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I will be speaking at the Society of Cartographers 48th Annual Conference today. The talk will focus on the New City Landscape maps under the title New City Landscape Maps: Urban Areas According to Tweet Density.

The maps are visualising location based tweet activity in urban areas and part of the talk will focus on urban morphology and real world feature to influence the virtual activity. The range of maps produced show that unique conditions exist for different cities from around the world and this is reflected in the Twitter landscape maps.

Three types have been identified showing similar characteristics. A type with one central core are, a type with several different islands of high activity and a type showing an area or shape of high activity.




Image by urbanTick for NCL / Top row central type, middle row feature type and bottom row island type.

Also we have been monitoring Twitter activity in London during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Whilst this is still ongoing a first preview of the data is showing a surprising shift of activity, a new addition to the landscape of the NCL-London map respectively.

There has an actual peak appeared over the area of the Olympic park with masses of location based tweets. It is something we have always talked about in presentations of the maps in the past couple of month and here it is, it finally did show up as a major ‘landmark’ in the virtual map of London.


Image by urbanTick for NCL / Locationbased Twitter activity in London during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Olympic park on the right does show up as a remarkable peak during the early period of the Olympic Games. A final version will be produced in the after the end of the Paralympic Games.

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Millions of users leave digital traces of their activities, interactions and whereabouts on the world wide web. More and more personal conversations and private messages are being shifted to these on-the-move channels of communication despite the many metadata strings attached. In recent years, the social science aspects of this data has become increasingly interesting for researchers.

Social networking services like Foursquare or Twitter provide programming interfaces for direct access to the real time data stream promoting it as free and public data. Despite signing acceptance of public rights these services have in their usage a predominantly private feel to it, creating for the user an ambivalence between voyeurism and exhibitionism.

What is the position of academic research upon using these datasources and datasets and how can academic standards be extended to cover these new and very dynamic in time and space operating information streams whilst protecting individual users privacy and respecting a high ethical standard?

In this presentation the use of digital social networks data will be discussed both from a user and from a processing for research standpoint. Examples of data mining and visualisation will be explained in detail developing a framework for working standards.

This talk will be presented at the lunchtime seminar at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, today 2012-03-14, 12h00-14h00, Seminar Room 1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road. The second speaker is Dr Sharath Srinivasan (Centre of Governance and Human Rights, POLIS).

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I am giving a presentation to the MRes course at CASA, UCL today. There are two part to this lecture. The first part is covering the PhD research with a focus on the city and an overview of the methods of investigation that have been used. It is organised along the main topics of Time, Space, Morphology and Networks, but also covers Ethics and Mental Maps or Identity as aspects.

The second part really is a tutorial explaining the production of the New City Landscape maps. It covers pretty much all the steps from the preparation of the raw CSV file to the export of the map from Illustrator. A large aspect is the data handling in ArcGIS and how to perform the analysis as well as the exporting and inter compatibility with other software. Arc just doesn’t produce any pretty results so it is essential to extend the workflow to other software packages. Softwares used: TextEdit, ArcGIS, Illustrator, Google Earth, Cartographica.

Andy Hudson-Smith over at DigitalUrban will pick up with a third part and a second part to this tutorial talking through how he developed a 3D model of the landscape map and visualised it in Lumion. The result of this workflow is embedded below.

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For a lecture and some tutorials I visited the University of Lichtenstein today talking to a group of master students at the Institute of Architecture and Planning. The input lecture did focus on the topic of mapping and the implementation of mapping as a practice but also as a methodologies. The input is closely linked to the term projects the students are working on, the mapping of the country of Lichtenstein under specific aspects.

Lichtenstein is tiny with only some 35,000 inhabitants. The small territory constantly confronts one with the questions and expressions of distinction in order to sustain itself. A constant feature is the fact that one sees beyond the country borders. Where ever you are the reference of the other side is always present rendering this here and there relationship very complex.

Flora Danica
Image taken from akpool / An old postcard from Vaduz showing the Castel on the upper left hand side.

The task for the students is to develop representations in the form of maps that summarise their individual investigations. It all starts with a walk, a stroll and unfolds between the steps tripping stones and barriers. In thesis sense quite a dynamic and explorative setting.

The input on mapping under the title Hic Sunt Dracones – Mapping, what ever. the lecture developed a rather descriptive methodology of mapping in the context of mapping as a tool, mapping as a practice and mapping as a visualisation. The focus is on topics and characteristics rather than context and specific project.

The developed approaches range from memory mapping and interview as a tool of spatial investigation to more obvious topics of distance, sound and land use and more narrative driven proposals developed around a fictional roman soldiers who lived 2000 years ago by uncovering buried layers of remains and the refolding of processes or the discover of a 49th orchid species based on environmental conditions.

Chamorchis alpina Malaxis monophyllos Flora Danica
Image taken from ebitki.com / Three of the more rare orchid species that can be found in Lichtenstein: , Chamorchis Alpina, Malaxis Monophyllos and Flora Danica .

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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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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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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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This weekend from today the Alphaville Festival is under way providing a platform for digital media and art to be shown, discussed and explored across different venues in East London.

It is the third year for this growing digital-media platform and this years theme is “Zeitgeist, from digital to post-digital. This is very much picking up on how Negroponte put it already back in 1998 in WIRED “The digital revolution is over”.

Alphaville 2011 Cell
Image taken from Alphaville / ‘Cell’, concept by James Alliban and Keiichi Matsuda (2011)

The 2011 edition provides an online and live platform to explore, test and disseminate new deas, emerging trends, collaborations and groundbreaking works. Running from 22-25 September the programme presents social media and interactive art, open labs, meet-ups, talks, workshops and screenings alongside with live music, visual performances and parties. Taking place longside the London Design Festival, the 2011 edition enables a network of satellite events spreading across different London boroughs and links with other European cities such as Madrid (Twin Gallery) and Brussels & The Hague (Todays Art). Selected venues include Netil House, Rich Mix, Space Studios, Vortex Jazz Club, XOYO, Hearn Street Warehouse and Whitechapel Gallery. The festival programme also connects east and west London thorough a link with the V&A Digital Design Weekend.

Alphaville 2011 Bitquid
Image taken from Alphaville / Bitquid by Jeroen Holthuis (Photo by Ansis Starks)

The festival will have gathering artists, creative coders, new media technologists, designers, architects, professionals,
musicians, researchers and academics, some of the key names are: Tom Uglow (Google Creative
Labs), Marius Watz, Filip Visnjic (Creative Applications), Man Bartlett, Daito Manabe, Moritz
Stefaner, Keiichi Matsuda, James Alliban, Pantha Du Prince, Matthew Dear, Jon Hopkins,
Jacaszek and Kangding Ray.

There is a range of events including performances, talks and exhibitions. On Saturday 13h00 I will be giving a talk t the Innovation Space in Netil House. Networked Cities I will be discussing some of the Twitter visualisation we have created for the NCL project. This wil mainly focus on Ljubljana, Den Haag and Brussels in terms of activity, network and spatial diversity.

A map to find the different venues can be found below. Tickts can be bougt at the venues or online HERE. To get a previe HERE is and interview with PANTHA DU PRINCE who will be playing at the festival or a sound mix teaser below.

Alpha-ville Festival 2011 Mix by Alpha-ville

View Larger Map

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The CRESC annual conference 2011 ‘Framing the City’ is now taking place from today, 07 September through to Friday 09 September in Manchester at the Royal Northern College of Music. It is organised by Sophie Watson (Chair), Gillian Evans, Elizabeth Silva and Alban Webb.

Key note speakers include: Ian Sinclair, author of London Orbital and London: City of Disappearances; Alistair Bonnett, author of Left in the Past: Radicalism and the Politics of Nostalgia; Maria Kaika author of City of Flows; Roselund Lennart, author of Exploring the City with Bourdieu: Applying Pierre Bourdieu?s theories and methods to study the community; Talja Blokland, author of Urban Bonds and co-editor of Networked Urbanism; Nick Couldry author of Why Voice Matters Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism.

Image by urbanTick for NCLn / Location based social network based on Twitter data collected in central Europe focusing on Switzerland. Colours indicating message language. The main languages are, Italian=blue, English=orange, French=red, German=green.
The bottom line are external nodes for which we have no location information.

I will be presenting today at the conference in a session called ‘Change and Moulding’ in the afternoon. The paper New City Landscapes and Virtual Urban Social Networks is looking at how physical elements are shaping the virtual world. In detail this is how physical aspects of the location can be found as influencing parameters of the virtual description. Overall this forms an argument as to why and how digital social networking data can be useful for decision making and planning.

Increasingly people use digital or online networks to communicate and interact. This changes the social scape of the urban area and with it the interactive hot spots change and fluctuate throughout the city as individuals follow the narrative path of their everyday routines. People leave messages, distribute news and respond to conversations not only in traditional locations anymore but potentially anywhere in the city.
This paper discusses the emerging potential of social media data used for urban area research and city planning. Also aspects of visualisation as well as privacy and ethical implications are discussed. The information gathered from social media networks usually can be associated with a physical location for example via the GPS of the smart phone. For this virtual social infrastructure mapping project, the data is derived from the Twitter micro blogging service.
The data is mapped as a virtual landscape on top of the real landscape connecting it via the common place names. At the same time the data is used to visualize the social network across these virtual-real places and in this way can make visible the places were people link the virtual and the real world in urban areas around the globe.

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The Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference 2011 is under way this week in London. It opened yesterday under the topic The Geographical Imagination and is chaired by Stephen Daniels, University of Nottingham.
As every year it is going to be a very big event with a lot of paralel sessions. I will be presenting some aspects of the twitter New City Landscape research. The presentation is part of the session organised by Ladan Cockshut of Durham University under the title Getting lost on the way to Farmville“. Virtual, mobile and online spaces of interaction: Exploring the emerging geography and culture of new media technologies. The session starts at 09h00 and is located in the Skempton Building in Room 163 on the Imperial College campus.

The session has four presentations discussing the aspects of emerging social networking geographies. Two of the papers are based on gaming culture and the aspects of locality. One is presented by Kenneth Lim discussing Second Life and especially the SS Galaxy, a cruse ship. Lim’s interest for this part of Second Life stems from the view that a cruse ship is a self contained space providing all the essentials for living whilst on the move. There are of course very interesting connections to be drawn to the 1920 with Le Corbusier for example. He viewed the ocean liner at the ultimate city and admired its independence.

THe second gaming paper will be presented by Ladan Cockshut on Spatial and Interactive Dynamics in World of Warcraft. The third paper is by Amil Mohanan from UCL on the net neutrality debate discussing priotised datatransfer in the network by OFCOM and the possible emergence of a two-tiered market.

My paper is going o be the fourth contribution under the title New City Landscape – Mapping urban online spaces of interaction. The data for this paper is derived from the Twitter service, where users can send information as 140 character message. The platform allows to maintain a pool of followers (friends) with whom one shares the tweets (messages). Technically it is possible to collect every tweet sent via the open API (application programming interface) gaining access to millions of location based messages. From the collected data a new landscape based on density is generated. The features of this landscape of digital activity correspond directly with the physical location of their origin but at the same time represent with hills the peaks of locations from where a lot of messages are sent. The flanks and valleys stand for areas with lesser activity and vast plains and deserts of no tweets stretch across the townscapes. These New City Landscape maps (NCL) don’t represent any physical features, but the interaction with physical features on a temporal basis. The digital realm has become as much part of the urban environment as the physical features and with these tweetography maps they are made visible for the first time.

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