Personal geographies is a term I’ve been using in (thus far private) writing and preliminary analysis of diary studies and interviews I’ve conducted with park rangers. The above picture is the result of combining a particular kind of personal geography – jogging trails through New York city. It’s also an increasingly common type of visualisation; the visualisation of movement to emerge the shape of a space. Twitter heat maps and flickr overlays are also in vogue (not that that’s a bad thing!). The best thing about personal geographies is that, when combined, they form social geographies; the sense of place that has arisen through a community’s interaction with the city. What the visualisation above shows is a particular interpretation of a place, and one that was not necessarily deliberate.

This is also another example of digital data imposing itself on the physical world – it’s becoming increasingly easy to access the data in the digital layer above us. The seams between digital and physical are blurring too; as this example shows, our physical being in the world increasingly generates digital data, without consciously creating “content”. Conversely, the act of deliberate “generation” of content can influence our physical space and the actions we take in them. At the most basic level, think foursquare check-ins influencing which bar you go to.

We’re already living in a hybrid physical/digital world – and they’re increasingly influencing each other in ways designed or not. In fact, the duality of physical and digital may be a generational divide – in 100 years (less?), it will most likely sound comical to separate the two.

Link: Drawing New York


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