Click through for HD
Building, coding, and designing all things spatial while running around trying to fix the political means I didn’t have the time to indulge in the metaphysical aspects of geography. That should change this year, and consider that a promise for proper design, cartography and psychogeography blog posts as well as the usual tech stuff.
As the first holiday since last January, this winter break meant eating, drinking and sleeping a lot. It also gave me the chance to catch up some of the many books and movies I missed out on, over the course of a particularly hectic year.
Tokyo! is a cinamatic tryptich of stories set in the Japanese metropolis, that explore our relationship with the urban environment – “Do we shape cities? Or do cities shape us?” Its a wonderful psychogeographic journey through issues of alienation and confinement in the concrete playgrounds of the city. (If you’re in a hurry you can skip to the video at the end).
It all opens with a rather beautiful map of Japan.
And quickly segues into the outsider’s typical image of Tokyo; neon, towers and noise. A big, bright, bustling city that looks fun! fun! fun! The imagined space is somewhat in contrast to the monochrome reality above.
And this being art-house cinema the main issues being explored here are alienation and confinement. In particular, a sewer dwelling creature called
With exceptional use of out of place sounds to create the feeling of unease, in a familiar urban environment.
And then we have the hikikomori. A growing problem, particularly with young Japanese who isolate themselves from society and confine themselves inside the home. Urban ghosts.
Which gets so out of hand, that the only answer is robotic pizza delivery.
Is techonology to blame? Or are we just seeking easy technological fixes to deeper societal problems that need to be addressed? It certainly creates some spookily empty urban environments.
I thoroughly recommend watching the clips of the best psychogeographic visuals that I’ve cut into a video (click for HD)
This September, I had the pleasure of chairing the inaugral geoweb stream at the AGI GeoCommunity 09 Conference. Over the next few months I will be releasing videos of the best talks here for all to see. First up, is the talented Tom Taylor, who amongst other things is working on Newspaper Club – a service to help people make their own newspapers. I recently had the luck of contributing a little bit (a map) to the incredibly useful Postcode Paper, made as a demo for the recent data.gov.uk experiments.
Here, Tom is talking about his use of the Flickr alpha shapes and how crowdsourced data can be used to create the shape of neighbourhoods:
[To see more geo related wondery, come along to #Geomob on November 19th.]
Amongst the many, many highs of last week’s AGI GeoCommunity conference came a personal low:
Being outed as a paleotard by Gary Gale.
Back in September I started looking around the London web scene for a meetup group of like-minded Geo geeks and was pretty surprised to find that none existed. The Valley has a flourishing meetup scene, in London we’re getting there but its still very much in its infancy. After a great chat with Catherine Burton who runs the Web2.0 Mapping Meetup group in the Valley I decided it was time to create something similar here in olde London town.
So, the #Geomob event (or London Geo Mobile Developers Meetup if you prefer the full title) was conceived. After a couple of months of incessant networking, virtual stalking and a fair amount of pleading I had assembled a red hot lineup and a venue, all we needed now was an audience. Well, we weren’t disappointed and with a turn out of around 40 developers from the London geo scene including Nestoria, CloudMade, Yahoo!, not to mention our lovely hosts Google and many others.
Big ‘thank you’ to Google for hosting us, not only did they give us a great venue but lots of snacks and all important beer. They will be presenting at the next event (tail end of January 2009) so stay tuned to hear more from them.
An event is nothing without its speakers and our trio of geo experts really set the bar high, you can experience their wonderful talks in video below. Its a bit quiet so turn up the volume.
Next was Nick Black of CloudMade who ran through some great examples of customised mapping and gave a few hints as to where they were headed (hint: ROUTING):
To cap off a wonderful first night we had Andrew Grill asking “What Will it Take for Mobile Advertising to Find Itself?”
It didn’t end there, lets just say a few beers were had after.
Signup for the #Geomob meetup here.