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— urbantick

March 2011 Monthly archive

Visions and ideas are ephemeral and can be occasionally tightly connected to a location. A specific spot that triggers a vision, something connecting a thought and a place. This trigger very often carries emotions and is loaded with specific feelings that can bring a physical reaction, for example goos bumps in a ghostly sort of way.

Making this phenomena a working tool the environment can become once more a big playground with rather detailed and complex options and possibilities. This is interesting especially in an architecture context or even on a n urban level with, where space can be the media augmented by visions.

Image taken from mob-ility / A screen shot of the envisioned app grabbing the contextual information for inserting the vision.

Architecture student Sahar Fikouhi from the Bartlett has developed a augmented reality concept based around this notion of spatial narrative for the development of architecture visions. The idea is to use the AR layer to detect the context specification and develop directly in 3D a fitting structure. The Achi-Maton tool is not fully developed app, but a great sketch in it self creating this sense of goose bumps.

Sahar explains “It allows for real-time scanning and sketch design of architectural structures. The application consists of 4 main functions, including site analysis, programme analysis, design library and material library”.

Image taken from mob-ility / A series of screen shots documenting the development steps.

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Many different location based apps have surfaced recently making excellent use of the localising capacity of the latest generation of smart phones. However the trend is going through phases. everything from transport app to news feed now wants to use the current location for whatever. In the beginning there was a lot of excitement that it actually works and apps where pars. The check-ins came along and made it big with Brightkite and Latitude, then Foursquare and finally Facebook pushing the train. Now we’re in a sort of location bubble with every app inside. This is not going anywhere, so better getting into a niche as things are still rolig.

Wanderlust is such a tool for the smart phone developed for a niche, however closely related to other specialised fields. Wanderlust (the making of) is a mobile story telling platform integrating with the cohort of Foursquare, making use of their massive database of check-ins. Via these location the narratives unfold. The clever concept of the Wandelust stories is, that they play at generic type locations instead of actual unique locations. The narrative relates to the type ‘Bar‘ and this is not a specific bar, but just any bar you can find.

If the story starts at a ‘Shop‘, off you go, into the next shop and the narrative unfolds. The location plays an important role in so far that it is used to determine the type of location you are in. In some sense this is location type hopping according to storyboard. The narrative will tell you where to go next to find the next part of the story and hear how this bloody mess is resolved (in the story obviously).

The platform is very helpful in finding the right place as it ties in with the Goole Maps routing service and finds the quickest way to get there. So it is hard to get lost, but it is especially hard to find an excuse not to play or listen in this case. Not even the platform provides an escape, it runs across platforms. Quite cleverly it is built as a webpage, using JQuerry, any browser capable mobile phone can load. No complaints, out you go, pull these stories in!

Tourism by Naomi Alderman: A chilling urban fantasy, beginning in a bar. Tech by Tom Chatfield: A thousand words of science fiction in one act, beginning in a restaurant. Ivy by Andrea Phillips: A dark and dreamlike fairytale, beginning in a nightclub or music venue. In The Shadow Of Her Tail by Matt Wieteska: An urban fantasy, beginning in a shop. South by Southwest by Adrian Hon: A homage to Hitchcock’s spy thriller North by Northwest set during SXSW 2011, beginning (of course) in a convention center.

If you have an ide for a story get in touch with the guys at @wanderlustapp.

Image taken from narrativenow / Wanderlust graphic.

Via roomthly

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The professional version of facebook has now als reached the 100 million user mark and is still growing. LinkedIN the social networking platform for the professional world has published at the beginning of March 2011 their growth in numbers to make a good impression. Founded in 2003 in Santa Monica, California by Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant, the platform has grown to be worth almost $ 3 billion and makes a revenue of over $ 160 million, this is up over 200% from the previous year 2009 at just over $ 80 million.

It was a niche market back the and probably still is. But once your big things settle and a niche can be good business. The main asset linkedIN really has is the content. All these details of businesses, jobs and positions as well as the real people behind it. They say that 73 of the Forbes 100 best companies are using linkedIN hiring systems. This means that the platform hosts a massive amount of details and hors unimaginable stock of knowledge on the worlds markets. These days knowing about the business connections is worth more than actually making business.

Regarding the numbers, there is one more number of the financial sector that is probably interesting. LinkedIN earns about $160 million, but its expenses are almost $150 million. It’s actually expensive to know all these details. Presumably most of the cost goes into infrastructure.

In terms of the demographics, LinkedIN hosts over 58% male profiles and only about 42% female profiles. The main user group is between 25 and 50 years old, but the group of 18-25 year olds are also quite keen on the service with over 20%.

In terms of geographical distribution, as you would expect North America is LinkedIN homeland. with about 48% of all the users. The classic blindspots on the map are Africa, South America (except Brasil and Argentina), the Middle East and the Far East (except India). In terms of geographical gender distribution North America is doing better in terms of equality than every body else with 45% f and 55% m, where the Middle East with 23% f and 77% m is the most unbalanced market. However this is presumably not taking the numbers of users into account.

Through out the network the larger companies, over 1000 employees, are the most common. Also Smaller businesses tend to like the service, where medium sized businesses seem to be not that interested. As you would expect the leading branches are hightech 16% and finances 13% with agriculture covering the end with only about 0.4%. In terms of the job function academics are floating towards the top with around 10%, only the sales department is larger with 13%.

Interesting are aso the facts around the use and growth numbers. In terms of time of the day apparently there is a very high after lunch peak over all. During lunch and after lunch really seems to be the time web users find time for the sneaky break to check their social networking status, read a few blos and apply for a better job on inked in. The graph below also incudes the mobile user times and interestingly they mainly access the service after work and in the evening. However I imagine the graph to be slightly out of scale, the mobile users would be a lot smaller in numbers than the actual web users, but never mind. So if you really want this job you better apply before lunch.

linkedIN 2011
Image taken from mashable.com / The linkedIN network by numbers compiled by xxxxx on 2011-03-22.

Via zioigor

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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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Today at the conference in Oxford ‘Visualisation in the Age of Computerisation’ we will be presenting a paper. The conference is packed and there are waiting lists for all events. This is to say how popular the topic currently is. Of course Oxford is a great place, they have managed to cover a vast variety of topics and invite popular and well known key speakers. Nevertheless there is also the aspect of hype and coolness about the topic that plays an important role. For an outine of the conference see HERE.

Steven Woolgar has in his key note already pointed out the differences in the rais of the visualisation and surprised with a few in depth analysis of visualisations. From neural advertisement analysis to the translation of lectures in to animations and the viualisation of key strokes as colour and sound.

The paper presented by Tim Webmoor and myself is focusing on aspects of ethics and practices for online social research especially regarding the gray area in which it operates given the lack of covering academic protocols. The title of this contribution is ‘Massified Research and Visualisation’ and it is based on the forthcoming paper “Scaling Information in the Information Economy: Implications for Massified Research and Visualisation from Public API Feeds’. The abstract of the presentation can be found HERE.

Below you can find the presentation to click through.

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The Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS) is organising a two-day conferenceVisualisation in the Age of Computerisation‘ on 25-26 March 2011 at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
“The theme of the conference is the permeation of science and research with computational seeing. How does computer mediated vision as a mode of engagement with information as well as with one another effect what we see (or think we see), and what we take ourselves to know?”

The event is structured along three main topics: Changing Notions of Cognition, Changing Notions of Objectivity and Changing ontologies of scientific vision.

Rain at musicfestivals
Image taken from onlinejournalism blog / for a viral-friendly piece of visualisation, it’s hard to beat this image of festival rainfall in the past 3 decades.

Speakers include: Peter Galison, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, Michael Lynch, Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University, Steve Woolgar, InSIS, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and the summarising discussants are: Anne Beaulieu, Virtual Knowledge Studio, Paolo Quattrone, IE Business School and Fulbright New Century Scholar

I will be presenting a paper together with Tim Webmoore on ethics and visualisation of large scale dataset mined from the web, with a focus on twitter. We’ll be using the NCL mapping project for examples, to develop an illustrated argument for ethics in this field. However, the aim is to use ethics to support this kind of research, using ethics and a clear position as a framework. We believe that such structures are of additional value to the research and researchers and ensure in the long term academic research quality and standards.

Abstract: In this paper, we examine some of the implications of born-digital research environments by discussing the emergence of data mining and analysis of social media platforms. With the rise of individual online activity in chat rooms, social networking platforms and now micro-blogging services new repositories for social science research have become available in large quantities. The change in sample sizes, for instances, from 100 participants to 100,000 is a dramatic challenge in numerous ways, technically, politically, but also in terms of ethics and visualisation. Given the changes of scale that accompany such research, both in terms of data mining and communication of results, we term this type of research ‘massified research’. These challenges circle around how the scale of, and coordination work involved with, this digitally enabled research enacts different researcher-participant relationships. Consequently, much of the very innovative and creative research resulting from mining such open data sets operates on the boundaries of institutional guidelines for accountability. In this paper we argue that while the private and commercial processing of these new massive datasets is far from unproblematic, the use by academic practitioners poses particular challenges. These challenges are manifold by the augmentation of the capacity to distribute and access the results of such research, particularly in the form of web-based visualisations.
Specifically we are looking at the spatial and temporal implications of raw data and processed data. We consider the case study of using Twitter’s public API or application programming interface for research and visualisation. An important spatial consequence of such born-digital research is the embedding of geo-locative technology into many of these platforms. A temporal consequence has to do with the creation of ‘digital heritage’, or the archiving of online traces that would otherwise be erased. To unpack these implications we consider how a selection of tweets can be collected and turned into data sets amenable to content and spatial analysis. Finally, we step through how visualisation transforms such vast quantities of tabular data into a more comprehensible format through the presentation of several visualisations generated from Twitter’s API. These include what one of us has developed as ‘Tweetographies’ of urban landscapes, as well as examples of recent Twitter activity surrounding the disasters in Japan.
Such analysis raises issues of privacy and ethics in relation to academic ethical approval committees’ standards of informed consent and risk reduction to participants. Such massified research and its outputs operate in a grey area of undefined conduct with respect to these concerns. For instance, what are the shifting boundaries of public and private space when using Twitter and other platforms like it? Are Twitter and other social media platforms’ disclaimers as to privacy sufficient justification for academic and commercial use? Are the standards of social science research protocols applicable to research on and for ‘the masses’?
To conclude, we discuss propose some potential best practices or protocols to extend current procedures and guidelines for such massified research.

Mountains out of Molehills
Image taken from Nora Oberle’s blog / Another beautiful data visualisation. Even though in this case, the topic is not that hilarious- it’s about news coverage of scare stories. Remember tumours and cellphones or “killer wifi”?

Full conference programm to download HERE.

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In sync on the dot with the beat, goes the graphic as the beautifully melancholic song by James Blake drags on. Its fascinating to watch the transformation of form, shape and colour in tune with a very rhythmic pice of music. This is nice because of its visionary combination and a serious attempt to imply importance on a level of playfulness popping dimensions.

The work is created by Yaniv Fridman with the title Unluck. As he discribes it “Messing around with C4D, just for the fun of it”. Well what a mess and what a beautiful mess. But then, mess is usually beautiful and inspiring in a second attempt and paying with the potential it has to create additional work driving the development and leading on, messing is definitely worth it. You never know.

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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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Flows of people and cars, full streets and walkways, platforms and crossings represent a dynamic urban metropolis in flux. Tokyo the 24 hour city is the ultimate density symbol and reference for flow representation.

Through out the clip the individuals find shelter, escape the rush and break out, rest and jump back in. Opportunities are multiple. There is a group of friends chatting in between a large body of pedestrians staying as the mass shifts by. Or the individuals that find shelter from the flow in the shadow of some pillars dividing the mass of people streaming by.

Interesting how architecture suddenly plays a different role in this context of temporal representation in the form of a timeLapse. Corners, bends or obstacles turn into havens for a timeout. All this is beautifully framed by Joe Wiecha. The images are shot before the earthquake earlier this month and we hope that the metropolis and the whole of Japan soon finds back to its routines. Tokyo time lapse feature also HERE and HERE earlier.

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The tsunami wave, generated by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake of the East coast of Japan on the 11 March 2011, spread through out the pacific threatening many coastal sections in different countries. The water fore strongest hit the Japanese coast shortly after the earthquake. All other countries had a little more time to evacuate and prepare. Hawaii, was one of the next destinations in the line of the wave. The arrival was expected by NOAA, the tsunami warning centre, around 13h17 the same day.

Looking at the activity on twitter during the tsunami we are on the search for clues about the relationship between twitter and an unfolding natural disaster. As an inspiration to serves the XKCD PhD comic ‘Seismic Waves‘.

In this close look at twitter activity related to the tsunami resulting from the earthquake, Anders Johanson has animated the messages for one hour before and one hour after the expected arrival time of the tsunami wave in Honolulu on Hawaii. The messages are collected through the usual NCL collection method and are focusing on actual geo located tweets that contain lat/long information. Johanson explains “At the time instant when each new tweet is posted, a bright red blob appears on the map, and this blob is then decaying in intensity and size. Re-tweets are shown as an arrow, pointing from the original source of information. Interestingly enough, the information wave has the same direction as the seismic wave. However, there are obviously way too few data points to enable a rigorous spatio-temporal analysis in this case.”

IMage by urbanTick for NCL / The graph shows the number of geo located tweets sent per hour from Honolulu, on 2011-03-11, in a radius of 30 km on the day the tsunami resulting from the earlier earthquake in Japan was expected to reach the Hawaiian coast. In white are the overal tweets and in purple the tweets containing the key words wave, tsunami and earthquake or Japan. The first dotted line from the left is the expected arrival time of the wave on the coast of Hawaii at around 13h07 UTC. The second dotted line is the arrival time of the wave on the coast of Mexico.

The tsunami arrived in Hawaii and hit hard, causing damages estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. On the twitter scape on the other hand, there is a slight increase of activity after the wave, but actually very little. However, as you can note in the graph above there are more tweets using the keywords related to the natural disaster unfolding than there are thereafter, especially after the wave arrived in Mexico.

UPDATE 2011-03-18

Processing the twitter data some further, the spikes on the keywords do fade out nicely in the hours afterwards. This time we are working with the larger data set containing all the located tweets including the geo located tweets. This data set differs from the one used earlier as that it included reverse geocoded locations, eg places, but not necessarily pure lat/long messages. This set contains some 260’000 messages as compared to some 20’000 geo located in the earlier dataset.

Looking at the event over longer period shows the pattern much clearer. There is a lot more activity around the expected tsunami wave and the dying out of the keywords can be observed in the following hours and days. However it also confirms that to some extend the purely geo located tweets, as a sub set, folow largely the same pattern and are not

Note, there is a baseline tweet containing the term ‘wave’ that we picked up as part of the collection. This is a weather boy just of Honolulu tweeting the current status of the water, wave and wind.

Image by urbanTick for NCL / The graph shows the number of geo located tweets sent per hour from Honolulu after 2011-03-11, in a radius of 30 km on the day the tsunami resulting from the earlier earthquake in Japan was expected to reach the Hawaiian coast. In white are the overal tweets and in purple the tweets containing the key words wave, tsunami, earthquake or Japan. The first dotted line from the left is the expected arrival time of the wave on the coast of Hawaii at around 13h07 UTC. The second dotted line is the arrival time of the wave on the coast of Mexico.

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