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Tag "timemap"

Australia has only just recently suffered the worst flooding in years, with large areas of the East Coast under water. Brisbane was hit very hard with high waterlevels over days.
ABC-News has put together a coverage story showing in detail the impact of the flooding before and after. It is a sort of time warp representation between two given dates. Click HERE for the slider version 01 and HERE for the slider version 02.

The visualisation is based on date from the nearmap service. They are providing detailed resolution time aerial maps, just like google maps does but with an integrated time slider. Google offers a similar tool in Google Earth to see older imagery, but nearmap offers more and much shorter timespans between the dates. So it happens they also have imagery ready from right during the flooding.

Rosalie Village [Click for original nearmap]

Cleverly the imagery is overlaid and allows to drag the before stage to reveil the after, showing water everywhere. Of course the images line up perfectly with the difference of what happend to the place in the mean time.

Milton (Lang Park) [Click for original nearmap]
Milton (Lang Park) (before flooding)
Milton (Lang Park) (after flooding)

Floating pallets in Rocklea industrial estate [Click for original nearmap]
Milton (Lang Park) (before flooding)
Milton (Lang Park) (after flooding)

In the original representation this obviously has the wow effect for discovering whats underneath and then covering it up again. This is great interactive visualisation. The fasciantion lies in the hidden part.

HMAS Diamantina in ‘dry dock’ at South Bank [Click for original nearmap]

Two men in a floating ‘spa’ in Chelmer [Click for original nearmap]
Milton (Lang Park) (before flooding)
Milton (Lang Park) (after flooding)

Via infosthetics

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The Oxford Dictionary defines time as ‘the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole’. With this the definition leaves open a lot of the really interesting questions, or does it include additional possibilities?
It does name a number of features such as past, present and future, as some sort of categories. Further it list progress implying change or even improvement. This is attributed two further elements continued and indefinite. The first one hinting at ongoing change and the later one ads a never ending property which is sort of in itself an timely attribute.
However to come to the questions, interesting are the aspects of linearity, the arrow of time, the multitude, singular or plural and of course the conception.
In todays everyday life, time has become so immersed and integrated it is generally regarded as something a natural as breathing (Glennie & Thrift, 2009, Shaping the Day). Usually perceived as an additional sense, a timesense?, but at least a natural fact. However, this is fiercely debated and often opposed by scholars. Nowadays aspects of time are everywhere everything is on time, timepieces rule every single step we take in the city and we surround us with timepieces (to make the clear distinction between clocks, watches and timepieces) where ever we are. Most household kitchens will nowadays spot about five different fix installed units telling the time of day, plus some gadgets telling the time temporal or are mobile. Of course there is more, navigation, communication, computers all really on hyper accurate timepieces, without which nothing would work.
This sort of clocktime (Glennie & Thrift, 2009, Shaping the Day) is however, not very old.
Since 1967, the International System of Measurements bases its unit of time, the second, on the properties of caesium atoms. SI defines the second as 9,192,631,770 cycles of that radiation which corresponds to the transition between two electron spin energy levels of the ground state of the 133Cs atom. This has developed from the discovery by Galileo that a pendulum swings regularly regardless of the distance it covers. There were however timepieces long before this, sundials and water clocks, but they were less reliable and uniformed.
Since Galileo’s discover around 1600 the concept of the clock developed and gained increasing significance in everyday life particularly in social life, as an regulator of practices. This nowadays manifests in the time disciplinary enforcing institutions such as schools or workplaces, but also leisure activities and entertainment.

The Creation of Adam, ca 1511
Image taken from Wikipedia / The Creation of Adam, ca 1511, by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564)

In terms of rituals and religious practices time has played an important role for a much longer time. This has obviously defined the cultural conception of time. The linear understanding of time can be traced in Christianity with the ideas of the Beginning, God’s creation of Adam and Eve and the End as the Second Coming of Christ or the last Judgement. A one way, linear procession dominates the scenes and leaves a lasting impression in the collective memory.

The Last Judgement. The Louvre.
Image taken from Wikipedia / The Last Judgement. The Louvre. Date not known, but the work was engraved in 1615. It was probably painted in the last decades of the Valois dynasty (1560–89), by Jean Cousin the Younger, also called Jehan Cousin Le Jeune (lived c. 1522–1595).

In other cultures and religions however the conception of time is different. Cyclical in Budhism and for example in the Egyptian culture. The Greeks used two concepts for time, a formal objective Chronos and a expressive subjective time, Kairos, as an opportunity as gap or timeout.
In the culture of the Hopi Indians, natives in the south west of the Americas, the concept of time does not cover the same three tenses present, past and future. Instead the Hopi’s use only two times (Whorf), an objective time and a subjective time (the terms might be confusing but the anthropology research reaches back in time where these terms might have had slightly different coinings). Those are manifested (object) and manifesting (subject). Objective elements are all the things accessible to the sense, being physical. What we call future would be in the real of the subject, the desire or the mental. The Hopi culture also relates time to space in the sense that distance is part of the manifested as a duration. As a result simultaneity does not exist. something far away can not have the same time since the ‘distance’ lies in between. (Tuan 1977, p.120) Spatially very interesting here is how the two concepts meet in the distance, far away merges with the dream.

Image taken from Space and Place by Yi-Fe Tuan 1977 / Page 121, Figure 15. Hopi space time: subjective and objective realms. The objective realm is the horizontal space within the cardinal grid, but at the distant edges it merges with the subjective realm as represented by the vertical axis.

Science has occupied the debate and dominated the conception of times as linear for the best part since Galileo’s pendulum. Only in the 20st century, the discussions on the topic, covered in various disciplines has taken on a different perspective. Where Newton strongly argued for an objective time, a single and true time concept, Einstein developed with the relativity theory an alternative concept, allocating time a subjective role, with time passing at different speeds for different observers. This is the development in physics, but simultaneously the conception of time was reexamined by philosophers, especially the french league with Bourdieux, Lefebvre (Rhythmanalysis), Serra, DeCerteaux and others. Here the debate between objective and subjective time continued with the phenomenologists entering the debate. However, as Elias points out in his Time: an Essay, both view in their base found on the concept that time is something given, a fixe instance, measurable. In this context the third concept of social time was developed. As Elias describes it (Elias 1992): ‘To perceive time requires focusing-units (humans) capable of forming a mental picture in which event A, B and C follow one after another, are present together and yet, at the same time, are seen clearly as not having happened together; is a synthesis only humans are capable of and learned and developed over generations. Knowledge of time’.
In the current debate most philosophers would agree with a concept of time that is non linear and the concept of multiple times is accepted as a social aspect.

In exact science however, the linear singular clocktime continues to dominate everything. The discussions as well as the projects and work undertaken. This lead to the increasing exclusion of temporal aspect due to the arising problems with the integration of linear time that doesn’t fit with the complex systemic concepts any longer.

This could be about to change with the recent envelopment in spatial research and the focus on mobility and location data. Aspects of temporality all of a sudden move into the prime light. This of course goes hand in hand with a shift in development and availability of specialised and capable technology.

There have, in visualisation terms, interesting approaches developed. The time geography dominated by Thorsten Hagerstrand is one example (actually this one goes beyond a mere visualisation), but also the time distance based distortion maps or animated visuals. Also the aspect of comparison between two instances is used quite often. Usually the same object is shown at two different stages to visualise the change that took place between the two points in time. Implying the Newtonian time aspects apply.

How aspects of the modern discussion on the term time apply to science in the field of geography and particularly spacial analysis is still blurred, even though we increasingly see promising approaches emerge.

The Last Judgement. The Louvre.
Image taken from datavisualisation.ch / Ebb & Flow of Book Characters by Jeff Clark working with adapted StreamGraph code to work with arbitrary text documents.

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Time as an element of space (simplification) is a tricky thing. Mapping the time is even worse. It pops up here and there and some nice example have been developed recently, mainly in connection with digital application. A series of posts on this blog have been dedicated to this problem. There was an early one on aquarium and one on different aproaches that I have tried with my data and an other one with examples of software to deal with this.

Image from strange maps – Dicken and Lloyd 1981

Interesting on those time space maps really is how a distorted image emerges. Space, or better the shape we know looks different as distances become longer or shorter due to the aspect of time it takes to travel it. On the above map the South East of England almost vanishes as it is quite accessible from London where as western and northern areas are quite stretched out.
Since 1981 the Eurostar Tunnel has been opened and travel times to mainland Europe have changed. Paris is only just under two hours away from London these days. For the construction of Euralille the leading planning office OMA has produced a set of nice graphics visualizing how Europe moves closer together with the Eurostar and TGV network expansion.
Time can also be a very interesting on a smaller scale. Again OMA used it during the planning of a project in Yokohama. It was part of the programming process. Mapping the different uses over twenty-four hours gave a good insight on how the development will be used. Density and location are adjusted as needed.

Image taken from S M L XL Project – Euralille Project and Yokohama project timetable.

The use of technology such as GIS, database and mapping services such as Google Maps, Yahoo Maps or Open Street Map have give rise to a new breed of interactive time maps on the internet. One such example on London commuting times can be seen here. You can use the two sliders above the map to adjust desired travel time and property prices. The visualization is based on excluding information. The map does not distort as seen above, the sliders basically simply direct a black overlay that turns areas of the map invisible. In this sense it is a rather simple visualization. But it gives a good sense of the geographical area that a certain time frame applies to. Mainly for map reading trained people though. For others this might just add to the confusion. The simple travel times provided by London transport might be, in most cases more helpful. In terms of accuracy one can argue here, that there will be a delay or any sort of other complication anyway and it hugely depends on what time of the day you are actually traveling. So basically the time frame for the time frame would be important.
In short the perception of travel time is a very important factor. This is probably more important than the actual travel time. TFL somehow has the problem, that people expect it to be slow and unreliable and this probably affects the perception of travel time dramatically.

Image by mysociety.org

BBCone Has produced an animation of crime over time in Oxford. They are looking at a week and document how the amount of crime builds up. Again it is based on a normal map and colour dots fade in and out to indicate locations and a time slider on the top gives information about the time of the day and the day of the week.

Image by BBCone – Oxford crime map over time

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As promised with the last post on Google’s Latitude, I spend some more time on other options. And actually it can be said up front; Latitude is boring whereas other applications can be very exciting.
Sorry, I had to mention this.As discussed in a comment last week Latitude is probably not meant to be cool. I now understand it more as an additional data service Google provides. A service that especially targets a new market of location based information. I assume Google plans to get people to use it, but then to involve third party companies to “use” the location data to target them specifically. This will most probably include Google itself, for ad placements forexample.
Any way this is only speculation and others might be more of experts in this field. There is a huge discussion on this topic, including some horrific stories about privacy and stuff.
But this was about other options for location based interaction. From the iPhone based tracking, the step towards a web based tracking is not far and the set of additional options is enormous. Only starting from a simple message or chat tool right up to location based tags and content such as photographs. The limitations of gadget based tracking are obvious, it is as if you are talking to your self, a rather introverted and singular recording of spatial movement. The web based option on the other hand offers instant updated and interaction.
I have been testing Brightkite and MapMe the last few days and I am just blown away. Not necessarily with the interface, the options or the features, but more by what a location based social networking tool could be. Facebook is so 1957 compared to this. The exciting thing is probably that you can take it with you and that where you are actually influences what you see, on the little screen of course. On the other end the information you ad to the network has this same dimension too. So you get actually quite easily in touch with new people, if used on a mobile device, because you constantly come across in real space other peoples digital junk (positive).

Image by UrbanTick – Screenshot history page with timeline on the top

But to start from the beginning, how does it work, what can you do on how does it feel? First we look at the MapMe application. It is developed by John McKerrell. It is a place to store your location and share it with friends. Like Latitude it has a main page on which it shows your location on a map. This map is based on Open Street Map data. A big awful yellow marker has written on it “I am here”. Maybe “ME” would do it as the service is called mapME? The big problem is the colour full approach of the open street map. It makes it really hard, if not impossible to actually see the location dots other than the big yellow box. Have a try on the image above, can you spot the greenish-brown dots? At least in London this is the case, because it is so dense. Somehow the colours on MapMe appear brighter than on the original OSM page.
A number of sources can be used to feed the location into the application. Through email with FireEagle, Twitter, Latitude, RSS feed or InstaMapper. This variety is great, although some seem rather crude. Like email, but then you think, there might be some devices that update positions via SMS or email, if they are not based on the rather new concept of free unlimited data access, so yes, great option.
The second cool add-on here is the timeline, hidden in the history tab. It makes the past locations accessible in a timeline. It is based on the Smile timeline code on Google Code. It is an interface based on horizontal bands that each are based on time units. One is the year, then the month and then the day, even the hour can be added. By pulling the bands one can navigate in time. The location points are then displayed on both, the band (as dots or lines) and on the map. The two stay in sync while moving through time. Brilliant feature. This is probably the first feature you will miss on Latitude!

Image by UrbanTick – Screenshot MapMe

That’s about it on MapMe. Unfortunately I have not been able to find any of my friends on this network, as it only allows you to search by username and if you don’t know, you don’t know. So if you are on MapMe please ad me as a contact! Was just looking for a direct link to my profile, but could not find anything so search for UrbanTick.
The link page is actually the history page. So here is my link then – UrbanTick.
It is really not so much of a socializing tool as a personal recorder, for witch it works brilliantly. It actually offers and developer API to add to the existing application and also lets you access the recorded data. Information about this is on the mapme blog.

If we move over to Brightkite this is completely different. It is a fully grown social networking tool. It is like facebook having attached a different design. Surprisingly there is no map! Not that facebook would have one, but if the service is location based the first thing to think about probably is a map. In the discussion board, what a surprise, there is a tread about this and the reply by Martin May one year ago was “That’s coming…the map is kinda clunky right now. We have great plans for it, but it will take us some time to get everything in…it’s beta, after all.” So there is still no map and it is still Beta, but it is still cool. You know maybe not having a map makes it more interesting. On the iPhone I have to say, there is the option to click on things and it would open the location in the maps application. There is actually the same button for the webtool. A map can be accessed through an individual post or location. It even embeds Google Street View to give you an image of the location beside the post.
Having said that there is one really cool feature that almost makes up for the missing map. It is possible to export the posted contents as a kml file to Google Earth or link it as a RSS feed. An it includes not only your stuff, but your friend’s posts as well, great. Guess you could simply put that feed into the yahoo pipes and have it on a map.
The really big thing here is it the location based information that you can access contend through. You can literally run into a comment or an image! The information filter is not only based on your friend network but also on the location, close 920m), block (200m), neighborhood (2km), area (4km), city (10km), metro (50km), region (100km).

Image by UrbanTick – Screenshot Brightkite web app distance filter

This becomes really interesting if we take the aspect of time into account. I thought about this when I posted a random picture of something I simply had in front of my lens, a construction site on the road. Now I am able to look at images other people have posted in the same location from before the construction started and people will pas by this location in the future and see my image of the building site even though the construction has long finished. Meaning that it builds op an immensely rich database of location based everyday information over location and time. A similar thing is the mobile flickr “around me” service. If you use flickr on a mobile device it will give you the option to filter contend based on your location, it is cool, but does not offer the control of Brightkite.
A specification of this is the save a location tool, where you can mark a location as special. It is a place mark and can be used to tag a restaurant for example. If you write a review or only leave a note how the meal was others can pick it up.
The iPhone app can be downloaded for free and is a must have. It is simple but offers a lot of features. There seems to be an issue with the bottom line links. On my phone the first instance shows two icons on top of each other but only one can be accessed. The “request“ button is somehow behind the ”I am …“ button after I clicked on the ”more” tab.
So again if you are on Brightkite give me a shout!

Image by UrbanTick – Brightkite for iPhone application screen shorts

The only problem with these tools, applications and software really is the real space experience. I found myself in the last few days sunken into my iPhone and being kind of absent from the environment around me. Although I was in a way deeply involved in the here and now, the past and other users experience of the same place I would have sensed. My experience was not too different as looking at Google Street View from a remote location. A rather dull and emotion less consumption of something that is being sold to me as a real location while being a bunch of pixels.
It has a lot of qualities and interesting aspects hat are not yet explored to the limit, but there is a down side to it as that the mobile use takes you out of the real world into the pixel world and vie versa while the benefit is not quite clear.

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Here are two software examples that are specifically designed to tackle the time-space-visualisation-problem. One of them is GeoTime developed by Oculus a leading and award winning provider of visualisation solutions, as they call themselves on the website. It is aiming at high end users and is as expected not cheap. The other one is a Google Code project called timeMap developed at the MIT in connection with the SIMILE project and freely available.
With GeoTime is it possible to visualize time based tracking data in an aquarium sort of way, as developed by the Lund School in the 70ties. It also uses the third dimension to show the passage of time. So spatial locations are shown as x and y and the time is shown as z coordinate. Only this month Oculus released a brand new version 4, which is said to be completely rebuilt in order to, enhance performance. Interesting could also be the Web 2.0 support. The GeoTime application does integrate with ESRI and Microsoft Products.

Image taken from GeoTime website

The really nice thing about the program, compared to the aquarium visualisations in Google Earth, is that the ground plane is interactive and can be moved in the z dimension. Effectively the plane with the spatial configuration of the surrounding represents the present and divides virtually the past from the future. What is useful is that the connection between activity on the vertically extruded path is always relatively close to the surface that displays the context information.

Image taken from GeoTime website

For information purposes Oculus has published a nice flash presentation to introduce the GeoTime software.

The open source software on the other hand is a set of code that can be used and reused. It is basically a JavaScript library and it uses the SIMILE timeline and displays on Google Maps. Different data sets can be loaded including Json and KML. It reads the location information and the time information.
The time line sis in the top part and is visualized as one or more bands that can be moved horizontally in order to move back and forward in time. The map sits below and displays by default events that are visible in the timeline frame.
By scrolling through the time bands the map adjusts. With some simple code elements it is possible to visualize data interactive.
I had a go with the data from the Christmas aquarium that I used to play with the Google Earth gadget earlier this month.
So with a bit of clipping and pasting from different examples I was able to load the KML file and have it displayed in the browser.

Image by urbanTick – Screenshot of timeMap running some urbanDiary data

There are a lot of possibilities to play around with this code. I am really looking forward to spend some time on this. It is not only the layout and the settings in the code that are exiting, but also the possibilities of integrating different data sets. The recorded tracks could for example be accomplished with some life information feed from online sources, e.g. Flicker, Twitter or News. The KML setting also need to be sorted out. The current production line for GPS track files is not very convenient.
I will try to put he version above live soon on my web space to see how it runs online. In the mean time have a look at these examples.
Timemap examples with Json data – Artists & Authors of the Renaissance, Timeline SMILIE example – The JFK Assassination Timeline.

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A more detailed image of the coloured time map.

Image by urbanTick – GPS track map colour according to time

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