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March, 2009 Monthly archive

Over generations and time the travel behaviour has changed, especially in term of distance. From looking at travel patterns on a city scale for this bog post we are looking at a global level. It has become normal to travel around the world and any location on this planet is now to be reached in a day or two.
Within only four generations, or one century, the covered land by life time tracks has grown from a regional are to a national to a continental and finally to a global area.
Ways in which travel patterns have changed for the host population over recent generations have been shown in an interesting way by the distinguished epidemiologist, David Bradley6, when he was at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Bradley compared the travel patterns of his great-grandfather, his grandfather, his father and himself (see Figure 2). The life-time travel track of his great-grandfather around a village in Northamptonshire could be contained within a square of only 40 km side. His grandfather’s map was still limited to southern England, but it now ranged as far as London and could be contained within a square of 400 km side. If we compare these maps with those of Bradley’s father (who traveled widely in Europe) and Bradley’s own sphere of travel, which is worldwide, then the enclosing square has to be widened to sides of 4000 km and 40,000 km, respectively. In broad terms, the spatial range of travel has increased 10-fold in each generation so that Bradley’s own range is 1000 times wider than that of his great-grandfather. (British Medical Bulletin 69:87-99 (2004))

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Image taken from British Medical Journal

Bradley’s record of increasing travel over four male generations of the same family6. (A) Great-grandfather. (B) Grandfather. (C) Father. (D) Son. Each map shows in a simplified manner the individual’s ‘life-time tracks’ in a widening spatial context, with the linear scale increasing by a factor of 10 between each generation.

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The life-cycle, a concept to include parts of what this blog is about. There is a limitation to each subject and each activity. In many areas the cycle is something that spans over generations and as such an element of integrations and continuity.
The following clip gives an idea of this life-cycle with a great graphical language:

The Seed from Johnny Kelly on Vimeo.

In a web 2.0 society Google has taken over the world of location and mapping. With its free online map service and Google Earth application, most of the visualizations and animations of the UrbanDiary project are based on these tools. It is not only the context, the information, but also the style and the graphics that are dominated by the Google giant. We are more familiar with the graphical language of the Google Maps than with any local guide and special elements of this language are entering our daily lives. Just as the following clip visualizes:

Map from aram bartholl on Vimeo.

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There are a number of concepts to structure our lives in time. The primary structure is the day and night rhythm with the period of darkness followed by a period of light. This is only a rough guide, as the duration of these periods change over the course of one year according to seasons. Along this structure the average day of 24 hours is constructed. This fixed time span is mainly set for calculation purposes and interferes with natural rhythms quite often, e.g. daylight, tide, … from this day unit the week is extrapolated as a seven day cycle.
The structure of the week is built on work/activity days and days of rest. There has been a strong religious influence on this concept. The day to rest was loaded with religious commitments, but has since, specially in the western culture, faded in importance. The basic weekly structure although remained. Basically the week is divided in two units, the five days of work from Monday to Friday and the weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
In the Christian culture the Sunday, the Lord’s day, is the main day of worship without having to do commercial work. It is the day of rest and socializing with the community. Interestingly, other religions have a different structure. In the Jewish week the day to rest is not the Sunday, it is the Saturday. On Saturdays, the Sabbath, Jews are asked not to do any work, but only save this day for family and community. The Arabic week has the Friday, the day of assembly, as the main day of rest from work. (source wikipedia/sabbath and )
Looking at this simple weekly structure from the UrbanDiary perspective, there must be a an impact on movement dependent on religions. Looking at the three religions Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the London area the different patterns between Friday, Saturday and Sunday could be very interesting to observe closer.

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Jewish, There are over 149,000 Jews in London, over half the Jewish population of Britain. (Illustration Chris Tate, taken from timeout.com)

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Muslim, There are over 603,000 Muslims in London, two-fifths of the UK Muslim population. (Illustration Chris Tate, taken from timeout.com)

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Christian, Over 58 per cent of Londoners say they are Christians (much fewer are practicing).(Illustration Chris Tate, taken from timeout.com)

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Hindu, Over 29,000 Hindus live in London, more than half the Hindu population of Britain. (Illustration Chris Tate, taken from timeout.com)

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Presentation of the PhD work that I have been doing so far. The presentation was given in the context of the CASA Seminar series.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009, Galton Lecture Theatre, 1-19 Torrington Place, 5pm

Fabian Neuhaus, PhD Researcher

Urban Diary – Cycles, rhythms ad pattern in everyday life

This PhD research project focuses on the cycles and rhythms in the urban environment. Like day and night or the rush-hour, there are a number of repetitive patterns occurring in the city. Maybe they are the result of spatial and social organization methods, but probably they are involved in the organization of the city as a system.
With the use of GPS technology I research patterns in peoples every day activities. The main interest is the spatial extension of these routines. Findings are expected to be useful for planning and urban design in particular.

The slides are here:

Of course there where some clips integrated with the slides for the presentation, I just haven’t found the clever way to combine the two for the web presentation. Any good ideas? The clip are somewhere on the blog if you are interested.

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Debord’s psychogeographical map The Naked City (1957) challenged traditional ideas of mapping relating to scale, location, and fixity, and drew on the work of urban social geographer Paul-Henri Chombart de Lauwe’s concept of the city as a conglomeration of distinct quarters, each with its own special function, class divisions, and “physiognomy,” which linked the idea of the urban plan to the body. An important strategy of the pyschogeographical was the dérive, “a technique of transient passage through varied ambiences”.

Image by Guy Debord on Redefining the Basemap

The image of the Naked City has help visualizing the fragmented experience we all have of the urban environment we live in. The mode of transport plays an important role, but so does usage, distance and function.
As an example for the differences in experiencing and linking the city spaces, two participants from the UrbanDiary project have been chosen. It happened to be a couple and the way they “use” the city could not be more different. Within the pattern of everyday activities, the main vehicle to create the structure of the experienced space is the mode of transport. In this case, the female uses the bus to travel to work and has therefore a continuous space between the home location and the work location (top diagram). The male in the example on the other hand uses the tube to travel between home, work and pub. The result is a number of very local island scattered over the city, leaving him with not means to connect them spatially.


Image by UrbanTick for UrbanDiary

The link between the urban plan and the body is not obvious on a daily basis but becomes more apparent over time through the routine. The daily rhythm allows to connect the physical experience with the memory of the activity.

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A refreshed visualization of the space-time diagram, called the aquarium. This time with the all new UrbanDiary project data.
Schematic representation of a Saturday track record of three participants of the UrbanDiary project recorded in London. The data is plotted with the z-axis representing time of the day. The time frame in this case is 24 hours and starts from the bottom  at 00h00 passing the time upwards to 24h00. Each participant has a time reference icon over the home location, where the journey starts and ends. 
There is one female and two male participants, of whom the female and one male participant have family. The single male goes in to work just as normal although it is a Saturday and returns home in the afternoon to do some sport activity locally where he lives. His journey starts at 08h23, ends at 17h19 and travels around 15 km. The woman does some local activities with her family and travels in to her workplace briefly later on. She starts her day at 07h01, ends at 20h09, and covers 30 km wile traveling. The Second male participant spends his day in the local area. This journey starts at 11h45, ends at 18h53, and measures 5 km.

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Image by UrbanTick for UrbanDiary 2009 – click on the image for large version

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The situationists aimed at developing a different method to explore the city. With phrases like “We are bored in the city, there is no longer any Temple of the Sun.” (Gilles Ivan 1953 in International Situationniste no 1) they set out to explore the daily urban environment by “cruising” it. Guy Debord describes the technique of exploring in his “Theory of the derive” like this: “Among the various situationist methods is the derive [literally: ‘drifting’], a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances. The derive entails playful-constructive behavior and awareness of phsychogeographical effects; which completely distinguishes it from the classical notions of the journey and the stroll.” (Guy Debord 1956).

Image from notbored.org

The illustration “The Naked City” was developed with these ideas in mind and represent bits and pieces of a map of Paris hold together by a number of arrows indicating connections. This view of islands within the fabric of the city not only represents random walks but also general daily experience we all make. The places we visit are very often not linked through experienced space, but rather through a spatially disconnected mode of transport, e.g. tube or a busy bus.

A nice clip showing the rhythm of a derive

derive (1x6x4x1) from Ricardo Greene on Vimeo.

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Location of I, is an art project by Martin John Callanah. The artist is tracking himself live daily. On the internet we can follow his moves and see what he is up to and were he is going. The website also has an archive and makes the past two years accessible to retrace the artists movements.
Commercial companies have only recently discovered that this sort of service could be interesting for customers, e.g. Google Latitude or Brightkite.
The artists motivation to work on the Location of I project was basically to be findable in both, the virtual world and the real world. He concludes: “I have become so findable and so contactable: I hide.”
The technology he uses is purpose built software running on windows mobile on a mobile device with included GPS. I am wondering how he manages the gadgets battery life. The iPhone for example would not be capable to track longer than a couple of hours without recharging…

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Image by urbanTick – Screenshot

So let’s try to find out what the artist has done on the start day of the UrbanDiary project, that is 2009-02-05

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Image by urbanTick – Screenshot

And on Saturday the 28th of February, I only hope he was not walking down that road!

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Image by urbanTick – Screenshot

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I have quickly generated a track map coded according to weekdays. It is coded in orange for the weekend tracks and in brownish for the week days.
A comment on analysis of the pattern will follow…
Click on the image to see a higher resolution image.

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Image by urbanTick for UrbanDiary

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Six month into writing this blog it hits the 2500 visitors mark. The last post on this was back in mid January where it hit the 1000 visitors mark and now it is more than double this number. This is very good news.
Again there were some very supportive links to the work on this bog and the work was quoted on a number of other blogs including digitalurban and GISagent, many thanks to them.
The graphs with the stats updates from sitemeter show a surprisingly similar picture. There is almost no change in the visitor’s pattern in terms of hour of the day looking at the total visits per hour. It is again this peak around three in the afternoon and a second one around ten in the evening. The later one could probably be America with the time difference ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ that they also visit around three in the afternoon local time.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
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Image by urbanTick for urbanDiary

The visitors per week day look​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​also similar, the mid week days are popular, with Thursday having the lead, where as the weekend is rather quiet.

The last update on this was followed by an outlook for this project. One point was on collecting tracking data of a number of individuals and the other point was regarding an option to build up an online community to collect much more data to dandify the picture of urban cycles.
The tracking of participants has started as the UrbanDiary project and it is already one month that fourteen individuals collect data of their daily activities. This pre study is going well and the data is very good.
For the second point the UrbanDiary project has now a facebook page!

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It is updated with news from this blog, but mainly with news from the UrbanDiary project and enables participants and people being interested in this topic to share information and experience directly. The page is accessible to facebook member and to non-members so you can bookmark it and following it even if you are not on facebook.

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