Posted: November 29th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
Two persons in the same place, as represented on the Foursquare interface. A depiction of co-presence mediated by technology.
Co-presence, as described by Zhao can refer to the sense of being together with other people in a remote or a shared virtual environment. To refer back to Goffman, it’s a form of human co-location in which individuals become “accessible, available, and subject to one another“.
The advent of location-based services lead to a new class of situation where people can b both physically copresent (what Zhao calls “Corporeal Copresence”) and located in electronic proximity (what Zhao calls “Corporeal Telecopresence”). Which is what happens with the Foursquare interface. The categories are then not mutually exclusive.
Why do I blog this? curiosity about what this kind of constraints can lead to, in terms of location-based services in a physically co-present context.
Posted: November 29th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
Why do I blog this? An interesting add-on to a previous discussion about “you are here” signage: the inclusion of the destination next to the “you are here” sign, as well as the use of speech bubbles.
Posted: November 27th, 2009 | Comments Off
(A Panasonic 8-tracks music player found last week at trashed next to the flea market in Geneva)
Morning read on “Material World” (found via):
“Autopsies: The Afterlife of Dead Objects
This project explores how objects die. Just as the twentieth century was transformed by the advent of new forms of media–the typewriter, gramophone, and film, for example–the arrival of the twenty-first century has brought the phasing out of many public and private objects that only recently seemed essential to “modern life.” What is the modern, then, without film projectors, typewriters, and turntables? How has the modern changed as trolley cars disappeared and hot air balloons were converted into high-risk sport rather than the demonstration of national pride in science and a crucial tactical mechanism of wartime? But what will our twenty-first century entail without mixmasters, VCRs, or petrol-driven automobiles? Does the “modern” in fact program the death of objects? What is the significance of death for things that live only through such a paradoxical program of planned obsolescence? How can cultural historians and theorists participate in the reflection on the ends of objects, from their physical finitude to the very projects for their disposal, the latter increasingly of concern with the multiplication of things that do not gently decompose into their own night.“
Why do I blog this? Great questions asked in the project, lots to digest from the website and the weblog
Besides, this excerpt reminded of a discussion with Basile about his gf’s interest in how objects die/vanish. The first picture above depicts this topic at the general level (a now defunct technical-object lineage) but the place I found it (next to a trash) exemplifies the death of a particular object (that I actually saved). There are ten two levels for objects death: as the “lineage” level and the instantiation level.
The picture below shows the traces of a dying object (and not necessarily the whole lineage though) in Montreal:
Posted: November 24th, 2009 | Comments Off
Read in “Mind the Gap: The London Underground Map and Users’ Representations of Urban Space” by Janet Vertesi (Social Studies of Science 38, 2008). Hacker Mullins Prize, American Sociological Association: Science, Knowledge and Technology Section, 2006.):
“A stable, iconic representation such as the Tube Map may convey a general sense of structure, establish points of interaction, and enable further representations and narratives about the object. It can act as a reference point for practices of navigation and wayfinding, affording judgments of normalcy and degrees of expertise or resistance. It may also, through its mapping of topological connections, be read not only as a subway map but as a useful way of representing the city in general: an object it does not pretend to represent. The Tube Map thus becomes something of a graphical user interface to the city, presenting and concealing opportunities for engagement, and making sense of the city to its users.
we are challenged to examine the representation as distinct from a discussion of ontology, topology, utility, or mimetic fidelity – against which the Tube Map would surely fail as an ‘accurate’ representation of London above-ground – to analyze the concrete ways in which representational organization enables narratives of movement and manipulation and, most important, to locate the boundaries and points of interaction for particular communities of users.“
Why do I blog this? I simply loved this excerpt when reading the paper, wondering about its implications in map design. Regardless of the media employed (physical versus digital), there are some important decisions to be taken when designing such maps and the paper pinpoints relevant issues regarding this topic.
Besides, the quote “The tube map as a graphical user interface to the city” could also be interesting for class discussion about technical objects acting as metaphors.
Posted: November 22nd, 2009 | Comments Off
Evolution of the electronic tube from 1924 to 1952 quoted by Gilbert Simondon’s Genetic “Mecanology” and the understanding of laws of technical evolution by Vincent Bontems and found in “On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects” by Gilbert Simondon. As the author mentions:
“The ebonite base became smaller and smaller until it eventually vanished; the functional parts grew larger and larger and, at the end, fill the total volume of the glass light bulb. Functional convergences also imply the differentiation of functions. Specialization is accomplished synergy by synergy.“
Why do I blog this? interesting example that I keep up my sleeve about an interesting claim of Simondon: the immanent order of concretization (i.e. the complex processes through which technology as sets of relations form and are vitalized) is the same as that of the historically observed order.
Posted: November 18th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
Into testing Eyepet, a game for the PlayStation 3 that is based on Augmented Reality. It basically uses the PlayStation Eye camera to allow you to interact with a virtual pet and objects in the real world. The process is very straight-forward. You have this black plastic placard shown on the picture above with a white square and a paw-print on it that you carefully place on your floor next to your TV set. The PS3 Eye recognizes it (as well as the environment): your surroundings then appear on your TV. You can start fooling around with an egg that soon becomes a gremlin-like pet. The game mechanic is progressive and based on interacting with the virtual animal either by touching (I mean, moving around in front of your TV that see on the screen what you’re touching) OR by using virtual objects by holding the card (which has a symbol that is recognized by the system and make the digital item appear on the screen). See for example the following case:
Here I am, trying to activate a heater to warm-up an egg. The point is to push the lever below the pink arrow.
Pushed, now I can warm the egg.
The gesture-based interaction works pretty well, especially when using virtual items. However, what is definitely tough here is that you have to act in front of your TV in a mirror-way: moving an object on the right (on the screen) requires that you move your hand on the left. This reversed-then-flipped mirror image of your room is a bit disorientating for me; i guess it may be difficult for kids as well. In the preliminary gameplays you need to make your pet jump several on a trampoline, so you really need to be accurate when you move it around so that the pet doesn’t fell down on your floor. That being said, I found intriguing to have this sort of setting where you make gestures in the physical world and you access some sort of mirror-world on the TV. I do think however that game designers could play more on that trick.
There is also an impressive feature that enables you to draw things on a sketchbook… which are then translated into virtual items in the game. You draw a picture, hold it up in front of the camera and the system will try to copy it (it only works with good lighting conditions).
Why do I blog this? My interest in this sort of things is connected to by my research about interaction design and my interrogations about the role of uselessness in robots/networked objects.
Of course it’s a bit frustrating (game mechanics are quite basic, loading times are long) but there are really some interesting interaction ideas in there. I am personally not sure about the virtual pet thing (why does those thing ALWAYS have to look like boring gremlins?) but this is an interesting step in the evolution of virtual/digital interlinkages.
Posted: November 18th, 2009 | Comments Off
An interesting depiction of a recent phenomenon: the expansion of sidewalk in occidental cities. In this example, it used to be very tiny and the new version will make it wider.
The design of the urban environment is strongly modified according to recent concerns about global warming (less room for cars, more for bikes and pedestrians) and social trends (encourage physical exercise).
Posted: November 17th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
The real-world, a classic mushroom encountered in the mountains in the French Alps.
A digital representation in Super Mario Bros by Nintendo.
Back to the physical world with mario-like mushrooms spotted in San Francisco, next to Union Square.
Why do I blog this? sorting out some pictures of Flickr lead me to wonder about how meme circulate from the physical to the digital and the return to the physical.
Posted: November 13th, 2009 | Comments Off
Two quick Unified Resource Locator that caught my eyes yesterday evening during my commute:
- Sometips by Jordan Mechner about game design principles for narrative games. The second hand “List the actions the player actually performs in the game and take a cold hard look at it. Does it sound like fun?” is an interesting filter to prioritize the interactions you want your users to be engaged in. A sort of follow-up to Crawford’s list of verbs I mentioned the other day
- Choose Your Own Adventure (thanks Carly for this), a visualization of interactive books
Why do I blog this? both are about games/entertainment but these principles/viz can be applied to other domains. I see them as important interaction design heuristics.
Posted: November 11th, 2009 | 3 Comments »
Last monday, at the Lift seminar at our offices, we organized a set of talks about urban informatics. We discussed the large variety of data that are generated on top of the physical environment and their opportunities in terms of representations, analyses and services. When it comes to digital data, one can talk about “traces” but I will left the term “urban traces” out of the discussion because this discussion can applied to situations that go beyond the city context (suburbs, countryside…). This event was part of the urban informatics workshop series Fabien and have been running.
(Fixed sensor to measure bike usage in Marseilles)
My introduction to the seminar was about the types data that are available. I presented first the usual kind of data (cadastral, road/railroads/water/electricity/cable/telephone networks infrastructures and usage), talked about the open data initiative. However, our interest was really about “traces” of people’s activity in space, for which one can discriminate:
- Activity-generated data: fixed sensors that can detect bike usage, moving sensors (pedometers, mobile phone, use of Velo’v bikes (unlike Velib bikes, Velo’v seemed to have GPS sensors, is that correct?), automatic location-declaration (on location-based services such as Aka Aki which automatically tells you who is in the vicinity)
- Volunteer-based data: that is… user-generated content, which can be technology-based (pictures uploaded on sharing platforms such as Flickr, or self-declared positioning as people report their location on Foursquare). It can also be non-technology-based: see for example Respiralyon a french initiative that enable people to report on smells and odors in their own city.
Then Fabien described different projects he carried out, which aims at engaging the audience on the potentials benefits of exploiting the logs of digital activities in our contemporary cities.
(Measuring the pedestrian flows in Barcelona using Bluetooth sensors, a project carried out by Fabien for a spanish client)
To put it shortly, all of these data form a sort of informational membrane that surrounds the spatial environment. We have already dealt here with the possibilities afforded by these data that I described my french book about locative media:
- Visualize the data to describe the urban activity, reveal the invisible, make explicit the implicit (you can see Real Time Rome as a paragon for this use). This first step generally helps bringing new perspective for decision making and policies building or raising awareness and effect the discussion making of individuals or of a crowd.
- Use the data as a model for spatial activities that can enable what i would call “urban stakeholders” to act upon them. A good example for this is to provide urban planners, transportation authorities or traffic engineers with data to refine their models of citizens spatio-temporal behaviors… and eventually help the decision-making process: where to install certain services (or how can we craft certain incentives so that we make specific shops/services to be located in a designated areas). As Fabien mentioned, these data can help to complement existing models (it’s not a substitution) drawn out of surveys or qualitative analyses.
- Use the data as a model to build applications on top of them. This is what Citysense aims at: building a tool to help people taking certain spatial decisions based on others’ behavior. It shows the overall activity level of the city and hostpots as well as also links to Yelp or Google to show what venues are operating at those places. In addition, combined with other sources of information (such as Yelp), it allows to filter out places in the vicinity.
This part was followed by a presentation by Boris Beaude (EPFL) who is an insightful geographer and a talk by Pascal Wattiaux who discussed the role of technologies in the production of the olympic games. My role as a moderator did not allow me to take notes but Fabien did. Both of them gave some perspective to the “urban informatics” trend by showing a large set of constraints (geographical issues, event-related problems, marketing troubles), critiques (data reductionism) and of course opportunities for the near future.
Thanks Fabien, Boris and Pascal for their participation!