slowness.

Insular Insight
Image taken from fontanel / Book cover.


Muller, L. & Miki, A., 2011. Insular Insight: Where Art and Architecture Conspire with Nature, Baden: Lars Muller Publishers.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Möbius - Stop Motion Sculpture


An installation to get some action into the frame is these days usually remotely, inserting some 3d rendered elements in to video footage. However if interaction with the elements should take plae it is getting more complicated and a straight forward option to do it is to go with a stop motion animation. This way it is possible to aso controle the crowd interaction with the animation.

Möbius is a stop motion sculpture by Melbourne on Federation Square. It is built from twenty-one large triangles that were alternated for each shot. MÖBIUS is a sculpture that can be configured into many cyclical patterns and behave as though it is eating itself, whilst sinking into the ground. The result is an optical illusion and a time-lapse of people interacting with the sculpture and moving through Melbourne's landmark location throughout the day.

Möbius Installation by Eness
Image taken from Eness / The production company and volunteers changing the installation for the next frame.

For a quick look behind the scenes and the making off peak HERE. Animated and created by Eness.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Book - Architectural Dimensions at Large


Megeastructures have a fascination of their own, blurring the attention to detail with the impression of now detail at all. Especially in the way such a structure manages to trick the impression of scale is in it self a fascination.

The last century has seen many different styles, but the megastructures had a sort of live of their own fitting in with most of them or none of them. This fascination sort of developed in parallel or through out the styles, mainly in the late sixties and seventies.

Singapore New City Landscape
Image taken from mg-lj / A sketch of
Ville Spatial
project spanning across the horizon .


They are still a big topic. The office producing the most megastructure proposals is definitely BIG, led by Bjarne Ingels. Is basically the practice's solution to anything. However the most beautiful recent megastructure is probably Steven Holl Architects' Beijing project.

The megastruture was especially in after the 1950 a big topic, sort of at the end of the modernist area. Yona Friedman, who is branded one of the fathers of the megastructure, presented his project 'Ville Spatiale' at the last CIAM congress in 1956 in Dubrovnik. The invention of the structure, its conception and purpose was however not at all intended aesthetically as it might be nowadays. Friedman formulates the motivation as "The Ville Spatial is in fact harmony between individual, extreme individual and community".

In a new Actar and AA MUSAC publication edited by Maria Inés Rodriguez with the title Yona Friedman: Architecture with the People, by the People, for the People the architect and artist Yona Friedaman's projects and ideas are republished and critically discussed with contributions by Kenneth Frampton, Manuel Orazi and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Métropol Europe
Image taken from deconcrete / A sketch of Métropol Europe showing the different hubs of Europe and how they form sub areas.

Yona Friedman was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1923 and lives and works in Paris. He studied at the Technical University in Budapest (Budapesti Műszaki és Gazdaságtudományi Egyetem) and in Haifa. His work has spanned areas ranging from architecture, art and animated film to education and writing. He has participated in numerous art biennials including Shanghai, Venice and Documenta 11. His highly visionary ideas have nurtured various generations of architects and urbanists, influencing groups such as Archigram and even Kenzo Tange, who declared as such in 1970 in Osaka.

It is a monograph looking back at the work by this fascinating architect who is actually many other things too, but does in most of his projects refer back to architecture. The publications presents a range of his projects, with a focus on the tree main works he is still continuing. The Métropole Europe, the Ville Spatial and the Museum are the sort of main strands in the book.

Iconostase
Image taken from Yona Fridman Blog / A model at the scale of 1:50 of the Iconostase structure for a outdoor museum.

The contributions discuss the work in context and Hans Ulrich Obrist's interview with Yona Fridman provides a sort of link to the present as wel as probably the future. Thanks to this part of the book, the reader gets a sense of actuality. With its retrospective setting one could easily believe these topics to be a thing of the past, but the interview brings it tot he here and now as something that is still happening.

And yes it is, Friedman is still okring on his projects and he has so many upcoming projects, it's fascinating. He's go his Museums set up in Singapore and Italy, shoed the Iconostase at the Art Basel last year and showed a prototype of the Ville Spatial at the Biennale in Venice last year.

Yona Fridaman
Image taken from amazon / Book cover.


Rodriguez, M.I. ed., 2011. Architecture with the People, by the People, for the People: Yona Friedman, Barcelona: Actar.

Friday, 9 September 2011

New City Landscape - Singapore - one Island


Singapore is an city state with about 5'076'700 inhabitant according to the 2010 census. The society is very technology interested and electronics make a lot of their business.

Digital elements have a strong presence in everyday life, including online social networking. In this sense it is not surprising that Twitter is very popular in Singapore. Also in terms of location sharing, users in Singapore are quite happy to share their location with the tweets. We have about 46% of location based messages. This is only matched by Amsterdam, NL and Lagos, NG. The average over all the locations observed is about 10-12%.

Singapore New City Landscape
Image by urbanTick for NCL / Singapore 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 Singapore.

The virtual landscape redraws nicely the outline of the island state. There are the neighboring areas of Malaysia and Indonesia showing up at the top and the bottom respectively of the map. The connection across the water are also showing with tweets send either from a ferry crossing or from one of the two bridges. Beside these connection the international airport on the far most East corner of the island is probably even more important to connect to the outside. It features prominently in the landscape as a tall peak of high tweet activity.

Singapore New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Singapore 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. Thanks for the naming help to Kai from 3rdlifekaidie.

Overall the virtual landscape beautifully redraws the outline of the island Singapore is on. The main features that immediately stand out in the Singapore NCL map are the areas message are absent. The large Nature Reserve in the centre is the larges area with reduced Twitter activity, but also the live firing area and reserve on the western side of the island. In line with the other observed urban areas, outdoor spaces show lower Twitter activity.

On the other hand the complete south coast of the island is abuzz with activity. Ranging from Changi International Airport in the East all the way past the container ports to the West tot he industrial areas. The main peak is Dhoby Gaut Peak in the area of the major interchange station on the MRT.

Singapore 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 as local time. Singapore is an evening city with a clear activity peak between 21h00 and 23h00. Mornings are very slow and it doesn't really pick up until the late afternoon. The graphs show the platform of preference used to send the tweet and the language set respectively.

The languages represented in the Singapore data set are clearly dominated by English and Indonesian. Those two languages cover about 90% of all messages. Interestingly the other few languages featuring are European rather than Asian. There is Dutch, Norwegian, Italian and Spanish, German and French. Also Esperanto again features, though only with for marginal number of tweets.

The platform is dominated by twitter for iPhone, followed by twitter for Blackberry, the web and tweetDeck. The iPhone seems very popular in Singapore. Also the iPad features on the tenth rank with twitter for iPad.

The temporal structure of Twitter activity is extremely focused on the evening. No other city has such a strong activity preference as Singapore shows. There is a clear peak between 9pm and 11pm. with a extreme drop of after 1am to nearly zero activity between 4am and 5am. This is followed by a sharp start in the morning around 8am. Through out the day this stays about leveled until it starts to rise in the late afternoon after 6pm.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

CRESC Annual Conference 2011 - Framing the City


The CRESC annual conference 2011 ‘Framing the City’ is now taking place from today, 07 September through to Friday 09 September in Manchester at the Royal Northern College of Music. It is organised by Sophie Watson (Chair), Gillian Evans, Elizabeth Silva and Alban Webb.

Key note speakers include: Ian Sinclair, author of London Orbital and London: City of Disappearances; Alistair Bonnett, author of Left in the Past: Radicalism and the Politics of Nostalgia; Maria Kaika author of City of Flows; Roselund Lennart, author of Exploring the City with Bourdieu: Applying Pierre Bourdieu?s theories and methods to study the community; Talja Blokland, author of Urban Bonds and co-editor of Networked Urbanism; Nick Couldry author of Why Voice Matters Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism.

CHloc_locationLanguage01-01
Image by urbanTick for NCLn / Location based social network based on Twitter data collected in central Europe focusing on Switzerland. Colours indicating message language. The main languages are, Italian=blue, English=orange, French=red, German=green.
The bottom line are external nodes for which we have no location information.


I will be presenting today at the conference in a session called 'Change and Moulding' in the afternoon. The paper New City Landscapes and Virtual Urban Social Networks is looking at how physical elements are shaping the virtual world. In detail this is how physical aspects of the location can be found as influencing parameters of the virtual description. Overall this forms an argument as to why and how digital social networking data can be useful for decision making and planning.

Increasingly people use digital or online networks to communicate and interact. This changes the social scape of the urban area and with it the interactive hot spots change and fluctuate throughout the city as individuals follow the narrative path of their everyday routines. People leave messages, distribute news and respond to conversations not only in traditional locations anymore but potentially anywhere in the city.
This paper discusses the emerging potential of social media data used for urban area research and city planning. Also aspects of visualisation as well as privacy and ethical implications are discussed. The information gathered from social media networks usually can be associated with a physical location for example via the GPS of the smart phone. For this virtual social infrastructure mapping project, the data is derived from the Twitter micro blogging service.
The data is mapped as a virtual landscape on top of the real landscape connecting it via the common place names. At the same time the data is used to visualize the social network across these virtual-real places and in this way can make visible the places were people link the virtual and the real world in urban areas around the globe.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Book - Cultural Emergency


Disaster management has become a more widely discussed topic in recent years. It is not necessarily that there are more devastating catastrophe happening, but that it is discussed and reacted upon in a different way. Word wide connections have grown stronger and a sense of globalnes is starting to settle. It is no longer just the isolated thinking about individual states or regions, but more and more a global image is growing.

Emergency situations are then also portrayed differently and in more detailed, but also quicker. The earthquake that struck Japan on 2011-03-11 this year came through he media and especially social networks, almost in real time.

Cultural Emergency
Image by Joel Saget taken from designdaba / Mosque in Banda Aceh, Indonesia just after the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Beside basic humanitarian needs such as drinking water, food and medical supplies there are other aspects that are supporting a community or societies coping with a calamity. Those elements of cultural support like architecture as for example in the case of the 'Marché au Fer' - Iron Market in Port-au-Prince Haiti, or knowledge in the form of a library as in Sarajevo's National Library in 1999 or museum as in the case of the National Museum of Baghdad in 2003 or cultural achievements such as the Olympic site in Greece or the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan are aiming to stabilise society in general and providing suport in the form of identity and culture.

In a new NAi publishers book Cultural Emergency in Conflict and Disaster the discussion around these efforts of delivering cultural emergency respons (CER) is launched. It is presented around the efforts of the Dutch Prince Claus Fund which has supported various regions in their bid to deal with a dramatic implosion of everyday life due to a striking disaster.

Cultural Emergency
Image taken from designdaba / Iraqui National Deputy Director Muhi Hasan holds his head in his hands as he sits on destroyed artefacts on 13 April 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. The museum was severly looted during the proceding days.

In his foreword H.R.H. Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands addresses the pressing question "Why should we try to save works of art when people are in desperate need for shelter, food and medicin? Why invest in culture when people may be dying?" He responses with three answers. Cultural heritage provides identity for individuals and society and the support, protection or restauration of it confers value and respect. Furthermore culture can strengthen social resilience, human dignity and a sense of continuity. But he also points out that such cultural emergency response is not delivered independently, but is in conjunction with basic humanitarian needs. He makes it clear that it is not about saving one over the other, but to save both.

Cultural Emergency
Image taken from designdaba / 'All we are wrecking is stone' was the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's description of the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan in March 2001, the largest standing statues of Buddha in the world.

The publication cover both element, a theoretical discussion and reports of practical experience. The Prince Clause Fund has delivered a range of support to locations around the world and across cultures to discuss aspects in detail, but it is essential in this discussion to allow a range of perspectives and experiences to be presented. With this publication such a collection has been brought together and gives a good impression of the debate but also practice.

The response to disaster beyond sending in money is very important and charities in general are putting a lot of emphasis on sustainable support that is long lasting and effective. There has been a lot of effort for example in Haiti to enable rebuilding of housing and architecture practices from around the world have helped, as for example Steven Holl Architects. However it is important that the local structures are respected and local people are integrated and responsible for what is happening and how it is happening to largest extend possible. Emergency respons, especially such cultural support has to happen with the people.

This publication will be launched in the Peace Palace in The Hague on 6 September on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Prince Claus Fund.

Cultural Emergency
Image taken from designdaba / The book is designed by Irma Boom. Book cover has a specially designed scratch surface (just like these luck number tickets).


Klein Goldewijk, B., Frerks, G. & Plas, E.V.D. eds., 2011. Cultural Emergency in Conflict and Disaster, Rotterdam: NAi publishers.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Geofence - New Settings Available for Hiding


Flickr has newly introduced a feature to automatically limit geographical details of photographs based on criteria. The so called geofence is introduced on the Flickr blog and is a defined area within which the location of photographs is not shown. Furthermore, different groups can be assigned to be included and the lover level to be excluded.

Basically users can set up a parameter around their favorite public park and choose only their friends tag as the group family to be able to see the exact location of the picture taken. Since the groups are arranged, similar to Facebook groups, hierarchically, the other groups anyone, contact and friends will not be able to see the location.

flickr_geofence01

The new setting is very good implemented and easy to use. You either search for a location by name or directly on the map. The marker can be draged around to mark the spot and the adjusted in size between 50 to 10000 metter. Interestingly flickr doesn't say whether this is diameter or radius so the feature is basically a visual one. You have to decide according to what feels about right. But it is the radius that is the parameter.

However, it is less the exact distance that is important, rather it is the number of other possibilities. If there is only one house within the fenced area you could still guess that someone must be living there. And on the other hand if a fifty meter radius in a dense street can cover already

flickr_geofence02

Flickr sais to have more than 300 million geotagged photos and videos on its site. the service has also been blamed to be very slow with updating and adjusting its privacy settings in the past, not offering many sharing options. With this new addition it definitely updates these settings in a rather radical and probably industry changing way. Through out the comunity this change has been received very positive, ars technica, wired, mashable

As Wired describes the problem: "It means you can snap a picture of your awesome 42" plasma TV or your kid's fun run day, without worrying about burglars and perverts from examining the photo's geographical metadata and making a beeline for your hometown."

It is very likely that other services will follow and offer similar options. So that in the future users can draw these geofences around their tweets and Facebook messages, hide Foursquare checkins and so on. It is hard to see the point of geo referencing in this scenario, but it seems that this is the tool the user groups currently want to be able to ave in their hands.

flickr_geofence03

To some extend this is understandable because the overwhelming dominance and power the service provider has over the user making it a very difficult relationship to build up some trust. The services like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, can just change their policies and rules or conditions of use at any point without consulting the user base. Furthermore they have such a monopoli of use and information that it does look scary to the individual user.

However, maybe the problem has to be fond and addressed elsewhere than the user end. This feature is mainly enabling the user to limit himself. What the service does really is providing a tool to limit the users options, but it is self inflicted rather than superimposed. With this the provider is distancing it self from the problem. But the user end is suffering the consequences of being excluded from the location sharing benefits. This is, because the service is built on the principle, the more you share the better the service is.

Nevertheless, it is already good to see the option being implemented. Together with he option to assign groups to the exclusion zone some flexibility is there too. In the long term it would however be better to see a shift in the way location information is handed and processed, eliminating the problems associated with knowing where one is. Currently the trend of sharing positions of everything everywhere at anytime is big and is going to be even bigger in the very near future. With it growing and extending to any sort of information the management on the user end wil become impossible and geofencing the Flickr photographs wi be the least of the problems.

flickr_geofence04

It is not about a single location and it is not about an exact location either. It is definitely not about the plasma TV or a photograph of a child. The problem lies in the amount of data and the repetition of information. If there is one picture taken outside a school little can be concluded from it. However if there is a string of photographs over a year between a block and a block down the road where a school is located and the timestamps mach roughly the school-run hours, one can assume that there is a link between the locations.

It is the pattern resulting from activity that is of interest not the actual location.

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.
javascript:void(0)
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.