A Map Of Places You Haven’t Been

From The Atlantic:

In his final year at the Design Academy of Eindhoven, Tom Loois received a vague assignment: “Design your personal definition of silence.” Loois, whose training is in product design, had no idea what to do. He found himself, as the deadline approached, wandering around the city searching for inspiration. Then he noticed a little alley near his route home from school.

“I stopped my bike,” he says, “and I thought, ‘I’ve passed by here so many times but I’ve never been here.’ I don’t know where it goes, where it might lead.” It was a eureka moment for the Dutch designer. “I found my silence in the places I’d never been.”

Loois’s final project ended up being a smartphone app called BlankWays, which charts your progress through the city, noting which paths you’ve come down before and suggesting itineraries to cover new ground. The app indicates and measures which parts of the city you’ve traveled, and which you haven’t:

The Atlantic: Choosing the Paths Less Traveled? There’s an App for That

(via Amber Case)

New Interview with Cyborg Anthropologist Amber Case

Cyborg Annthropology

Cyborganthropology.com, Cases website dedicated to the subject, identifies three categories of human-machine combo: “cybernetic organism”; “hybrid of machine and organism”; and “creature of both fiction and lived social reality.

“Case believes its the increasingly mobile internet and its ability to act as an extension of the brain—to store and share unique information with increasing automation and independence—thats turning more and more people cyborg. As Case says, shes not talking about Terminator, shes talking about the Facebook wall and the Twitter stream; how these technologies give us the ability to create an external version of our personalities with which others can interact in our physical absence.

She borrows the term “second self,” originally coined by sociologist Sherry Turkle, to describe this unique digital existence.”When people first went online, they had avatars and fake names and silly pictures and would play around with… multiple identities and it wasnt a big deal,” explains Case. “It was fun, it was play. Now, peoples identities are tied. You sign up to Facebook with your real name.

“Not only does the modern internet user create a second self thats more closely related to the person behind the machine, but their relationships with their computing devices are becoming more intimate. An integral aspect of Cases cyborg studies is to track these changes.

Portland Mercury: I, Cyborg

My interview with Amber is here.

Hoppala: The Blogger of Augmented Reality?

When content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Blogger hit the Web several years ago, the Internet entered a new age where it became quick and easy for anyone with a computer to contribute content. This week, augmented reality (AR) took a significant step toward becoming more like the read/write Web with the launch of an online mobile AR CMS for creating content on the Layar platform.

“Augmentation” – a Web-based tool for generating mobile AR content – was created by Layar Partner Network member Hoppala. With a Layar developer account, users of Augmentation can easily and instantaneously place their content in Layar with zero code and a few clicks on a map. Custom icons, images, audio, video and 3D content can all be added by way of a full screen map interface, and Hoppala will even host all of the data.

ReadWriteWeb: Augmented Reality Becoming More Like the Read/Write Web

Previously: Create your own augmented reality maps – Layar tutorial – but this looks even easier.

What Would You Do with the Massive Datasets from Persistent Surveillance?


Marshall Kirkpatrick outlines the rapidly accumulating data from persistent surveillance, geospatial tracking, and massive sensor webs and poses the question: what would you do with it? Skipping to the end of his piece:

Let’s assume that real-time persistent airborne surveillance data becomes another cloud service you can pull down to leverage for your application development, just like storage, computing and some other data APIs are today. Let’s assume that in time this data becomes a commodity, even!

What on earth will people do with that? The possibilities seem nearly endless.

It’s hard to wrap your mind around – a sure sign that it’s a powerful vision of the future. I asked ReadWriteWeb research intern and resident GIS guy Justin Houk what he would do with such a service and his first answer was, “Become invisible and king of the world.” Then he got serious and settled on a dream app tracking food carts in the city. (“I’m a man of simple taste,” he says.)

“It’s hard not to jump right to evil uses even for me,” Houk said. “I don’t know how more sinister types can resist.”

Apparently this kind of technology is fast leaving the realm of science fiction, even if it’s being exclusively used by the military, and will soon become more generally accessible and well developed than ever before.

What do you want to see done with it, or do with it yourself?

ReadWriteWeb: Spy-in-the-Sky as a Cloud Service

I think it’s about time I re-read The Headmap documents. (I’ve only been saying that for, what, five years now?)

See also:

The Coming Data Explosion

Create your own augmented reality maps – Layar tutorial


Do you want to make your own layer? This tutorial tells you how to do it! These are the requirements to create your own layer:

Webserver with PHP and JSON support
MySQL database with phpMyAdmin
For testing: Layar installation on your iPhone 3GS or Android based phone (with GPS and compass)

Stedelijk Museum: Creating a Layar layer: a step by step tutorial

(via Bruce Sterling)

Palm Pre Snoops on Users by Phoning Data Home

Programmer Joey Hess found that Palm Pre’s operating system webOS sends his GPS location back to Palm every day. Hess also found code that sends Palm data on which webOS apps he has used each day, and for how long he used each one.

“I was surprised by this,” Hess, who bought the Pre about a month ago, told Wired.com. “I had location services turned off though I had GPS still on because I wanted it to geotag photos. Still I didn’t expect Palm to collect this level of information.” […]

Palm’s actions trigger questions about consumer privacy and the extent to which handset makers and developers are gathering and using data about buyers’ behavior. In this case, some of the concerns may be overblown, says Charles Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Golvin cites Sun CEO Scott McNealy, who said in 1999: “You have zero privacy. Get over it.” Says Golvin, “While that is certainly overstated, it is also true. Consumers, in general are concerned about privacy but look at the number of people who are willing to give up every detail of their personal lives for the opportunity to win a big screen TV.”

Wired: Palm Pre Snoops on Users by Phoning Data Home

Shizzow’s Social Location Service Marries ‘Where’ With ‘What’

Shizzow encourages users to accompany each location update with a short message describing their current activity. The added context is super helpful in real life social applications, and it elevates Shizzow above a simpler service like Fire Eagle, which just provides location data, and Brightkite, which is being used more like Twitter with location attached. By contrast, Shizzow puts location at the fore.

Full Story: Wired

Virtual graffiti

I’ve been hearing about “virtual graffiti” systems for a while, but now there’s some stuff actually happening. The idea is to be able to place virtual notes in spaces that would be accessable through cell phones and the like.

Geonotes (via Many to Many) from Sweden have a wifi based solution, but it only works with Lucent base stations. Still, from my understanding of it, anyone with Win2k, Linux or Savaje OS, a wifi card, and the GeoNotes could leave a location specific note in a Lucent base station (even if the base station doesn’t have special software installed?).

And according to this report (via City of Sound) there’s a Finish company offering some similar service:

An experimental system in Helsinki called Flirt enabled mobile users to leaves virtual messages or ?hanging data? in specific locations which would be picked up by the next user to pass the same location. The experiment turned the city into a chatroom of flirty Finns.

And here are some fun things you could do with some of this tech: Location Aware Game Ideas

(via Head Map).


Seems like everyone is talking about Headmap. It’s a pretty cool project, compiling research on how “location aware devices” can be used for social change. There’s a lot of information on this site, but I have a hard time reading the tiny, light grey font and the lack of text formatting makes the material hard to scan. Still, they’re doing well to compile large amounts of theory regarding place, magick, and technology. They’ve built a prototype of what they’re talking about, but it’s still very rough. So far it’s basically a map with links to web pages that deal with the places on the map. I think Hiptop Nation is more interesting right now, and it isn’t even trying to be any sort of revolutionary psychogeography tool.


Update: The Headmap site is gone, but I’ve preserved the Headmap Manifesto here

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