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— urbantick

October 2011 Monthly archive

The Alps as a place for living has a log tradition as an influential source shaping specific typologies and buildings. The specific conditions of the environment but also the very special atmosphere impact on both the design and the realisation of projects.

Often this used to be very practical and pragmatic, resulting in specific and highly adapted vernacular architecture. Almost each valley over the centuries developed a very typical and very local solution always in tight interdependance to the cultural practice of everyday live, the recoures and the environmental conditions.

Gondo (CH), multi-family house
Image taken from Kunst Merano Arte / Alpine landscape, photo: H. Nägele.

The perfect adaptation was essential for the living in the rough conditions of higher altitude and steeper meadows and long winters. With the introduction of technology and machinery this has changed to some extend and the requirements might have changed. However, the sensation, the intensity and the atmosphere are largely still the same. The mountains are still a special place.

Here the weather is more intense, the light is capable of changing the landscape and the seasons are real. Architecture still reflects this with outstanding projects created for very special conditions to fit with a context of vernacular heritage.

Alps Relief
Image taken from infrastruct, original taken from Wikimedia by Jide / The Alps shown as a relief shaded according to the elevation.

The Birkhauser publication Living in the Alps/Wohnraum Alpen/Abitare le Alpi: Nachhaltiger Wohnbau in den Bergen – zeitgenössische Wohnformen mit Perspektive summarises and documents a touring exhibition on the topic of architecture in the Alps with the same title. THe exhibition and the publication is lead by the Merano Arte institution. The Alps here are really the Alps and not as previous publications might have selected the alps as a the mountainous area of a country. Here the Alps is everything with hills from the French Mediterranean around Nice through Switzerland and Austria all the way to Vienna. A total of eight countries are involved in this area stretching from Monaco to Slovenia.

For each of the differentiated regions of this large area a selection of projects is presented together with an essay describing and characterising the specifics in both culture and architecture. The projects chosen for the exhibition and also documented in the publication are all communal forms of housing. Probably as new interpretation of the older vernacular model of the multigeneration household. It is clearly stated that the single family house is not part of the this publication.

Alps Relief
Image taken from Birkhauser / Kaiserau EA7 Residential Complex in Bozen, Trentino Suedtirol, by Atelier Christoph Mayr Fingerle.

With this clear definition of focus a focus on the communities and the living in the Alps consequently the contributors are also discussion aspects of regional and spatial planning in the different regions. In cities the aspects of planning at different scales is today common practice, in many regions of the Alps this is new.

The publication is in three languages German, Italian and English. It is a large scale catalogue with cute little booklets inside, each containing one of the essays. The photographs are well selected and full page prints bringing the aspects of very specific atmosphere across.

Gondo (CH), multi-family house
Image taken from Kunst Merano Arte / Gondo (CH), multi-family house, hotel, community hall, architects Durrer Linggi and Jürg Schmid, photo: H. Nägele.

Andreas Gottlieb Hempel explains about the publications: “The exhibition catalogue is an important contemporary document of urban planning, architecture, culture and sociological development in the Alpine region. Every South Tyrolean who is interested in the change of our times should have read it in order to better understand the architectural processes in our region.”

Kunst, M. ed., 2010. Living in the Alps/Wohnraum Alpen/Abitare le Alpi: Nachhaltiger Wohnbau in den Bergen – zeitgenössische Wohnformen mit Perspektive, Birkhauser Verlag AG.

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The advances in online data mining and the rising popularity of online social networking data is posing challenging questions in regards to ethics and privacy. How can academic research provide a comprehensive framework to secure data management and guarantee appropriate handling?

Given the current popularity of data crunching, big data and visualisation of massive datasets the question of data management under ethical guidelines in a lot of cases are pressing. Current institutional protocols do not cover these new aspects that arise from the accessibility of large datasets of online data.

Social science so far still builds on the basics of informed consent with all involved participants. These protocols were implemented in the late seventies, long before the internet. Most of the protocols have been updated around the year 2000 in regards to online research involving online questionnaires and sometimes research with chat rooms.

The dramatic changes online social networking data brought along with API’s allowing the construction of large scale datasets connecting to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and the like are based on the multiplication of dimensions. Researchers are no longer working with 10, 100 or 1000 participants, but potentially with data relating to millions of individual users. Still the data in as detailed as a qualitative dataset with 100 participants might be, potentially in specific cases even more detailed. This is especially the case in regards to time and location.

Currently the discussion mainly circles around the question whether the data is free and publicly available implying that if it is to be considered so no additional measures would be necessary. The argument in this case would be that the individual users are voluntarily sharing the data publicly for free. This is however a very naive and short sighted argument. There are of course a number of complicating issues to be considered. There are three main elements to this.

NCL Twitter Sheet
Image by urbanTick for NCL / A screenshot of a Twitter data table with the different columns containing metadata. Each row represents one tweet.

The first aspect is the dynamic nature of the data. Since the data is time based and it is being produced at such a vast quantity content very quickly is superseded and disappears in the platform’s thumbs in many cases unretrievable for the individual user. In practice this can result in the fact that sets of mined data are becoming unique. In this case the acquiring of such a dataset is an act of making for which the research would have to take responsibility.

The second aspect is that the service operational aspects. It requires the user to share the information as otherwise the usage of the service in most cases would simply be impossible. If the user would not be willing to share the information this would in most cases result in the exclusion of the user or at least mean a dramatic reduction of the capacity of the service. Another aspect of the usability is that the way the user interacts with the platform easily can lead the user to believe to be acting in a private environment. In the individual setting the service only provides information of a closed circle of connections to other users. This means that the users might be tempted to share private information easily not being aware that on a larger scale all activities are public. Furthermore, it is unclear if the user has, by agreeing to use the service also agreed for all his information to be mined and researched towards specific conditions in relation to a vast number of other users.

The third aspect is the fact that no the individual datapoint, message or information is causing concern for privacy, but the series of datapoints. These newly available datasources contain a lot of metadata and continuous data which has the potential to be analysed towards patterns. In other words it is not about one or two places the individual has been to, but about the possibility to infer a very personal pattern from the information distinctively describing the personal habits in both time and space.

From these considerations and points of discussion the now published paper Agile Ethics for Massified Research and Visualization as part of the special edition of Information, Communication and Society, edited by A. Carusi is available online from Taylor & Francis.

The paper is written together with Dr. Tim Webmoore at Stanford and beside the discussion of implications as well as aspects of the development of a framework the Twitter work serves as a practical example.

The topic has already been discussed in an earlier blog post Privacy – Aspects of an Ecology of Ownership that lead at a later stage to the paper. Also a version of the paper has been presented at the Visualisation in the Age of Computerisation conference in Oxford in early 2011.

Neuhaus, F. & Webmoor, T., 2011. Agile Ethics for Massified Research and Visualization. Information, Communication & Society, pp.1-23.

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Today is the second day of the Second International Conference of Young Urban Researchers in Lisbon at ISCTE-IUL.

The conference aims to share recent researches on urban contexts from many different areas of social sciences, to discuss current theoretical and methodological issues and to promote interdisciplinary and international networking. It is intended that the meeting should be boosted by young researchers who work in urban studies and develop research in the cities – especially those who are studying in post-graduate programs but also those carrying out technical and intervention activities.

SicyURB Lisbon coference poster
Image taken from SicyURB / conference poster.

My contribution with the title Location Based Social Networks and the Emerging Sense of Place will be focusing ont he emerging potential of social media data to chalenge and redefine the established cartesian cartographies of cities by generating its own detailed descriptions of spaces. These spaces are temporal, ephemeral in nature making them hard to grasp and categories in a conventional way.

The conception of identity in this case is less the idea of the individual perception of spaces and the creation of a personal tie than it is a collective description of an emerging spatial identity as a description of spatial activity defining the urban space. Identity would here be the spatial description as such, making use of different aspects, including time, space and social connections.

The talk will be based on the assumption of a departure from the static urban conception as a given framework towards a much mor specific, individual and timed conception of city in the context of the now widely available tools and data sources. This includes a number of urban sensors providing real time and very contextual data. This can be local sensors but also includes the citizens themselves as sensors through mobile technology and social network media. With this information that is no longer gathered under the objectivity dogma, no longer serves to support the city as an institution but is highly situative and subjective to the degree that it is potentially not repeatable definitely not in a different context.

At the same time these new datasets also chalenge the established data sources on the level of quantity. So far research into the field of spatial description challenging the established objectivity were doomed due to their qualitative nature based on small ‘none’ representative samples and methods of data collection. However, the emerging data sets, provided by urban sensors, are available in numbers outshining many of the conventional quantitative sources. Therefor the argument of representativity does not bite no longer and visualisations and research is fast tracked into the interest focus.

This is not without problems of course and the description and relations of the available data sets is still vague and laks clear handles and definitions. Similar it is the case with ethical and regulative questions especially regarding responsibility and accountability. So far the institutions have not picked up on the problem and existing ethical protocols do not yet include the new questions of ownership, security and management.

Using the social networking data it might become possible to depart from the starting point of time geography by implementing the described dynamics on the level of data and start stitching together a picture of the urban environment more in the sense of Guy Debord’s naked city proposition that proposed a mapping based on experience.

However, the use of these new data sources is still at the very beginning and specific strands of interest are only beginning to emerge. The New City Landscapes are a start trying to visualise the different characteristics on a city level.

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This will be some relate, but maybe thrown together rumbling over a trip to Lisbon with bits and pieces of a conference and various thoughts and discussion extracts that link to this particular context. Being on the road usually brings up numerous new perspectives and lines of thought that might initially not be directly related to anything in particular but later on might as well find their way into a more contextualised form.

Visiting places as a tourist can often be quite frustrating. You are always the outsider, you stand out unable to step in to the secrets of the place. Scratching the surface and trotting the main paths with your fellow visitors. The guides direct you to what ever thousands of visitors have seen before tell you a little about the history but never really what you want to know and leave you in the dark about the real local narratives and secrets.

Lisbon Oriente Station
Image taken from skyscraper city / The oriente train station in Lisbons new quarter built by Calatrava for the expo in 1998.

See a place and learning about a place are quite some different things. This visit to Lisbon makes no exemption and the best probably is to accept and keep on walking, with open eyes continuously processing and combining trying to fit the puzzle pieces together reshuffle and attempt a new combination, establishing links both in terms of orientation and local practice whilst sucking ip the atmosphere of a quite unfamiliar place.

Its usually the subtile elements and little details as compared to the familiar context that stand out the most. Here in Lisbon as compared to London these are the sound, the smell and the space of the city. The three are probably diametrically the opposite of what you’ll find in the UK and especially in London.

Strong smell are common in Lisbon and you can find them everywhere usually before if at all you will find out about the source. From pleasant to truly awful there is everything. In terms of the sound, based on the dramatic differences in terms of space, architecture and topography the sound scape appears to have very different qualities. There is a lot more transition noises from activities blending into one another. A lot more activities take place in semi public spaces with a lot of balconies and loggias being involved. Then there are taler building and different street with-building hight relations transporting sounds into upper levels of buildings you might not associate normally with a ground floor situation.

Spaces are vast here in Lisbon. From the airport gates to the tube stations, train stations or university reception areas, everything is triple the size one would possibly assigne for the usage. Very impressive and completely changing the way enclosures are navigated used and finally perceived. Spaces flow a lot more here.


One of the talks at the 7VCT conference here at the Nova University was on Biomimicry and the promis of sustainable design based on such a concept. Various very beautiful and striking reference images were sown by Guorreiro during a tour do force of visually linking biological structures to urban physical form.

The occurring question of course immediately is as to how can one explain the linking of organic to man made other than visual similarities? Especially if we look at the creative capacity of people, the factors of decision making of the individual, also resulting in a cultor of space and space making.

Prof Mike Batty put it nicely in his comment during the sessions discussion time that in terms of energy consumption and optimisation of ‘the’ spatial problem this can be the result. With such a explanation the visual argument is extended and especially moves away from a direct comparison where people and cars in the road shall be see as blood cells transporting goods to the houses.

There is no doubt that there are similarities but there also are striking differences. Of this the capacity to take decision being one, but also the longevity of persistance being an example. if a mouse dies the same cells are very unlikely to reemerge as a mouse since the new baby mouse grows insed its mother, for the mouse being a mammal. However, a house is very likely to be built on the very same plot since this plot is guarded by boundary lines and the neighbouring property is likely to be owned by somebody else and at a very different stage of its live cycle (maybe there is a thing with local similarities though). This results in the discussion around boundary and finally organisational rules as sit would be extended to the discussion about culture and society in the next step. How do people live together in cities. Rules govern the structure, but they are not universal, its a trade off and locally emerged in regards to very specific conditions.

Taking this further these very same conditions however allow also for her consistence and persistance of the urban structure for a long times much beyond the individual inhabitant. Thus guaranteeing the built urban structure to develop and persist at a very different time scale. It is not down to a single planing act or the work of a generation that cities are stil there, but to the fact of social structure and the inscription of social structure manifested in physical form that lead to the continued existence of cities.

Cities rarely dye. Although there are some examples, there are even more stories of cities being rebuilt after great disasters. The earthquake of Lisbon being one or te fire of London. Nearly every city had its great fire actually , see the Wikipedia list of Fires. There is a very particular resilience about cities they don’t often die. Although thinking of it it might be the case that there are some examples to be fond.

The point is though that there are structures in place managing the functionality beyond the individual how ever important the single cities might be. This is what the pattern of activity and everyday structure is describing, inscribing activities in the urban morphology. THe word most overused in the past two years in this particular context is resilience. The capacity to withstand impacts and forces running against the everyday structure of the place.


To come back to the paper presented at the conference about the similarities between organic as in natural and planned as in organised one of the examples was the plan of Lisbon before and after the earthquake of 1755. The intention was to show how similar ‘natural’ growth is to planned growth since the planned result bears similar to the previous setting. The question being what is order and how does it emerge.

Lisbon map before 1755
Image taken from strangemaps / The city of Lisbon just before the 1755 earthquake that destroyed most of the existing city. The square and the gates to the city are already established structures. So are the linear streets following the topographical conditions.

This comparison makes an interesting example for what the organisation of order can produce. However, to argue based on this that there are similarities between ‘natural’ growth and ‘planned’ growth.

There are clear restrictions linking the two stages of the urban fragments. The first image shows the old city of Lisbon just before the earthquake in 1755 and the second plan shows how the planners headed by Manuel da Maia laid out the rebuilding plan. The bold option with a complete restructuring of the Baixa area was chosen by the king as the plan to be implemented.

Lisbon 1785
Image taken from intbau / The city of Lisbon after the replanning following the 1755 earthquake that destroyed most of the existing city.

Still as seen in many examples of reconstruction efforts, for example in London after great fire and after the second world war bombing with some of Abercrombies plans for the restructuring of the city, there are a lot of constraints that can not just be swept away as if it were a fresh plan. Landownership and established routes as well as other infrastructure or topological conditions make the rebuilding more of a puzzle task than a grand design effort.

There are of course some top down examples of restructuring such a Hausmann’s Paris plan or maybe some water dam projects in China were restructuring at such a scale is taking place.


Of course being in Lisbon makes it worth mentioning agani the visualisations developed by Pedro Cruz for the city traffic. These were covered in earlier posts HERE and HERE. The data stems forma survey covering traffic on the roads of Lisbon recorded over the period of one month. These animations developed in processing using explorative algorithms together with testing a range of analogies. Visually these representations are very captivating and stimulative in a number of ways. and on top it just loks pretty, very important too.

Having experienced a little bit the city of Lisbon over the past two days let me read these renderings in a different way. Some of the arteries have an distinct image attached and lend to read the network in relation to the topography and feel for urban identity.

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I will be at the 7th Virtual Cities and Territories conference in Lisbon today. The conference ihas six theme tracks Modeling for urban and spatial analysis, Sustainability, Urban Form and Urban Design, New Technologies in Architecture, Urban Design and e-Planning, Housing and Land Policy, Governance, Competitiveness and Innovation, Land management for urban dynamics and is co-hosted by José António Tenedório, e-GEO-FCSH-UNL and Nuno Norte Pinto, DEC-UC.

Conference registration starts on October 11th, at 8:30 am at the lobby of the Reitoria building, where you will receive your conference kit.

The opening session will take place at 9:30 am at the Auditório A (Reitoria building), with the presence of Prof. António Rendas, the Rector of the NOVA University of Lisbon, and of Prof. João Gabriel Silva, the Rector of the University of Coimbra.

At 10:00 am we will have the opening keynote lecture by Prof. Michael Batty.

The conference puts forward an interesting conceptualised summary of the topics as something called “five fingers”.

“Inventory finger”: The papers reflect the need to structure information acquired by modern means such as 3D laser scanning and satellite images.

“Visualization finger”: The visualization, namely the 3D, is currently an effective way to promote public participation in plans. The third dimension and the possibility of its manipulation is a powerful computational representation of the city and of the territory.

“Analysis Finger”: Shape analysis, urban and territorial processes, as well as the manipulation of spectral data, image segmentation, image processing, object-oriented analysis, and networks analysis (transport, social, etc.) are currently the starting points in the debate of the importance of geographic information in the organizations.

“Modeling and simulation finger”: Computer Science has become a key research field for modeling spatial phenomena in Geography, Architecture, Engineering, and Town Planning.

“e-Planning finger”: The conjugation of the previous “fingers” allows the construction of new electronic tools or computational representations of city and territories. Consequently, virtual cities and territories become the new place for planning and for designing the real world.

I will be presenting the paper NCL – Tracking Location Based Social Networks Using Twitter Data discussing how currently static descriptions of urban areas can become dynamic using data available through mobile technologies and digital social networks. The key to this shift lies in the fact that the new data allows analysis completely independent from established location formula and boundaries. The description emerges from the action not the location. The facts are newly laid out and a true dynamic description can only be achieved if fix points are eliminated. The new information is only pinned down on the here and now. With the new media everywhere is here and here is everywhere.

Since the conference is in Lisbon it makes sense to put together a few Twitter images on the place. It is not the most active place but still generates a fair amount of location based tweets over one week.

Image by urbanTick for NCL / Tweet times compared between Lisbon, San Francisco and Singapore. Lisbon has this characteristic four o’clock peak at night. It is very strong on the weekend. Another characteristic is the slow start in the morning the work plateau and te jump over lunch to the evening plateau where it drops off quickly.

Image by urbanTick for NCL / Tweets by location mainly in the centre and along the river shores.

Image by urbanTick for NCL / Tweets around the centre of Lisbon witha few hotspots highlighted by a crude density estimation. For example the Instituto Superior Técnico is a spot as well as the Estádio da Luz in the top left corner.

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Twitter data is becoming a new rawmaterial for representing cities. Visualisations are being produced frequently. The latest addition comes from Trendsmap the online platform visualising emerging Twitter trends.

The guys have produced visualisations for a number of cities from around the world plotting locations of georeferenced tweets. The series is called Paint a City by Numbers and so far covers only a doyen places, but is poised to grow with Trendsmap having access to a lot of Twitter data through heir service.

Trendsmap painting cities, Melburne
Image taken from trendsmap / Painting the city of Melburne using geolocated tweets.

Trendsmap painting cities, Sydney
Image taken from trendsmap / Painting the city of Sydney using geolocated tweets.

These sort of maps we have seen already for examples in the work of Eric Fischer. Still it is always amazing as to how much detail the maps actually contain with streets completely covered. For example in the map painted of the area around Amsterdam in this example HERE, the main roads draw out in amazing detail.

However Trensdmap have added also specific features. One of the fascinating ones is the airport. Here on urbanTick we have pointed out a number of times how different urban features draw out specifically in the city fabric and the airports are definitely a special case.

The Trendsmap guys have plotted data for the area around the Atlanta International Airport and the resulting creepy crawly bug structure is amazing.

Trendsmap painting airports, ATL
Image taken from trendsmap / Redrawing the airport of Atlanta ATL, actually the busiest airport in the world in 2011.

Trendsmap painting airports, SFO
Image taken from trendsmap / Redrawing the international airport of San Francisco resembling the shape of a spider using geolocated Tweets.

Via GoogleEarthBlog.com

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Eduard Tufte is one of the key theorist on visualisation design and graphics communication. His books have sold extremely well and his concepts have been picked up by a lot of influential designers. He is quoted frequently in writings and has very large follower basis.

Even though his books, six there are published by his own publisher Graphic Press, are already published for more than a decade, in fact his first important book, The Visual Display of Information was first published in 1983. All of the publications are by now into their second edition and still selling strong at a retail price of above $40.00.

The New York Times called him The Minister of Information, to name but one example of titles he was given. Tufte lectures around the world always drawing a large crowd.

Tufte started teaching at Princeton together with the renown statistician John Tukey where the foundations for the first book The Visual Display of Information was developed. The second edition of this publication (2001) is then also dedicated to the memory of Turkey.

This first book on graphics and information design was an instant success and transformed Tufte from his political science background into an information visualisation expert. With the publications that followed he sticked with this new field of his and extended on a number of concepts in the field of visualisation of quantitative information.

Two qualities of Tufte’s book are standing in the foreground. For one there is the quality of the publication design and there is the beauty of the numerous examples drawn from across the centuries. In combination, together with a solid argument and visionary, but detailed observations it creates a extremely powerful statement which is pure joy to read.

Even thought he publications are of some age, they currently live through a revival, in the context of the current data visualisation hype. With these wast depositories of quantitative information accessible the chalenges of visualisation are still as present as ever and often the readability and the presentation is compromised.

Time Series of Exports and Imports, Playfair
Image taken from Businessweek / An examples of the use of Tuftes Sparklines intended to be in text graphs summarising the development of time as extensions to textual or numerical descriptions.

In his first book The Visual Display of Information Tufte (1983) sets out to develop a language to discuss graphics and a practical theory of data graphics. As Tufte puts it in his foreword to the publication: “At their best, graphics are instruments for reasoning about quantitative information.” He mainly bases his explanations on the comparison and the discussion of examples. Very didactically Tufte relays predominantly in his descriptions on “this is not very good! It could be improved in this way!”

In this sense the first part of the book is focusing on the history, as Tufte puts it, the recent history, of graphicsal representation of information since the 18th century. Tufte refers to William Playfair (1759-1823) as the main inventor of a theory and practice of information graphics.

Time Series of Exports and Imports, Playfair
Image taken from Wikipedia / William Playfair’s Time Series of Exports and Imports of Denmark and Norway

In the conclusion to the book, the chapter 9. Aesthetics and Technique in Data Graphical Design Tufte brings together the observations made through out the book and makes suggestions for design decisions in regards to the graphical representation of quantitative data. It is simple things Tufte picks up here, like line with, chart size and orientation or shading, but those are the main tools of communication and what generally is overlooked.

It is only in his second book Envisioning Information that Tufte (1990) opens the discussion to include more aspects of graphical representation, sort of departing from the initial focus on quantitative data, math and statistics. In this publication Tufte incorporates much more and this is well reflected in the content that reads: Escaping Flatland, Micro/Macro Readings, Layering and Separation, Small Multiples, Colour and Information, Narratives of Space and Time. Here Tufte incorporates the visualisation and style of maps, train time tables and information signs.

It is in this book that Tufte actually discusses the impact of the design and the potential as it is evoked through good choice and specific planning. Where the first book ends, with practical suggestions, this area is extended in this second publication into a whole book really. And it is in these chapters, as listed previously, the reader finds the evidence and the presentation of again comparative examples leading the discussion.

In many ways these two books come as one and it does make sense to read them in sequence and still each book has its perfect identity. For even if your not into the practice of graphical representation of either quantitative data or any information at all it is great joy to look through the books and admire the perfect layout along with the stunning collection of examples each surprisingly comprehensive and integrative with the developing discussion of the book.

Envisioning Information: Narratives of Space and Time

Tufte, Eduard R., 2009. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information Second Edition., Cheshire, Co: Graphic Press.
Tufte, Edward R, 1990. Envisioning Information, Cheshire, Conn: Graphics Press.

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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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The spatial dimension of reading is an interesting aspect in so far as to how far it can actually become the main subject. A lot of narratives make extensive use of space and lace description and the location is often as important as the characters who really come to live from the description of spatial interaction and as to how they are set in the place.

There are genres based on location both from the stories, but also based on the authors. With for example a Scandinavian tradition for crime thriller and detective story. But how could this spatial aspect be translated to organise books?

lit location based literature research
Image taken from lit.sebastianmeier / The interaction tool is the touch table with the map and the wheel for navigation. At the top is a bare showing search result for books and stories.

A student project called lit from the University of Potsdam in Germany (2010), Urban Layers module (SS 2010) (WS 2010), came up with an interactive software design for location based literacy research. It was developed by Jan-Erik Stange and Sebastian Meier supervised by Till Nagel. The tool was developed for a touch table interface providing direct interaction and handling. The project won a Core77 design award in the category Interactive, Web and Mobile.

lit location based literature research
Image taken from lit.sebastianmeier / The map showing the sequence as to how the locations are the stage for the story.

On a large map background the location can play a number of different roles. For one it can define a search criteria, by defining places or boundaries to find books. Location however, can then also play the key role from within the book and the software can show the locations this story plays at. For this the project has developed a visualisation to link the linear book text and dots on the map. It is achieved by using an interaction wheel, showing the text as a circle, and drawing lines to the dots. This way the sequence becomes clear and everything can still happen at the centre of the table.

lit location based literature research
Image taken from lit.sebastianmeier / The map now showing two books in different colour to visually compare.

It is then possible to show the sequence also on the map connecting the dots, thus providing a spati narrative. Further more additional books can be brought in and be compared to one another based on the location.

Via Wrightbrian3, via the Atlantic

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