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weeks 11 and 12 :: week 13 :: week 14 :: weeks 15 and 16

This journal was built during the 20 weeks of development of my Master Thesis in Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden,
in order to serve as a dialog space with partners and with myself and also as an organizing document. It contains
decisions, doubts, and directions that led to the final design, and others that have been abandoned along the way.


Contemplationable knowledge

Last week's post placed a question on how the project would transform the experiences in actionable knowledge,
and I was struggling with this idea, because it did not seem to fit. Then I questioned this idea. Is all valuable know-
ledge actionable? Are there other kinds?

I introduce then the idea of Contemplationable Knowledge. It doesn't translate in action, but in other ways of seeing,
of contemplating what is around you. And maybe inside. Like in the Spanish movie later north americanized into Vanilla
Sky: Abre los Ojos - Open your eyes.

To me that's more than a valuable endeavour, it's a necessary one. And what better than maps to carry this information?

This last week I transcribed all the stories from the interviews and went through them extracting the elements, words,
activities and feelings that will make possible to categorize them into groups. The 2 hours of video were transformed in
6000 words of texts and 51 "experiences". Thanks a lot to all of you who shared them with me.

There are several elements that can be extracted from the stories that can be connected to map entities. It's a true
knowledge representation work, and ideally this should be by in a Natural Language Processing system, but still
this technology is not ready to perform satisfactorily.

The categories defined were: title, location, location type, landmarks mentioned, season,, time, weather, kind, good/ bad,
feelings, impressions, benefit, activity, number of people, nature / urban, senses, repeatable?, memory / wish, particularity

Once the data is distributed, I can infer and identify some structure:

And then cluster:

The intention behind this structure is organize the data in the ways that can be interesting to combine, allowing for
flexible manipulation and interesting parallels with traditional mapping legend. Structuring this legend will help me
visualize the system structure. That's the task for next week.


Paths ::

This week I also developed more the concept of the path, making it more graphical so that I can understand it better and
explore the possibilities in the map.



How Maps Work: Representation, Visualization and Design. By Alan M. MacEachren

Mapping Time and Space: How Medieval Mapmakers viewed their world. By Evelyn Edson

Information Graphics: Innovative Solutions in Contemporary Design. By Peter Wildbur and Michael Burke


Digging for inspiration

This last week started with the conclusion of the Information Architecture of the Mapping Experiences. I could have an
overview of what I consider a complete service, and could from it determine the main screen types and start designing
the main patterns and sketching the interface.

After the IA was ready, I started putting ideas on the paper and creating some sort of interface in order to verify
some ideas, see them realized or half realized and have some critical dialogue with them. This new approach was
very helpful for making me see what was only in my mind for so long, but also to show me that this was not what
I should be paying attention in the project.

This whole sequence of tagging and displaying content on a map has been done and is popping out in many ser-
vices through the web. The content focus is still a little bit different, but not enough to make an interesting project.
And also it deviates a bit from my original intent of taking the map out of the screen, and make the terrotory the map.

To sketch the interface I looked for inspiration in many sources, and a great compilation of works in Information Design
is the book Data Flow. I was also very inspired by the work of Nicolas Felton who offers his life data as annual reports
of himself in delightful posters [see image below]


Data Flow: Visualising Information in Graphic Design
Editors: R. Klanten, N. Bourquin, S. Ehmann, F. van Heerden, T. Tissot

Gerd Arntz WebArchive

Tokyo Tuesday: Japan, right now. | 東京の火曜日

Feltron Eight


Simple Complexity


C. Van Vleck | Information Taking Shape

catalogtree 4.0








Getting the interface on paper
In the past week I followed a suggestion by Rahul and started playing with the interface elements, getting things on
paper and also on illustrator. It might be getting ahead of schedule, but it turned out an excellent exercise, bringing
different concerns and getting a bit away from data and its meaning to how to show this data, manipulate it and the
possible metaphors to use.

Visual dialogue
Doing something and having it printed worked in two different ways: one more practical that is taking the ideas out of
the brain and thus establishing a visual dialogue with the project. It's easier for me to criticise and evolve the ideas
once they are outside my head.

In another direction, getting something printed gave the sensation of doing something, of getting more concrete and
moving forward. This is similar to the sensation we had as a class during the introduction to ethnography project here
in Umeå. The question "when will we start designing" still persists although I can rationally understand that the collection
and selection of data, things I have been doing so far is also designing.

First concepts
In this first attempt to create the interface, my intention is to play with the familiar and the unfamiliar, coming close to
a an ordinary map in its appearance but still displaying some out of the ordinary content. Escaping the "default" modus
operandi as Brendan Dawes describes so well in his book Analog In, Digital Out.

My first idea was to play with the concept of the legend, make it interactive and slightly strange in a closer look. Still
this is only one of the possibilities, and also to be developed further.

Stumbling on data
In addition to this, I decided to focus more on what goes on with the mobile device, to explore in more detail the
interactions that happen when people will actually stumble across the digital annotations in space. I developed further
the information architecture in that direction and found there are three main points in this branch of the project:

1 Dealing with the notifications that will alert people of when there's something interesting for them in the vicinity;
2 Defining the filters and how the information will match people's intentions and feelings at every moment;
3 Creating the invitations to engage people in following the information and also the activities proposed by other
community members.

Each one of these topics could be a project in itself. I decided that the filters are definitely out of the question as a direction,
for it falls out of my reach and interest.

But both the invitations and the notifications are very interesting topics to deal with. In the next weeks I should try to explore
them in interactive low-fi ways. Just experimenting with how people react to public invitations and how annoyed they might
be by notifications and how to make them more peripherical but still noticeable.

Gettting a device and making it work
In a different direction I got a Nokia n810 and I have been looking for different applications to try to get its internal GPS data
to another application such as Flash or Flash lite. I found direct ways to do it if it was running the S60 platform, but instead
this tablet runs on Maemo linux, so it's a bit more complicated for someone with zero experience in Linux. There is always a
library of something missing and I didn't progress so much although I have been looking in Forums and downloading loads of
new stuff.

Sleepwalking GPS
But I got one application working and been walking around everywhere with the GPS on now, just playing with the tracking
feature so that I can map my own walks. The funny fact is that after the first day I got this working I came home and found
that by the window the satelite signal was still strong, so I left the device on during the night standing there by the window.

In the next morning there was a cloud of dots and long threads of track going all the way to the river, past the design
school. I wonder if GPSs sleepwalk.

Feedback from Mattias
On thursday I had a review with Mattias Andersson, our tutor for the project and the talk went pretty well. He pointed
the direction of a playful knowledge, based on a nice experience of the content I gathered through an inspired interface.
The effort of putting an interface to paper was also praised, but I should take some steps back and explore more before
committing so much to one concept or one idea.

Exploring other ways
So I took a step back and started to think about different approaches to the experiences I collected. Different ways to
interact with them and to involve all the different aspects in a whole experience. One idea that came to me is the Moleskine,
the classic black leather notebooks used my the common and the celebrities to document their experiences. I would like
my project to be kind of a digital moleskine, that has a private and also a shared side.

Another experimental direction is to think what if Zaha Hadid, the famous architect was a cartographer. In her works,
the force lines and flow are always expressed in the design, so I feel like there are similarities that could be explored.

And still I like the idea of playing with tha familiarity of maps and legends, trying to play with these aspects in the way of
interacting with the information. After browsing through "Analog in, Digital out" I started to reflect more on the analog
ways of dealing with maps and globes to insert in the interface.


Analog In, Digital Out. By Brendan Dawes.

Mapping Time and Space, how medieval mapmakers viewed their world. By Evelyn Edson

Google Maps Hacks. By Rich Gibson and Schuyler Erle.

Mapping Hacks

Internet Tablet Talk Forums

List of common resolutions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

KML Tutorial - KML - Google Code

Sprint: Plug into Now.

phy5ics » Blog Archive » Bluetooth + GPS + ActionScript - Part 1 - Hardware

phy5ics » Blog Archive » Bluetooth + GPS + Python + ActionScript - Part 2 - Hooking Up - OS 2008

Miikka Salavuo » Blog Archive » Playing with Nokia N810











non disturbing disturbances

As a continuation after the talk with Mattias last week and starting new approaches to mapping, this week I got myself
some moleskine notebooks, one to serve as the project notebook and some from the cities series that offer some nice
features for travellers. One of them, in the first pages is a quote from Aldus Huxley:

"For every traveller who has any taste of his own,
the only useful guidebook will be the one
which he himself has written."


I think the moleskine concept has many intersections with the mapping experiences, and its character as the ultimate
notebook is very interesting. So, I hope to absorb this character by living with them and experiencing them for a while.

One of the city notebooks is fulfilling its role and has been sent on a mission with Jasjit Singh in New York city. I intend
to see how he will fill up and use the notebook, find the flaws and insights from its use to incorporate in the personal
map design.


The next step was to start sketching the notifications that users might receive from the system when they approach
an experience point. The main issue to consider is that it should not be annoying. From the sketches I started to
design a quick prototype in flash to run on the device and iterate with people.

On the same topic I wante to verify if people would respond to an anonymous invitation posted in the space. So I created
the Tsuru Report project. Some origami cranes were placed at the design school inviting users to report their journeys
from home to school / work on that particular day. All they had to do was login to a Twitter account that was created and
type. The invitation provided the login and password to the account. The invitations were not accepted I guess.
The locations may have been mistaken, not so visible and also maybe it was too much work, or too unconventional to be
perceived as an invitation. Lessons learned. Soon the 2.0 version will be released.

On Thursday I had my brainstorm session with some classmates (thank you again, guys!) and we discussed two topics
that are giving me a hard time: the filters with which to navigate the experiences and the notifications. The first item was
not so obviously explained and it required some time to get into the flow. The second was more direct and constrained
and quickly generated some interesting discussions on whether people like to be notified or not. We agreed that the
control over the notification frequency and reason gives the user a better perception of them.

And finally I continue in my series of What if...  was a cartographer. This week I was searching inspiration on Henri Matisse
(misspelled in the image - my fault) and George Gershwin. Both artists in their own way have mapped situations in their
works, I think. I find it particularly inspiring the use Matisse gives to the irregularly cut, flat colored shapes. Gershwin on
the other hand portrays journeys in his songs, such as Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris. Close your eyes and
listen... it's a good experience!



Halfway Through

 This last week we had the Mid Presentations to show the developments done so far. Usually this stage marks the end
of the general research phase and a conceptual direction is chosen to be developed in the second half of the project.

With this urge to present and explain 9 weeks of research, I was obliged to narrow the project down both conceptually
and how it is presented. Finally after inputs from many of my classmates I was able to summarize the project in one
sentence: The project aims at creating a system to help citizend start of maintain a romantic relationship with the city
they live in. Take a look at the presentation.

From this point I decided to take a direction where the map is the territory, the representation is not the most important
aspect. The localization and revelation of experiences that match individual profiles and interests are the core of the
concept. So I am now sketching and taking inspiration in this direction, of a system that reveals the localization of these
experiences in the urban space, not on the screen space.

Here's what I have so far: I've collected some inspiration from directional devices and been prototyped an idea based
on a compass, where the users can turn some dials that set the preferences for the desired experiences and the
application will then reveal them as the user strolls the space. Both the input and the profile definitions can be captured
from the cloud of information already uploaded in the several channels available [flickr, twitter, facebook,,
my space etc.]

The challenge now is to create an interesting and engaging experience in using the application and also after finding the
experiences, creating a complete service.