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December 2009 Monthly archive

Memory has a lot to do with repetition. It is a lot easier to remember something if it is a repetitive element that fits whit in a chain of elements. The memory then can be constructed from bits of information along the chain, but without knowing all the exact detail of one element. This applies to actions that become routines because they have been repeated a great number of times in a relative short period of time but this also applies to larger or over a longer period of time stretching events. E.g. memorials or remembering days.
Longer time periods are very difficult for the human brain to structure. We quickly loose orientation and mix up events. Sequencing is here very helpful. To have a string type of aid to line up the events can keep the orientation. This is where the concept of the calendar comes in as a narrating tool to structure events in the past but also in the future. It provides the framework to organise on the basis of time.
However, there are other sources that can be used to aid orientation. For example photographs can be used as memory triggers. A photograph is much more than simply a flat image. Multiple layers are attached to it, including spatial, social and also temporal aspects. This is obviously related to events of the past, but the human brain is able to use these experiences to also project possible events in the future. For example a photograph of last years Christmas Party, triggers memories of this years party and raises expectations for next years big Christmas bash. This conception raises the question to what extend memory is linear and it could be argued, that remembering is not linear at all, but mainly a construction, usually along similar characteristics.
Nevertheless the overarching, accurate calendar system has completely penetrated our everyday life. Everything lines up with this framework and to a large extend our pocket diary is the only point of reference regarding temporal aspects of life. Of course nowadays it is most likely no longer a physical, paper version but rather some sort of software piece on one or all the gadgets in your bag. For a long time these softwares have simply imitated the paper version and only recently they start to develop individual characteristics and possibilities. Take for example dipity.com where events and objects are represented on a horizontal timeline. It will integrate with a lot of different media. not only does it contain text based notes with an assigned time but video, image, links and so on. You can even link a large variety of other sources of activity to it. This can be twitter, facebook, youtube, vimeo, flicker or any RSS source. This is pretty cool and I obviously fell in love with it immediately. Similar service offer friendFeed, daytum or plurk.com.
But it doesn’t stop here. Location is very 2009 and everything has to be tagged with at least a location. dipity is actually quite cleaver and tries automatically to identify the location of events and gets it pretty precise. Regarding location based memory you get a number of additional services such as brightkite but also twitter for example does include latLong now.
There is a large palette of accessible apps for everyone to store memories live and build up a pile of bites referring to your life.

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Image by urbanTick – screenshot dipity

The University of Leeds runs a large scale project to collect memories and store them and make the accessible to researchers. The project is run by the School of Sociology and Social Policy under the title TimeScapes. It runs in connection with the BBC where you can find a dedicated page. Leeds runs a series of workshops and conferences on the topic. It seems that the main challenge is not to actually find the memory, rep. the participants to share the memory, but to store it. It requires a multimedia database and this is tricky and becomes even more difficult if it is opened to eternal researchers for data processing.
On the BBC website the memories are strictly presented along an overarching time axis. This seems very rigid and for a start excludes any of the non linear narratives between narratives discussed in the beginning.

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Image by UrbanTick – screenshot MemoryShare

However, the obvious problem is how to combine multiple individuals’ memory in a nonlinear fashion. One way is the traditional concept of the calendar as discussed above and as the BBC uses it for the timeScape. Another option could be the locative data, this also provides a shared point of reference. A really interesting project here is the cityOfMemory.org, a web based memory project covering the New York area. Here the numerous memories are linked through the use of the map.

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Image by urbanTick – screenshot cityofmemory

>Aldo Rossi “the museum of pain” in “What is to be done with the old cities?“ in Architectural Design no 55, 1989, p 19

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Driving around Paris from you comfy chair is obviously possible nowadays using Google Street View. You can zoom along the road.
Video by coprod.fr, music Phoenix – Liztomania

Google Street View challenge /2009 from CorentinZ on Vimeo.

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Google has put online a set of maps containing local knowledge. Basically it represents pieces of local peoples mental map by locating their favourite spots and share it with the world. They can be accessed at Google Favorite Places.
Vancouver is the first Canadian city to go online and ten local experts share their most important places as the Google Blog reports.
Bif Naked (map) – rock singer-songwriter, breast-cancer survivor, Gordon Campbell (map) – Premier of British Columbia, Kit Pearson (map) – children’s book writer, Governor General’s Award winner, Monte Clark (map) – owner of Monte Clark Gallery, Rebecca Bollwitt (map) – Vancouver’s Best Blogger & Top Twitter User for Miss604.com, Rob Feenie (map) – Food Concept Architect for Cactus Restaurants, Iron Chef champion, Ross Rebagliati (map) – Olympic Gold Medallist, snowboarding, Simon Whitfield (map) – Olympic Gold & Silver Medallist, David Eaves – public policy entrepreneur, open government specialist (map), triathlon (list taken from eaves.ca)
But you also get other famous peoples favourite locations, as for example Al Gore’s spots or Tony Hawk’s most liked places. All in all this could start building up a personal world view through favourite spots. However at the same time it also points out the limitation of the Google Maps interface and especially the graphics. THe way locations get tagged and how information is embedded really is not intuitive.


View Ross Rebagliati’s Favorite Places in a larger map

Found through wiseristhepath

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Tracking movement of individuals in the urban environment is one of the elements of the UrbanDiary project run by urbanTick. However we re here interested in any sort of tracking and this ranges from tracking animals to climate change and planets. For the UD project GPS technology is used and this works fine. However it would not work indoors and as one of the first participants quickly pointed out, we actually spend quite a lot of time indoors. Take a normal working day and your likely to spend a bout three hours commuting an the rest your indoors, office, shop, restaurant or church.
At the same time however, you’re not likely to move very far inside. From the desk to the coffee machine or the printer and maybe from one floor to another. Nevertheless it can be quite a lot of movement over the day, depending on the job and the task.
So indoor tracking might be of some interest. And it actually exists as a commercial branch. It is of special interest to commercial and retail operators, like shopping malls for example. We featured a product HERE, that was based on mobile phone signals.
However the company timeDomain offers a range of products offering a similar tracking service. TD provides tag based tracking products, but also tracking without tags. This tag-less product is demonstrated in a video HERE and it seems to work stunningly well, even with a number of subjects in the same perimeter. Tag based products can be used in a number of settings and are mainly promoted for retail. Here trolleys or even individual goods, such as cloths can be tagged. Flash demo HERE, and a video demo HERE.

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Image by timeDomain – illustrating usage of the Plus

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POPFest needs you, POPFest needs your paper! This years POPFest has now put out a call for papers. Already the new website is worth a visit and you will get the paper details details HERE as well as submission guidelines HERE.
POPFest, in case you haven’t heard of it before, is the annual Population Studies Conference for postgraduate students. It says on the website: “It is open to postgraduates from all disciplines studying any aspect of population and demography and provides a supportive and stimulating environment for students to meet, present their work and exchange ideas.”
The conference is organised by postgraduates for postgraduates and this year it will be hosted by the University of St. Andrews together with the University of Dundee. It will be over three days from 28th to the 30th of June 2010.
I did attend this years POPFest at LSE in London and presented the paper ‘The Spatial Extension of Everydaylife’. It is a great experience for me and a very supportive context. Oral presentations will be 15 minutes long with 5 minutes for questions. There is usually also a session with posters.
However important here; #POPFest now also is on twitter! The only way to get them to actually twit is by subscribing numerous, click @HERE.

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Image by POPFest – sorry no better graphic available…. I’ll ask Tom – Toooooooommmm where is the nice graphic?

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If live would be as smooth as this clip is in design terms coherent, would it still be fun. Nevertheless this is great stuff.

Freeband – The Ambient Life from The QBF on Vimeo.

Found through Digitale Schweinshaxe

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Space and the creation of, has occupied lately a lot of space on the blog. For the approaching weekend a fascinating clip that throws up an extended question ‘the origin of mass’ after the Higgs Boson particle which is expected to provide a scientific foundation for the origin of mass in the universe. For it find this clip really suitable. For not to say I love it.
Aleksandar Rodic created the clip for his animation class at Savannah College of Art and Design.

The Origin of Mass from Aleksandar Rodic on Vimeo.

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The rise of location information brought us knowledge of where we are ad beyond. Today you’re not only told were you are but also what is around you, how it looks like, how far it is and in which direction. Almost assuming that you are not actually there. This is usually also the selling point. If you can’t find it for example or your still too far away this will give you guidance. However it also demands in-depth engagement of the end user. This is probably the point where all these services have trouble penetrating the everyday.
However, it is still fascinating and if you are into mapping and interested in what happens around you sooner or later aspects of time will start bothering you. Most of the apps feeding your ‘location awareness’ are actually static. They relate to one point in time or assume a permanence.
This is now being addressed with a number of emerging apps, including augmented reality like layar. But also in the area of the actual map information there is a rising wealth of information regarding past location information as in the form of old aerial photos or historic maps. Google has introduced the timeline feature in Google Earth earlier this year with the version 5.0, where you have the ability to access old aerial photos used since the launch of the Google Earth service in 2005. Now it has also swapped to the mobile market and apps for the iPhone are available. On this blog earlier featured the great app Historic Earth which has a huge database of old digital maps from the mother company Historic Map Works. Now the Edinburgh College of Art has developed a new web based mapping service called ‘Walking Through Time’ that is also available for mobile gadgets, such as the android and the iPhone. It looks really promising, with the developers saying: “…our user group is interested in walking through real space whilst following a map from 200 years ago (for example) and being able to tag and attach links to the map that offer historical and contextual information”. Tagging and linking? that is something we are interested, sounds great!
See teaser below.

found via digitalUrban

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The UrbanDiary working paper has just been published on the CASA publication page. It is a write up of the GPS tracking study undertaken during 2009 with twenty participants. Each one was tracked for a period of two month. The paper outlines the methodology the concepts, such as mental maps and also examines technical aspects of GPS. A main focus is on the aspect of visualisation of this kind of temporal data.
Thanks for supporting this project go to Garmin for supplying the Forerunner 405’s and especially all the participants of the study.
Details on urbanTick can be found on this blog/urbanDiary or on the UrbanDiary facebook page – become a fan!
Now to the content of the paper, abstract: “This working paper investigates aspects of time in an urban environment, specifically the cycles and routines of everyday life in the city. As part of the UrbanDiary project (urbantick.blogspot.com), we explore a preliminary study to trace citizen’s spatial habits in individual movement utilising GPS devices with the aim of capturing the beat and rhythm of the city. The data collected includes time and location, to visualise individual activity, along with a series of personal statements on how individuals “use” and experience the city. In this paper, the intent is to explore the context of the UrbanDiary project as well as examine the methodology and technical aspects of tracking with a focus on the comparison of different visualisation techniques. We conclude with a visualisation of the collected data, specifically where the aspect of time is developed and explored so that we might outline a new approach to visualising the city in the sense of a collective, constantly renewed space. “
The actual paper can be downloaded from HERE and detailed information are on the CASA publication page.

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Image by CASA – working paper 151 cover (part)

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While living in the era of knowledge the visualisation of content has become ever so important. At least this is what current trends suggest. At the same time incredible and powerful tools are available to do so and synthesis new knowledge as a result. The spiral is turning fast especially in the field of digital or web based knowledge. However there are a few people out there that produces very high quality syntheses with intriguing visualisations. One of my favorit is BLPRNT.
Only recently BLPRNT has put online the visual comparison between two speeches by President Obama on the same topic. One speech was given in July 2009 in Cairo and the second one in Tokyo, during Obama’s far east trip in November 2009. It is all produced using processing 1.0 an open source tool. The project featured in an article on cluster.
It works on the basis of word comparison. The word in the centre is shared by both texts, the size of each word shows how often it is used and text snippets show the context of words or word groups.

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Image by BLPRNT taken from cluster, more can be found on BLPRNT’s flickr page.

BLPRNT has earlier developed the tool to compare two texts on a different subject. For this project a clip demonstrate how the software works.

Two Sides of the Same Story: Laskas & Gladwell on CTE & the NFL from blprnt on Vimeo.

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