visualization

City archetypes

Composite map of Boston (Kevin Lynch)

Composite map of Boston (Kevin Lynch. Source: bostonography.com)

When Kevin Lynch conducted the research for a project called The Perceptual Form of the City, providing much of the material for his seminal work The Image of the City, he asked study participants to draw their mental models of the cities they lived in. Lynch then created composite maps generated from multiple drawings, resulting an archetypal, aggregate mental map of the city. He was able to identify five shared characteristics of the mental image people form of their environments: paths, nodes, districts, edges, and landmarks. While the individual interpretation of these five elements may vary, they form the vocabulary of what he called the imageable city.

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Metacities

With the proliferation of social networks we are already experiencing a new kind of city, a city augmented with location-sensitive information. While location in the past was largely an economic factor, many of the traditional reasons for geographic specialization have been erased due to the effects of technology. As a result, location is taking on new meanings, and the city is increasingly re-configuring itself as a vessel for the growing, interconnected and constantly changing social networks that form the basis of the contemporary urban experience.

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Invisible Cities

Invisible Cities is now in beta. The project has evolved from a visualization of collective memory for Taipei to a platform with the capability of surfacing data from the Twitter and Flickr services for any geographic area. While initially we have kept the piece focused on New York City due to the density of available data, we are planning to extend it with other cities as the project progresses. For documentation, please refer to the project site, as well as our recent article in the Volume 3, Issue 1 of the Parsons Journal for Information Mapping (Invisible Cities: Representing Social Networks in an Urban Context).

Many thanks to my collaborator Liangjie Xia for his tireless dedication and remarkable talent, and also to Jason Hsu for the inspiring discourse in the early phases of this project.

City Memory Visualization update (2) / 2 comments

New York landscape populated with status updates

New York landscape populated with status updates

The visualization continues to take shape (see these earlier posts for context). We are now parsing live data from Twitter and image tiles from the Google Maps API for the surface mesh. The user interface remains the point of focus at this point in time, though we are beginning to look for data parsing solutions to help construct the semantic pathways between status updates. Below are a few images of the latest progress.

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City Memory Visualization update

Sketch of geolocated tweets, manipulating the mesh surface below

Sketch of geolocated tweets, manipulating the mesh surface below

Joining the project is Liangjie Xia, a programmer and media artist based in New York and a recent graduate from ITP.

The current project focus is on a data landscape comprised of geocoded social updates, forming narrative pathways according to themes (we are evaluating Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare as data sources). As they occur, updates add points to a basemap of Taipei, cumulatively changing the elevation of the landscape. Updates, represented as nodes, are selectable, and articulate the landscape based on other thematically related updates. Finally, we are exploring toggling between two views: the surface mesh outlined above, and a view exchanging the mesh for narrative pathways, represented by hairlines connecting nodes related by topic and time.

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