Saturday, July 17, 2010

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] the hybrid city as interface

Dear Roger, dear Martin, dear Daphne and all

I very much agree with the suggestion that one of the most useful
applications of these techno-social systems (locative media and generally
systems that support the convergence of mobile telecom networks, GPS and
novel interactive interfaces on mobile devices) are these that afford local
citizens the possibility of capturing data and collaboratively creating
their own cartographic or environmental representations for various

Urban Tapestries ( and later Social Tapestries
( by Proboscis and partners were two of the
first projects to offer this potential.

OpenStreetMap is a more recent attempt to provide free geographic data such
as street maps to anyone who wants them and to support collaborative mapping

These are two examples of systems which have afforded a bottom-up process of
creating a map, or a meaningful environmental representation of an area.

Of course, the process of enriching an environment with meaning thus
creating a place through the use of such media largely depends on the
intention of the parties who create this system in the first place. One of
the things that I have noted during my involvement in creating and
evaluating systems that involve location detection is that those who create
them either call them:
* location-based services and apps (mainly IT perspective ultimately
oriented towards creating innovation and revenue) or
* locative media (mainly art/design/social media approach attempting to
create not necessarily revenue-generating systems but interventions which
may support the emergence of new ways of reading, writing and living our
These two terms are clearly indicative of intentions and even of the
politics underlying the creative process.

When studying these systems in order to evaluate them or to learn from them,
one can approach them from various perspectives:
Apart from the ICT oriented approach that usually focuses on their
functionality and usability, by mainly employing quantitative methodologies,
one can investigate the use of these systems from the perspectives of social
sciences, social psychology, cultural studies, environmental cognition, new
media art aesthetics, urban studies, cartography, etc. and of course there
is common ground between these perspectives too.

What is also interesting to note, is that we have passed the era of merely
utilizing these new media in order to identify their potential and we are
seeing more and more systems/artworks/interventions which attempt to capture
patterns/characteristics/qualities/dynamics of everyday life in the city
(and I find the title Invisible Dynamics so appropriate). Apart from the
examples that you have mentioned so far, another very good example of such
an artwork is Christian Nold's BioMapping project

And indeed I agree with Martin and Daphne in that we are very much in need
of the critical approach of artists or scientists who will work with these
systems and investigate their use in order to reveal issues (i.e. the Loca
project, by Evans, Hemment, Humphries and Raento:
problems and phenomena of everyday life and for creating meaningful
environmental experiences.

Finally, I would like to thank all who have started to contribute to the
discussion already and hopefully will continue through till the end of the

Best wishes


Dr. Dimitrios Charitos
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Media Studies
National and Kapodistrian University of
e-mail: vedesign at otenet dot gr

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