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Tag "time"

Animals have featured on this blog mostly in connection to technology in some form and always in regards to movement. Studying these patterns are especially fascinating as they complement snapshot impressions one normally has if just observing the animal occasionally. It is however also a reminder that movement pattern are much less structured and determined than is generally believed. Movement is goal oriented, but in order to maximise performance it is extremely flexible and opportunistic behaviour.

Movement is therefor very expressive, it tells the story of desire and emotion and is the basis of many art forms, foremost dance, eg. this old post on the movement of the body and creation of space.

Image taken from The Guardian / Snails of the gros-gris (fat greys) species saved from the plate.

snail ballet

An upcoming art work has mixed these aspects together and come up with a brilliantly mistifying snail ballet. Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes and Cyril Leclerc have created a dance of the animals supported by live music. It is also a live event that is coming to London’s Kings Place on Fri 20 & Sat 21 April – booking here.

Pixel lent / slow pixel from Cyril Leclerc on Vimeo.

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Its here, the urbanTick book is out, published by Springer. It brings together the edited work from this blog as well as external experts introducing specific topics. Its a big collection of thoughts on temporal aspects of the city, including projects, research and theory.

UTbook04 Cover
Image by Springer / Book cover, Studies in Temporal Urbanism: The urbanTick Experiment.

This book is very much about what the name urbanTick literally says, about the ticking of the urban, the urban as we experience it everyday on the bus, in the park or between buildings. It is about the big orchestrated mass migration of commuters, the seasonal blossoms of the trees along the walkway and the frequency of the stamping rubbish-eater-trucks. It is also, not to forget, about climate, infrastructure, opening hours, term times, parking meters, time tables, growing shadows and moon light. But most of all it is about how all this is experienced by citizens on a daily basis and how they navigate within this complex structure of patterns. The content of this book is based on the content of the urbanTick blog. Blogging about this topic brought together a large collection of different aspects and thoughts. It is not at all a conclusive view, the opposite might be the case, it is an exploratory work in progress, while trying to capture as many facets of the topic as possible.

UTbook05 UTbook01
Image by urbanTick / Book Studies in Temporal Urbanism: The urbanTick Experiment. Some example spreads. Editor Fabian Neuhaus, published by Springer.

The publication Studies in Temporal Urbanism: The urbanTick Experiment is structured in seven chapters with each being introduced by an invited contribution in the form of an essay. The chapters are: Cycle Study as Basis of Adaptive Urbanism (con Jeff Ho); urbanMachine; Memory: Collective vs. Individual Narratives (con Zahra Azizi); timeSpace; Body, Space and Maps (con Sandra Abegglen); bodySpace; Urban Narratives of Time Images, or the Drift of Alienation (con Ana McMillin); urbanNarrative; Mental Maps: The Expression of Memories and Meanings (con Matthew Dance); Location Information; From UrbanTick to UrbanDiary; UrbanDiary; Footprints, a Regeneration Process (con Luis Suárez); Review. This is wrapped up with a Bibliography and a complete Index covering all chapters.

On the back cover Professor Mike Batty introduces the book in his words with:
That cities pulse and resonate like the human body is an old idea which until recently has remained just that. But in this pioneering book, Fabian Neuhaus shows how we can begin to make sense of the myriad of rhythms and processes that make up the city, by combining new technologies available on smart phones with our intuition expressed in mental maps to generate a new understanding of how cities function. This book stands in the vanguard of new work about temporal cycles that define the city and it is mandatory reading for all who profess to understand how cities work and for everyone who wants to discover how we, ourselves, make the city work. Michael Batty, Bartlett Professor of Planning, CASA, University College London

Its great to finally have it available as a printed version. A lot of thanks go to the contributors for the essays, but also to all the people who granted publication rights for the many illustrations in this publication. Of course thanks also go to a number of people who helped in one way or another with input for the blog or support for the publication.

The publication is available as printed version, as e-book or also accessible on the Springer website directly as pdf.

Studies in Temporal Urbanism Cover

Neuhaus, F. ed., 2011. Studies in Temporal Urbanism: The urbanTick Experiment 1st ed., London: Springer.

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The biannual conference of the Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) is this year the 14th National Conference on Planning History being held in Baltimore MD.

The Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) is an interdisciplinary organisation dedicated to promoting scholarship on the planning of cities and metropolitan regions over time, and to bridging the gap between the scholarly study of cities and the practice of urban planning.

Berlin Badeschiff
Image taken from the Baltimore Architecture Foundation / The Inner Harbor, before Charles Center & Harborplace.

I will be presenting a paper on The City in Time and Space drawing on the research work undertaken with the urbanDiary project using GPS-tracking, interviews and mental maps. The paper is part of the session 49 with the overall title Seeing Time: Urban Paces and Building Cycles it will be chaired by Philip J. Ethington, Professor of History at University of Southern California and the initiator of the HyperCities project.

Other presenters in the session are Sandra Parvu, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris on Time Perceptions in Neighborhoods Undergoing Demolition, Francesca Ammon, Yale University on Progress in Progress: The Representation and Experience of Postwar Building Demolition and Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, The New School on Seeing the Human City: A Visual and Value-Rich Urbanism.

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It is autumn, the leaves are falling and the sun stands low on the horizon. A great time with intensive colours, moody weather and the air feels heavier. Its time to wrap up and look back at the rest of a year that has passed. Wh not going back to spring with a similarly low sun and as intense colours but with a fresh and light tone to it.

Spring the time of waking and refreshing is also the time of shows and fairs. Christoph Kalck has created a stunning timeLapse film with the title Rummel, documenting and reinterpreting one of the very large German Spring fairs, the Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest. It is a colourful and bright showcase of a fairground, a maze of stalls and rides, shows and shops for about 1.4 million visitors.

lit location based literature research
Image by Christoph Kalck / One of the movie stills.

Over three days Kalck has portrayed scenes in and around the fairground capturing the rumble and zumble, the moment of surprise, the laughter and excitement. Its the joy and the fun this blinking, moving, sweet and sticky scenery conveys. He stayed on though and keept looking, he arrived early and stayed late and the movie captures it all. The setting up, the pulling of the curtain, the setting sun and the glowing, blinking and bustling lights to the dinging of the action and the moments the lights come allowing for the staff to wrap up, clean and pack. Only for it all to start again the next day.

lit location based literature research
Image by Christoph Kalck / One of the movie stills.

The film is by Christoph Kalck & Marcel Hampel with music and sounddesign by Sebastian Bartmann. Title was designed by Frank Rosenkränzer. The film has a facebook fan page of course.

It’s the persistance and precision of the chosen scenes, the intensity of the setting and the unreal scenery that brings this clip to live and lets memories of all sorts play out on such a bright and cut autumn day. Soon it will be spring again.

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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.

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The Fukushima nuclear disaster that is ongoing in Japan as a result of the devastating earthquake and the massive Tsunami has now been reassessed and the severity leve is now raised from level 5 to level 7, the same as Chernobyl. This means it is not just an accident, but the worst case scenario with massiv impact on environment and people on a long term scale.

Long term in this case is really a different matter. Talking nuclear material is blowing all human timescales with numbers beyond anything comprehensible. As the New York Time has put it in a recent story: “The death of a nuclear reactor has a beginning; the world is watching this unfold now on the coast of Japan. But it doesn’t have an end.”

Fukushima Plant
Image taken from socio-economics history, source www.digitalglobe.com / The Fukushima nuclear power plant after the earthquake and tsunami.

The use of nuclear technology around the world has been for the past 70 years and is ongoingly generating nuclear wast for which no real solution has been found as of yet. The wast is continuing to be active and dangerous even as wast and so far simply the only solution is to store the was safely. The problem is the time scale at which a safe storage will need to be found. It is not for a hundred years, not for a thousand years, not ten thousand years, actually no one really knows how long it would need to be. Some say twenty five thousand, that would be the half live of some of the radioactive materials, but it is likely to be a lot longer, Plutonium-239’s half-life is at 24,000 years. Some of the radioactive materials have a half-life of more than 100’000 years. This means a wast storage solution would need to be safe for this amazingly long period.

This brings planning problems with it that are far beyond anything human kind has been challenged with. One of these problems is a practical one that illustrated the dimensions very nicely. How to make sure the storage is known about and safe for the duration of it being there? How to marke the location in a way that people in ten thousand years still can understan they should not be digging in this area because the nuclear waste is still extremely dangerous? This brings very simple questions with it, for example what language do people speak in ten thousand years, or in fifty thousand years? Or maybe what signs would they understand if we don’t know about the language?

Klenze Akropolis
Image taken from wikipedia, source www.digitalglobe.com / One of the very old site and structures dating very, very far back, the Acropolis in the city of Athens. Here in a painting by Leo von Klenze “Reconstruction of the Acropolis and Areus Pagus in Athens” (1846).

In comparison cities are about 4000-7000 years old. Some of the very old elements of London are for example about 2000 years old. The oldest cities data back to about 7000 years to the times of the very first permanent settlements. Urban structures have evolved and increased in size, but planning is dramatically short termed in this over all context. Some infrastructures are amongst the long standing elements, like the Roman viaducts for water delivery and of course the longest standing elements are the elements relating to traditions, rites and practices. As of which elements the very fundamental concept of permanent settlement actually rests.

Taking this back to the question of how we can possibly manage to maintain the safety for hundreds of generations from the radioactive waste, it becomes clear how far beyond everything we know this goes. Its not that we have a memory as far back as the earliest cities, but at least this we have a conceptual history for the past 7000 years. However, this is about it, this far in the past a lot of things are pretty blurred and unclear. But what we need here for the radioactive mountain of waste is going a lot further into the future than that. So we better have a pretty good solution, it really is a timeframe more appropriate for mythology.

Image taken from wikipedia, source www.digitalglobe.com / Schematic plan of the WIPP facility with a system of underground tunnels.

The United States of America have in recent years made a move towards a more permanent storage solution. plans for a storage facility in the Yucca Mountain has been put on ice, but the nuclear wast is currently delivered to a Waste Isolation Pilot Plant WIPP, located approximately 26 miles (42 km) east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, in eastern Eddy County, for longterm storage. It is mainly for radioactive wast from the production and testing of nuclear weapons. The project planners do claim the site is safe for at least 10’000 years and have received the official confirmation to run it. Even though this is likely to be not long enough it is a hell of a lot of time.

A film documentary by Peter Galison, Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics, and Robb Moss, who teaches filmmaking in the Visual and Environmental Studies department, is soon to be coming out about this project with very fascinating background information about this US storage project and how the problems were approached.

They have decided on some form of granite pillars to mark the site with some plates describing the danger plu s the dissemination of the information to libraries world wide in order to increase the chance of the information to survive. However this part of the project is not to be placed on site before 2028, so plenty of time to redesign. A call for ideas was run earlier by the ‘Zeitschrift für Semiotik’ in 1982/83 and several ideas were proposed. Including nuclear priesthood, programable DNA or the genetically modified cats that can actually change colour upon coming near radiation.

I guess the call on this is still open and it will remain a challenge to deal with the wast we are producing in many sense but definitely here it is opening dimensions we are incapable of handling using traditional planning tools.

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Over the last few month Europe realised that there are changes under way in the Middle East. Since December 2010 in a number of countries around the Mediterranean and the red sea people are protesting against their regimes, essentially asking for a changing of Government with fundamental changes for their society. In most cases the regimes are in place for thirty years or so and govern the countries in a totalitarian fashion not letting the large part of the population take part on any of the political processes.

Path of Protest_Guardian
Image taken from the Guardian / Interactive infographic depicting the protests in the Middle East on a timeline. Each icon links to a news coverage of the event. Click image for the interactive version.

These events are both culturally and politically very significant and were largely not expected. The protest in some countries have already lead to the toppling of the regimes as in Tunisia, and Egypt and there are ongoing protests in Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Marocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. In Libya the protests have turned into a civil war between pro Gadhafi military and Rebel fighter causing some European countries together with the US to intervene and establish a no flight zone, essentially helping the Rebells by attacking the Gadhafi troops from the air.

The Guardian has put together an oerview of the events, covering the timespan from end of 2010 to Spring 2011 listing the events interms of news coverage. They have come up with a really interesting visualisation for this summary as a sort of blend of Google Place marked timeline with an Inception theme, very much in the style of Here + There by Berg but in a temporal context.

The bending of the time axis indicated the time flow as a linear progression dropping down from the top, vanishing under the viewers feet as if on a running machine or in a hamster wheel. However, there is something very engaging to this sort of visual, similar to the first person shooter perspective, the consumer is presented with an interpretation of the viewing field. It has this computerized navigation feel to it.

Image taken from Etheriel / City folding, with an onlooking Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb.

An other reference of course is the Inception theme, of last years Christopher Nolan Blockbuster staring Leonardo DiCaprio in a race inside the human mind against the cock touring different levels of dreams. One of the visuals for the film scenery was the folding of space, bending parts of the city of Paris.

The visual for a temporal, rather than a spatial representation, as use by the Guardian, has lesser boundaries for such folding concept. The developers Sheila Pulham who was recently involved with a number of data vidualisation for the Guardian and Garry Blight can play more freely with the projection of the future and make good use of effects such a perspective and blurring. The navigation however is solved with two handels, one to go back and forwards like a gear shifter and the other one as a slider across the top in the form of a horizontal timeline. Both are doing exactly the same and it is very unclear why they have chosen to add a second timeline in the ‘traditional’ horizontal orientation.

The verticality of the representation has a very convincing feel to it. It of course refers closely to the ideas of Hagerstrand and his time-space aquarium, where the time is plotted vertically, extending a 2d spatial plane into a 3d cube. The bending sort of implies more of a ‘lived’ version where the pure vertical option is rather abstract with the time coming from somewhere and never enduringly dropping down. In the folded option the time at least lies behind the observer, however it leaves open how this big pile of unwound time string piles up in the back.

Image taken from Etheriel / City folding, with an onlooking Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb.

Via information asthetics

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This publication is in many ways not really a book and as it says on the front cover, it is more of ‘a Prospectus of Developments…’. It is not as big or thick as a book, but it most likely outweighs them all in one aspect, the timeframe it covers. Architecture – a Synoptic Vision summarises the developments in architecture from 1900 to today, where today is 2007. The prospectus is published by Birkhauser and includes a card a poster and a booklet.

Its the fascination with the past as the struggle to organise memories to make sense of the present that shapes the desire to redraw history. And in many ways this synopsis does redraw the past hundred years, in colour and blogs, with lines and words. The three authors Adrian Meyer, Susanne Kuhlbrodt and Beat Aeberhard put their vision of the past forward as an ‘example of an evolutionary history’.

Image by Adrian Meyer, Susanne Kuhlbrodt and Beat Aeberhard / Card showing the style and movement developments in architecture during the 20th century. Taken from ‘Architectur : a Synoptic Vision’ by Adrian Meyer, Susanne Kuhlbrodt and Beat Aeberhard, published by Birkhauser.

They note in the introduction the changes in how architecture is thought and practiced and how distinct movements have been lost in the course of the years to drown in the global distribution and the enormous availability of information. They note: “These differing views have marke contemporary discourse on architecture as a highly controversial and at the same time ideological exercise”.

The large poster chart is one part of the publication and summarises in a downwards direction visually the development and different groupings in architectura style and theory. Structurally dominant are the three concepts of Modernism/Classicism, Dogmatic Modernism and Expressive Modernism. Where as Schinkel stands above the Dogmatic Modernism and Semper above the Expressive Modernism, the Ecole des Beaux-Art stands at the beginning of Modernism/Classicism. The three blobs are augmented in detail with names of architects practicing in the tradition of one of the three areas. For important figures milestones, key projects are also listed. So for example Kahn is represented with the Yale Art Gallery, New Haven Connecticut, 1951-53, as part of the Modernism/Classicism. Le Corbusier stand for the Dogmatic Modernism with for example Unite d’Habitation, Marseille 1946-52. And Hans Scharoun forms part of the Expressive Modernism with for example the Philharmonie, Berlin, 1960-63.

So far for the main body of the hundred year chart. It becomes more complicated in recent years, where, as the authors note: “The positioning of contemporary attitude, in particular, is speculative and can only be preliminary in nature because of the historical distance for a more thoroughly examined allocation is still missing”.

As a result the recent thirty years are part of the same blob. Visually the three distinct streams merge into one, around the first and the second oil crisis (1972 and 1979 respectively) as the Reflective Modernism. At the same time though, the sub categories become many and smaller unnamed groupings of practices and architects form. so is Foster, Nouvel and Piano a blob, or Diener&Diener, Krischanitz, Maerkli and Snozzi for example. But of course aso features Herzog de Meuron or Sauerbruch Hutton, Kollhoff and Chipperfield. Any name you can think of in a current architecture landscape is put down on the time axis with a group indication.

Mies 1964
Image taken from MoMa / Brick Country House, project, Potsdam-Neubabelsberg, Plan
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (American, born Germany. 1886-1969) 1964. Ink on illustration board, 30 x 40″ (76.2 x 101.6 cm). Mies van der Rohe Archive, gift of the architect. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

In the accompanying booklet the authors discuss briefly the main characteristics of space styled topics over the period. The idea is to illustrate “humankind’s interaction with built space” using archetypal buildings. The topic are ‘the Centre’ with Kahn and Schinkel, ‘the Horizontal’ with SANAA and Mies, ‘the Third Dimension’ with Loos and Hertzberger, as the three keys.

The thing with time is the constant struggle for order and there have been previously and there will be many other attempts to make sense of it all, bring history in order and paint one consistant picture. This can only ever be done from the current moment of being in retrospect with the whole rucksack of knowledge and experience, values and desires. In this sense each attempt is a very momentary and personal eg subjective one. However, this is not in any way diminishing the value of any of these attempts, on the contrary, it highlights the importants it has for the moment as well as the identity it creates. In some ways the interpretation of the past has to be interpreted as the image of the present.

This is a great publication and the poster should be pined up at every office entrance, of course with the office positioning its elve in the context of such a temporal framework. The playful integration of history as a stimulant for visions, definitely a creativity field manual.

Image by Adrian Meyer, Susanne Kuhlbrodt and Beat Aeberhard / Cover of Architectur : a Synoptic Vision by Adrian Meyer, Susanne Kuhlbrodt and Beat Aeberhard, published by Birkhauser.

Via Birkhauser, additional review can be found at Archidose.

Meyer, A., Kuhlbrodt, S. & Aeberhard, B., 2008. Architecture — A Synoptic Vision Pap/Chrt., Basel: Birkhauser.

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The dramatic events of the last few days unfolding in Japan have definitely also had an impact on how we assess safety risk and stability. As the rescue and stabilisation operations are still in progress the full extend of the disaster is not as of yet to conclude. The scale of the destruction is massive, especially through the tsunami that followed the earthquake and which has basically washed away the whole North East coast.

Mappings are under way, from Google to open source projects. ABC news has put together, similar to the version of the Australian flooding, a before and after documentation. Etire villages and towns are flattened, the buildings simply gone. The force of the water can be seen in videos pushing houses down the road. An incredible force, something not imaginable and certainly not expected.

Japan 2011 tsunami
Image taken from Ann Fischer / Japan flag as a red ball with the tsunami wave rendered in 3d onto it. Data used from the NOAA image showing the expected wave hight.

The events have jumped out of scale very early on. The earth quake was the larges in Japan’s recorded history. But in many other ways, is has also shifted scales. The dimensions with the multiplication of the earthquake and the tsunami and now, as a result the looming nuclear emergency.

On a very spatial scale the earthquake had shifted the whole of the Japanese coast line by some 2.4 meters. Who said the land is a constantly stable entity? It is unclear what the impact of this movement and remapping and redrawing the coast lines might be the simplest task. Infrastructure has definitely been hit hardest, the rigid installations of roads, train lines, bridges, pipes and cables. To what extend there will bean impact on navigation both on land and in the air is not as of yet clear. “At this point, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass,” said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Japan is located on the Ring of Fire, the falt line around the Pacific Ocean where constant earth movement result in hundreds of earthquakes a year. However this scale is ver unusual and the 2011-03-11 earthquake was the strongest ever recorded in the history of the country.
Because of the location Japan is putting in a lot of effort to be prepared, probably Japan is the best prepared nation on earth for the case of an earthquake. At this scale however things are a bit different, it is simply overwhelming and complications pile in.

This event of course also draws attempts to compare to earlier events and history is once more unrolled. There is a lot to uncover and the Japanese disaster history is long and the society pretty battered with events, in this sense a very strong nation always has been able to cope with the most dramatic of events.

Kobe earthquake 1995
Image taken from Wikipedia / The Great Hanshin earthquake, or Kobe earthquake, was an earthquake that occurred on Tuesday, January 17, 1995, at 05:46 JST (16 January at 20:46 UTC) in the southern part of Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. It measured 6.8 on the moment magnitude scale (USGS),[1] and Mj7.3 (adjusted from 7.2) on JMA magnitude scale.[2] The tremors lasted for approximately 20 seconds. The focus of the earthquake was located 16 km beneath its epicenter,[2] on the northern end of Awaji Island, 20 km away from the city of Kobe.

There are definitely two, that immediately draw up to this most recent one. The first one is the Kobe earthquake that destroyed the central part of Japan around Kobe on January 17 in 1995. The vast devastation included around 200’000 buildings the port of Kobe and large sections of an express way. The nation was unprepared and the disaster coincided with a economical down period making it even the more difficult to get the recovery on track.

The second event, also in relation to the unfolding nuclear aftermath of the distaster is the much older, but nevertheless very present, nuclear attack on Nagasaki and Hiroshima on August 9, 1945 and Monday, August 6, 1945 respectively. The attack not only destroyed with devastating impact the whole area, but contaminated the wider region. The impact reached far beyond structural damage and with long term effect through the radiation had vast social and psychological effects.

Japan 2011 and Nagasaki
Image taken from News Flick / Above: A destroyed landscape in Otsuchi village, Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan. Below: Nagasaki following the August 9, 1945 dropping of the atomic bomb “Fat Man”.

All these events drag through parallels of disaster and trauma mix up the times and pull these events closer together ignoring the usually in linear fashion imagined timeline. Are we going in circles.

Of corse int his context another event is very present, the Chernobyl nuclear accident on the 26 of April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR. With Japan now struggling to bring the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that was badly damaged during the earthquake under controle these memories and experiences come back to live. In fact telling from the government reactions through out the world, especially Germany and Switzerland, but also Russia and the EU, nuclear energy was considered save and sound. Probably it was secretly being promoted as the solution for many countries to the global warming and sustainability programs. No one really was in the game with a large majority to lobby against the very powerful nuclear energy consortiums. Many countries have only recently revoken legislations to abandonne nuclear energy, such as Germany or Italy in 2008. Most countries are now however, revising and revisiting their active plants and plans for new ones. The recent events in this sense were a sudden wake up call with a good stirrup of settled perspectives and believes.

Clearly this goes way beyond just Japan. The impact on many levels from economy to energy are global. Technology is save and well developed but only to some extend. Nuclear energy production has changed since and because of the Chernobyl disaster, but still a large number of reactors currently running are dated, were built in the seventies and eighties. The earthquake has also, according to calculations by the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 10 centimeters. Similar movement was reported also from the 2004 Chilenian earthquake in a National Geographic article. “should have shortened an Earth day by 1.26 millionths of a second, according to new computer-model calculations by geophysicist Richard Gross of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. For comparison, the same model estimated that the magnitude 9 Sumatra earthquake in December 2004 shortened the length of a day by 6.8 millionths of a second.” The Japan earthquake should be in about the same league. Even though this sounds very dramatic experts point out that such changes are part of the constant movement and changes of the planet. These measurements are based on mathematical models and not actual measurements. The changes are presumed to be much too small even for satellites to pick up.

Nevertheless, the fact and especially the idea of the ground moving and with it changing the duration of the day as our basic rhythmic unit is really disturbing. It again points out that there are more interconnections apparent with each event than we usually are capable of perceiving and willing to take into account. In this sense the ongoing development of the disaster in Japan is definitely active on many scales with the power to shift these scales. Rigid structures are moved, ground is shifted, areas contaminated, towns erased. More over, security is destroyed, routines buried and safety washed away. A lot of lives have been lost bringing with it great human tragedies. Whole towns are destroyed and large urban areas such as Tokyo with around 35 million people at risk from the nuclear fall out of the badly damaged power plant.

This sudden dimension shift on spatial but definitely also temporal scales are are considerable part of the extend of the disaster for the individual as much as society, the town as much as the city and the nation as much as the world.

For support and donations Google has installed a central webpage for Japan 2011 support as one of many ways to help.

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As we all know from experience, maps generally focus on the physical quality of the space. They follow the box like idea of pace a a container with objects and chart these features one after the other in metric separations. Creating a mesh of abstract relationships.

How frustrating this can be in practice everyone has probably experienced. Taking the bus from Euston station to Kings Cross to connect to the Eurostar to Paris can be a lot longer than simply walking the distance, since practically always the bus will get stuck on Euston road in traffic.

Very similar with London tube stations, almost always one stop trips are quicker to walk, especially in central London. By the time you have reached the platform and afterwards marched back up to the surface again you have walked a lot further through tunnels and up and down stairs, than you would on street level.

Such representational concepts were developed as for examples by Dicken and Lloyd. They mapped out the impact of the new European High S[eed Rail Network. The map showed how London and Paris moved closer together as a result, putting them closer than London to some of the larger cities in the UK. Some more on Mapping Distance and Time in an earlier blog post HERE.

UK time map
Image from strange maps / Dicken and Lloyd 1981

The time it takes to travel from one place to the other is in everyday practice often a lot more important than how far it actually is. The cultural concept of being on time plays an important role herre. Since we are living together in this city every individual has to arrange his or her needs around the general practice. The bus leaves at this time, the first tube opens then and shuts down after midnight. The density of inhabitants inflicts a strict agreement.

With the density there are also transport mode internal differences occurring. Congestion at peak times can dramatically change the journey times. Traffic jams or free flow times are something the everyday experience teaches inhabitants over time.

Paris time map
Image from Xiaoji Chen’s blog / The map of central Paris drawn according the time requirements. Mode of transport from left to right, bicycle, metro, car.

Xiaoji-Chen, a MIT student, looked into this problem and has developed a map representation that changes according to the time required. She explains: “In these distorted maps of Paris, the distance between a spot and the city center is not proportional to their geographical distance, but the cost taken to get there.”

To develop the tool processing was used, with Open Street Map data. For the connection data she used Google Directions, RATP.com

Poster Image

Xiaoji-Chen also visualised the differences between the modes of transport, as car, bicycle and walking with obviously shrinking maps as a result. It is fast by car, yes, but as Xiaoji-Chen points out the carbon emission is of course higher, so she introduces this additional information, telling the user also how much carbon this mode produces. In this way the mode of transport for a journey can have on the map a number of different factors included in the decision making process. This is the new thing, the extended map. A map enabled to take multiple factos into a account. This extends the abstract and objective map into the realm of experience, definitely a great development.

Paris time map
Image from Xiaoji Chen’s blog / The emissions for the car journey.
Paris time map
Image from Xiaoji Chen’s blog / The emissions for the metro journey.
Paris time map
Image from Xiaoji Chen’s blog / The emissions for the bike journey.

Via arkinet

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