Wednesday, September 29, 2010

[Yasmin_discussions] Hybrid Space - Hybrid Cities discussion

Dear YASMINers,

Although we announced the discussion a week ago, we did not manage to start
very quickly but here is a first message that we hope will generate some
response from all of you who may be interested.

A bit more than a week ago, Martin Rieser and me recorded our discussion
regarding the "Hybrid Space - Hybrid Cities" theme. Below we have attached
an edited version of the content of our discussion which identified 6 main
directions towards which this discussion could proceed. Big thanks to Martin
for the transcription of this recording.

Pervasive Media and Hybrid Cities/Hybrid spaces:
Some Questions and Issues from a Conversation between Dimitris Charitos and
Martin Rieser

1) Mobile communication in public space and emergent behaviours
How is pervasive technology changing emergent public behaviour? Clearly the
boundary between private and public space is altering, and the merging of
the two has already been accelerated through mobile communication
technologies and continues to do so more rapidly through the adoption of
location– based and augmented mobile reality technologies. We note how
performative public conversations sometimes appear. Phones in public are an
intrusive technology and its appropriateness is often questionable. Some
citizens' private space may intrude into others' public space in ways which
the latter can rarely control. How therefore do we reframe ideas of privacy
in public space to take account of these new pervasive technologies?

2) The impact of mobile communication and location-based technologies
After 15 years of using mobile phones, we are still struggling to understand
their full impact on everyday life. Is mobile media a REAL benefit or often
just a noise or interference in our daily lives? One can cite the burden of
the flexible or unscheduled meeting- our attitude to the city now, which we
tend to re-imagine as an unwritten slate, so that we have a changed relation
to synchronicity. Our trajectory through it and our sense of place in it
seems to be altering from that of perceived fixed nodes to a more fluid
experience- one constantly diverted by location-based hyperlinked
information. Mapping technologies and push media accelerate this changing
sense of place as no longer a fixed terrain, but an amorphous space of
potential. Is psychogeography an appropriate model for this experience? Are
we not really just part of a new public agora -where real political
détournment is not really a consideration. In experiencing this new public
space how can the past and the present be brought together by the new
technologies in ways that enrich our lives?

3) Place and Space
Can pervasive media successfully enrich place with meaning thus creating
place out of space. Can this occur within those transferable spaces of
alienation that Marc Auge' calls "non-places"? How can these non-places be
transformed by locative media? Artists tend to experiment in memory-rich
spaces, rather than those urban deserts. Accessibility is also an
issue-since not everyone has the latest iphone, not to mention that they may
not be able to afford high bandwidth mobile web access. We live in a world
of lost histories-how can we reframe these successfully for the public? If
pervasive media allows the enrichment of space, can we also enable the
public to do this for themselves through processes which are not determined
in a top-down but in a bottom-up manner? Now that such located rich media is
emerging, how can this be filtered to ensure quality of experience for the

4) Hybridity
In a hybrid spatial experience, material (space determined by material
elements) and immaterial space (determined by digitally produced
representations) are merging. There is no longer a clear line between them.
We need to examine this phenomenon in relation to theories of the mind. Our
ability to conceptualise the world and filter our sensory inputs makes
"reality" a construction of the brain-there seems to be no such thing as
direct perception. It seems likely that the brain does not differentiate
between the real and virtual. For example, those blind from birth, who
recover their sight, have not developed the neurones for facial
recognition-our sense of reality therefore seems to depend on our developed
internal wiring. A key question derived from various project
user-evaluations is: do we actually process a mixed reality experience? It
is very difficult to examine cognitive mapping in a mobile experience.
Reports of research conducted in the context of the IPCity Project at the
Fraunhofer Institute suggest that we may switch between the two modes of
perception (Real and Virtual). Other reports suggest (Locunet project,
University of Athens, Dept of Communication, NT Lab) that we do experience a
mixed experience, a hybrid spatial experience while using mobile locative
media. We need to observe the actual processing inside the brain, something
not very easy with current technologies. But it is certain that the actual
experience very much depends on the interface design too.

5) Future Technologies
Mobile services are moving towards gesture recognition and natural language
interfaces, as well as towards emotion sensing. How can we envisage the
increasing invisibility of the device as this natural interaction develops
into a form of "unforced" hybridity-which may include mobile projection?
This may become a world where information streams start responding to our
changing emotions. Such interwoven hybridity will in turn give rise to
further new user behaviours. We already experience this with hands-free
gestural performances on mobiles. What will happen when we have mobile
non-verbal and two-way communication through enhanced or projected video

6) Intelligent adaptive and transformative architecture
Much research in Architecture at present focuses on technological
developments, but not much thought seems to be given to underlying concepts
for behaviour-changing spaces. Can the use of such technology in our homes
and work-spaces actually change our behaviour? Perhaps we need hard, clear
and accessible information streams before buildings can stimulate beneficial
behaviour change. Smart homes can be helpful, but are largely passive in
their effects. One friend's children, who are growing up in a smart home ,
expect windows in other homes to open automatically according to light
intensity or temperature etc. To affect emerging behaviours do we need to
consider a more complex relationship between design and human behaviour? We
are moving towards emotional sensing and predictive behaviour by
buildings-an adaptive architecture sensing and reacting, but allowing the
user to determine the core and auxiliary services, perhaps by learning
through a neural net!

We are looking for informed examples, which may engage with these issues.

Of course, we are also looking forward to your responses which may add to
these discussion directions that we suggested

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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