Friday, October 02. 2009
[Image: Museum of the Phantom City by Cheng+Snyder for the Van Alen Institute].
In other words, you go around the city, iPhone in hand – a kind of architectural dowsing rod held in front of you – discovering the traces of buildings that never were (perhaps even fragments of a city yet to come).
“It’s the city that never was but could have been,” said Irene Cheng, an architectural historian. “Sort of an alternate future.”
Without mining the architectural avant-garde and its history of impossible projects, and before you even get to things like science fiction films and comic books, and as you hold yourself back from exploring the spatial reserves of ancient myth and urban legend – weird tunnels beneath midtown, World War II bunkers, secret apartments of the rich and famous – you can simply tap the ongoing economic recession for architectural content.
Monday, April 06. 2009
Whrrl combines activity recommendations with real-time location data.
By Kate Greene (!! in June 2008)
One rising company that's hoping for a mention during the Steve Jobs Show is Pelago, a startup that recently garnered $15 million from funders, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Pelago will soon offer a version of its software, called Whrrl, for the iPhone. The software enables something Pelago's chief technology officer, Darren Erik Vengroff, calls social discovery: using the iPhone's map and self-location features, as well as information about the prior activities of the user's friends, Whrrl proposes new places to explore or activities to try.
"If you think about your day-to-day life and how you discover things around you and places to go, to a great extent the source of that information is your friends," Vengroff says. With Whrrl, a user can "look through the eyes of friends and see the places they find compelling." The software begins with the user's position on the iPhone's map and indicates a smattering of nearby establishments. If the user's friends have visited and rated these places, the software indicates that as well. The map also shows the positions of nearby friends who have enabled a feature that lets them be seen by others.
Whrrl may turn out to be the leading edge of a wave of new location-based applications. "I think we're going to see a lot of new players showing up in this space," says Kurt Partridge, a research scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center who works on a similar project called Magitti. "Part of the reason," he says, "is the universal availability of GPS or access to location, which hasn't been available to application writers before." The iPhone and Nokia's N95 phone are two examples of phones that provide location data to computer programmers. Google's forthcoming Android mobile operating system may also help push location-based applications onto the market.
The idea of community-generated reviews is, of course, not new. The popular recommendation service Yelp, for example, is already integrated into Google Maps. And the concept of locating friends using a mobile phone has also been around for years; Loopt, a service that runs on Sprint and Boost Mobile phones, is one of the most common examples. Whrrl, which can also be downloaded onto BlackBerry Pearl, Curve, and Nokia N95 smart phones, is commonly compared to both types of service. But it differs from either in that it combines aspects of both. In addition, Vengroff explains, Whrrl has collected details on establishments in 17 cities, which allows the service to provide fine-tuned local search, letting the user narrow down the hunt for, say, a café to one that has outdoor seating and vegetarian options and is recommended by at least one friend.
While the possibilities presented by Whrrl are exciting to many, its mass appeal has yet to be established. First, the location data might not be fine-grained enough to be useful in all cases, so it could lead to false positives. The iPhone relies on data from Skyhook Wireless, a company that uses an enormous database of the locations of Wi-Fi base stations to locate a person within about 30 meters; GPS, however, could do much better. Also, Whrrl is most useful when members of the user's social network actively contribute reviews. This requires that the user's friends have smart phones--and the motivation to critique the places they go.
Still, the biggest obstacle faced by services like Whrrl is privacy concerns. Vengroff points out that users control whom the program lists as their friends, who can read their reviews, and who can see their physical locations. The software also offers a "cloaking" feature that lets a person become completely invisible to his or her entire Whrrl network.
"Generally, if you give people more control, they're more willing to participate," says Tanzeem Choudhury, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College. However, some people are still concerned about how long the company will store information about its customers' locations. Choudhury says that these first-generation services will likely be used by small groups of early adopters who are more aware than most of potential privacy risks and will push companies to confront them.
Regardless, Choudhury and others are excited about the potential of services such as Whrrl. In the future, she suspects, location-based services will include more predictive features. For instance, instead of explicitly requiring you to write a review, the software might recognize how often you visit a restaurant and infer that it is a favorite. "Eventually, I think that a whole lot of exciting technology will emerge that figures out how to reduce the burden on the user," Choudhury says. "There will always be the case where user input will be important, but when we find the sweet spot, that's when I think it will take off."
Copyright Technology Review 2008.
The article up there si dated from June 2008, but Whrrl is still in beta 2.0. Since then, we've seen of course this type of services grow and this will obviously continue. It's interesting to read the article with already some distance. What seems in june 2008 something to come is now so obvious (and that was in fact already quite obvious).
Friday, February 06. 2009
Researchers at UC Irvine have been developing an interactive, “social geographic storytelling platform” called Datascape to enable novel modes of interacting with both physical and virtual spaces. Part art project, part social technology, Datascape includes a mobile “virtual periscope” mounted on a vehicle, an art installation, and software applications for both mobile phones and the web. Conceptually, Datascape aims to overlay community narratives on physical spaces, bringing virtual or digital spaces together with geographic ones. The project also looks at the possible social implications of such hybrid storytelling, exploring how different communities might use these kinds of spatial narratives:
Datascape is also looking for possible participants to test and explore the system, at the moment based primarily in Los Angeles and Orange County: “Proposals should also consider the local and immersive nature of the virtual world experience as contrasted with a typical top-down cartographic mapping approach.” Some ideas they suggest include visualizing an existing research project with a geographic component, issue-based interventions, aesthetic re-imaginings of existing communities, interactive media experiences generated by location-based information, and place-based interactive storytelling. If you would be interested in participating, email Eric Kabisch with a brief description of the issue, data, story, or experience you are proposing, or visit the site for more info.
Via Smart Mobs
Mis à part la référence pas très heureuse au "périscsope", ce projet fait partie d'une tendance actuelle qui cherche à mapper et géolocaliser les commentaires faits par des communautés en ligne sur les territoires auxquels ils ont traits. Autrement dit, rendre ces commentaires accessibles de façon géolocalisée, à l'aide de téléphones portables, etc.
Monday, December 01. 2008
"The Media Lab and Plymouth Rock Studios will collaborate to revolutionize how we tell our stories, from major motion pictures to peer-to-peer multimedia sharing. By applying leading-edge technologies to make stories more interactive, improvisational and social, researchers will seek to transform audiences into active participants in the storytelling process, bridging the real and virtual worlds, and allowing everyone to make their own unique stories with user-generated content on the Web. Center research will also focus on ways to revolutionize imaging and display technologies, including developing next-generation cameras and programmable studios, making movie production more versatile and economic."
Via Pasta & Vinegar
Wednesday, September 24. 2008
En essayant de faire abstraction du fait qu'il s'agisse de John McCain (mais on attend avec impatience la chasse à l'ours de S. Pahlin dans GE ;)), une biographie mise en géographie dans Google Earth et l'occasion de visiter toutes les bases aérienne américaines ...
September 23, 2008
The folks at BrightGIS have created a geo-biography of Sen. John McCain's early life and military service which you can view in Google Earth. You simply download their McCain KML file , and follow the instructions you'll see inside GE. I like they way they have used placemarks to view the content and navigate between the different locations of McCain's life. There are other techniques for navigating content, but this one works pretty well I think. The file is designed as a political promotion, but is informative and useful and the links for "getting involved" and contributing are not too obtrusive. BrightGIS offers services to build Google Earth/Maps content. You can also view their McCain file in Google Maps, but the GE version is more entertaining.
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fabric | rblg
This blog is the survey website of fabric | ch - studio for architecture, interaction and research.
We curate and reblog articles, researches, writings, exhibitions and projects that we notice and find interesting during our everyday practice and readings.
Most articles concern the intertwined fields of architecture, territory, art, interaction design, thinking and science. From time to time, we also publish documentation about our own work and research, immersed among these related resources and inspirations.
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