One of my favourite blogs at the moment is UrbanTick, run out of University College London. It’s a good mix of technology, architecture, environments and of course, people. It particular its a great source of geographical visualisations: representations that sit at the intersection of all these things.

Visual Cities is my latest discovery through that blog – visualising geocoded twitter and flickr data. Its creator states: “By revealing the social networks present within the urban environment, Invisible Cities describes a new kind of city—a city of the mind”.

This touches on what I think is the core of my phd: the representation of knowledge about locations – that the world that exists in our minds, and the one that is created socially, is not necessarily evident in the environment, but exists physically on servers across the world, and virtually in a meta-layer above our heads.

One interpretation of ubiquitous computing is that there is potential to incorporate this information back into the environment, removing the dissonance between space and our understanding of it. Visualisations are a step towards that: towards making the abstract tangible and actionable.

Reuben, who I’ve been working with for a few years on a number of things, also talked about this and built his own simple geo-visualisation for the iPad, framing it as an “historical narrative”.

Together we’ve been building a tool that will allow people to create their own meta-data about places, and collectively manipulate and interpret this data to create knowledge. The more I think about the different strands of my research, the more I see them converging. After about a year of fuzzy directions and more questions than answers, its relieving to see a somewhat clear path is emerging.


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