Monday, July 19, 2010

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] the hybrid city as interface

Dear Roger and all,

On Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 11:15 PM, roger malina <> wrote:
> After re reading the various posts I wonder if the term
> "hybrid city" is the right one, because the ideas really
> dont have anything to do with urbanisation as such, but
> really about how one integrates mediated senses into
> ones perception

the thing that emotionally stimulated me the most while investigating
these kind of urban interventions is that designing experiences that
make ethereal contents (such as emotions, digital information, the
scanning of time, the visualization of relationships, be them spatial,
semantic, aesthetic...) accessible and interactive in natural ways
from places people "usually" feel as inert, such as pasageways,
tunnels, walls, facades, is an enlightning process.

this kid in the picture:

autonomously started his own personal form of interaction with the
Atlas i mentioned in the other article.

The visualization covering the facade in the picture is a timeline on
which a green cursor runs across from side to side scanning years,
months and days, updating the contents of the visualization to include
new contributions from both the connected databases and the
interactions coming from users on social networks and using mobile

The green cursors runs very fast from side to side, and it is quite a
challenge to keep up with it.

The little kid, about 6-8 years old, was delighted to find out that
the once-white wall came alive with enormous drawings that he could
interact with by running as fast as he could, as the interaction
control system interpreted that motion as an unexpected super-fast
multitouch-user and tried to avoid disappointing him by performing
extra-fast content updates, resulting in an impressive data-tail to
hilight the little boy's run-against-time-cursors

this form of interaction was not expected and not designed-for, but
the system was left open enough to accomodate it.

quite a crowd gathered to watch what was happening, and the result was
quite magic, as people abandoned the hesitation that is typical of
users interacting with interactive systems for the first time and
started to try out various motions and practices to stimulate
information, guessing that some kind of alchemy could be recreated on
all of the visualizations to obtain unexpected results.

in short: the architecture came alive together with the people
experimenting movements, jumps and gestures. the simple act of
traversal become "magic" as people started feeling connections between
their movements and what was happening around them. When they found
out that they could even connect with other places, showing up on the
giant interface (note: the connection was only simulated in that
occasion, as there currently are no other cities connected, but the
simulation was as close to the real thing as we could manage to
implement it) the reactions became even more varied and interesting.

this coming-alive was clearly multidirectional, as it did not concern
the architecture alone, or only the people, but the connection between
both, either directly through their gestures or mediated by

from my analisys it is very close to a new sense. As close as the ones
we experience when using mobile phones, for example (we physically and
naturally move through space when out mobile phones don't have network
signal coverage and we want to make a phone call: isn't that a form of
sensorial experience externalized on a device?). A sense that creates
new axes and new dimensions along which to move and experience: new
forms of scanning time, information and relations.

I also find very interesting how this also produces new dimension on
ethics, for example while considering the everchanging definitions of
public/private spaces and of privacy and intellectual property:
projects like Foursquare are the clearest example of this, as they are
promoting a mass morphing process in ethics in which the physical
position of our bodies can be disclosed, monitored and observed,
potentially and completely transforming our perception of, again,
privacy, collaboration, and our perception of where the private ends
and the public begins; ending up in attitudes that are totally new and
in questions that can only probabily be answered by completely
hybridizing not only the conception of urban space, but also the ones
of identity, corporeality and the ways in which we scan time through
work, leisure, pleasure, rest...

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