Final Lap

As the finish line comes closer the working hours increase enormously and the track of time gets lost.
It has been one long week since the last post, and I believe that is how it is going to be from now on.
I have been working on the report and fine tuning the screens, behaviors an animations for the final
presentation.

Here is a second video prototype of Walkabout. I got very good feedback over it and have been working on
the isolated parts for the new version. I'll upload it soon.

The evolution of the first video, still a lot of details to take care of, but a big improvement from the first concept.

 

Also soon I'll post some report pages

Walking about

This is the first video scenario of Walkabout. Some of the behaviors are still incomplete, but that's the focus of work at this stage. Refine is the word!

This week as the graphic explorations are becoming more concrete, I started adding the behaviors and trying the Walkabout service in motion. The first try resulted in the video above. Incomplete as it is, I could get important feedback from it, regarding the transitions when the user turns direction.

This movement of turning has range, could be a wrist motion, an elbow motion or even a shoulder or torso motion. I want now to run a quick test with users to observe this detail and refine the transition accordingly. Users regarded the Walkabout interface as being too serious, and looking more as a professional tool than a playful service that should be used in the spare time. I guess that I was imposing my own aesthetic values upon the interface and the refinement is bringing it to a more appropriate configuration to the purpose of Walkabout.

playfulness-questionnaire.png

I ran a quick user test and research on the web to find out the elements that can sense playfulness. I wanted to find

out what are the criteria behind the choices, not which combination I should use in the project. I found that roundness

beats sharpness by far, but the dark background had some interesting votes, being associated to cartoon and because

the colors stand out more. One user replied that to him, the light background, to his kids, the dark one.  The gray

background didn't get any votes.

The most curious decision came to be between lightness or boldness, represented in the study by the text. In the samples

12 and 15, the only difference is the typeface.

An equal number of people picked each of them, some arguing that playfulness comes from lightness, from being free

and moveable. Some others argued that playfulness comes from a sturdy robust and break-free shape, that is soft and

you can mess around with harmlessly.

My conclusion is that they are both right, it's a matter of choice, context and being appropriate to the project.

On the web I looked for the most famous Video Game consoles to see how they solved the same problem of graphically

inviting users to play. Curiously Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation and Microsoft XBox use the three profiles I selected, each

one going in one direction. The common elements would be contrasting vibrating colors and roundness, but a different

radius to each one of them. I understood that the bigger the radius the more friendly.

This research also confirms the apropriateness and what degree of friendlyness the service should convey. Playful can

have several faces.

playfulness_NIN_01.png
playfulness_NIN_02.png
playfulness_PS3_1.png
playfulness_PS3_2.png
playfulness_XB_1.png

Finally I have done some work with the companion website of the service, trying

to establish a common language with the mobile interface and incorporating the

more playful profile.

03_website_rev02_06.png

City homepage, before the user logs In.

03_website_rev02_07.png

User page, with the list of experiences, data, contacts and recommendations.

03_website_rev02_08.png

User page, showing the contacts panel expanded and data and recommendations closed.

The website as well as the mobile interface has been going a long way with many hours spent on finding the right elements

and the right language. See some examples of the wireframe and the previous, more serious version.

01_website_7.png
01_website_8.png
01_website_designed.png
01_website_designed_02.png
effort.png

Some Graphic Chaos to finish the post. = )

Graphic Explorations

Once the service wireframe has been defined, it was time to start giving it a face. So this last week has been on intense
graphic explorations, with many unsuccessful but necessary attempts, important steps to get to a working and coherent
layout.

This first image shows one of the last layout schemes, using the experience colorful squares as the base point for the
interface. I am searching for a playfull and inviting layout that conveys interest and curiosity and also the light
and relaxed nature of Walkabout.

This is another possibility that was developed. It also uses the colored squares but the ring that controls the timeline
is more evident and more important, influencing the other dials. This screen is used to setup the time period that
you want the experiences to be displayed and fine tune the moods, represented by the color dials.

The following images show the creat account screen when installing the application on the device, the upload to screen
when adding a new experience from the device, the common visualization with the navigation pointer to the "take me
there" function to take users to the exact point of the experiences and the icons in the menus in the common screen.

The icons in the basic screen show two menus: on the right is the add experience and on the left is the quick access to
the notification setup, going from don't notify me when talking, don't notify at all and mute system.

All the screens and icon design have been done and tested in the device screen for size, legibility and usability verifica-
tion. It has been a process of going back and forth from design and testing sometimes placing two different ideas side
by side to make sure what works best.

It has been an interesting experience to design to a small touchscreen, when the roll over function is basically useless
the design must work its way around this constraint. The hit area of the buttons must also be considered in a different
way from the screen to accomodate the less precise pointer, our fingers.

Next steps, evaluate the screens all together with users, update the feedback given and apply the behaviors to the
interface elements for the final feedback session.

structuring walkabout

The week after the mid presentation was a bit disturbed by a fantastic event held at the Institute of Design here in
Umeå. We, interaction design students worked together like crazy to organize the event and host our guests. More
about it here. Anyways, some work could be done before the event, and the presence of such important designers
was an opportunity for great feedback. [Thanks Jack!!]

From the comments I got in the mid presentation I selected some of the ideas I had and decided to try them graphically,
developing the interface in some directions to make the final decision on which way to go. Previous discussions with
Mattias Andersson and my classmates had already pointed to a more fun and entertaining experience, but still I had to
give them a face and behaviors.

 

Some aspects that I started thinking: where is the best place to reference the user, in the center of the screen or in
the bottom? Iam considering how this will affect the perception of movement and the localization of experiences. Other
issues have been either to use full screen for the application or contain it into a shape, like I had in the prototype. Finally
I started sketching some key modes to the interface and then would work in the transitions. In the image you can see
these two squares in the lower right. [SU stands for Setup - where the users applies the filters :: AV stands for Active
Visualization - when the user will actively engage with the system giving it full attention :: MV stands for Minimized
Visualization - when the system is running but the user is not paying attention to it.]

 

I started playing with the radar - like interface and the graphic problems didn't take long to appear: size of the experience icons,
how to visualize what is in them, how to call attention to them etc. I was also concerned here to make the interface in a
way that I could have the Setup and Active Mode as two faces of the same coin so to speak.

 

Looking closer at the "radar" interface in AV mode [on top] and setup [below].

 

So, after the Sensing and Sensuality event on Friday, I had a discussion with Jack Schulze about my project last Saturday.
His feedback was sharp and generous. "Mate, this is way too complicated." He showed me some other examples of
located media services and pointed out the virtues of their simplicity. The metaphor of the compass was appreciated, but
should it be so literal? How could I bring the experiences closer to the surface of the screen and not require the user to
dig for them so much? 

Specially for the content I am dealing with, that I decided to call Contemplationable Knowledge, it's not essential that
the user gets the information on the experience, so I should bring it forward from the start. This feedback in a way
answered the question regarding the use of full screen or not. I have to use more space in order to show what's each
experience is about. Time to think it over.

 

This matrix helped me think what should happen to each kind of media present in the experiences [rightmost column]
according to some parameters I defined to level of notification [top row]. From this point I took a break on the
interface per se and started structuring the system before, to find out which would be the variants and aspects
to be designed. By this time I had a name to the service: Walkabout and the knowledge that it sould happen in
the mobile device and have a website companion. So I started wireframing them both.

 


Walkabout companion website plan. Once I had the proto-screens on paper, it helped me think and evaluate the service
and what should and should not be developed in the scope of the degree project.

 


The Walkabout service is intended to happen in the mobile device, this is the focus of the project. However this was the
first time I was laying out in some details the whole process. Although I didn't concentrate at all in the graphic problems,
the interface here is already completely different from the radar-like one. I am now exploring the wallpaper as the container
of experiences that would be updated over time and of course according to location.

The main axis on the diagram represent the basic path from receiving an invitation to Walkabout to engaging with an
experience found. The lateral screens show alternative interactions. [Such as: from the invitation the user can either
install it (screen down) or learn more (screen to the right)].

 

With these wireframes at hand I had two very interesting discussions yesterday with Mattias and Rahul. The result was
that as a framework it is good, I can consider it done, but the interface must be developed and refined a lot. The grid as
it is breaks the sensuality of the content and as much functional as it is, doesn't convey the fun and serendipity that
I am defending in the service's concept.  Time to redo it again.


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, last.fm,
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.

 

 

 

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."

A.H.

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.

Notifications

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!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Interfacing

 


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

maemo.org - OS 2008

Miikka Salavuo » Blog Archive » Playing with Nokia N810

FON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

LUST / RANDOM: www.lust.nl
Gerd Arntz WebArchive

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

DAYTUM
Feltron Eight

CYBU RICHLI

Simple Complexity

SARAH ILLENBERGER

C. Van Vleck | Information Taking Shape

catalogtree 4.0

 

 

 

 

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

Actionable Knowledge

This week was about getting a direction for the concepts. Using the information from the different research
methods, I'm trying to figure out how to frame the mapping system in a useful and interesting way.

Interesting talks with Mattias Andersson and my classmates have brought some questions and ideas in this regard.
I got in contact with the term "actionable knowledge" that defines information from which you can take actions and
make decisions. I guess that this has been the main issue with the project so far. I am struggling to find a focus where
this experiences around the city can turn out to be actionable knowledge. Maybe it doesn't have to be. I am not sure.

So far I have been trying to let the answers come from the research and the data collected and now I think, and have
been strongly supported by Rahul, to turn around and start making decisions and use the research to validate them
with the users.

The questionnaire brought some expected answers, but also some interesting ones. In the purpose of using maps,
curiosity appeared more than once, for example, but FIND is the most common word.

It was very interesting to see the answers for "which device do you use to capture your experiences". This kind of reply
really makes me believe that the territory should be the map.

This week in Umeå the exhibition about maps at the BildMuseet came to its end, and several of the artists were present
giving talks and workshops. On Tuesday I attended with Mats Högström a small conference by Bureau d'Etudes, a
group of artists from France working with mapping our current social landscapes. They make visible through their maps
the power and associative relationships between entities that affect our lives directly or indirectly but that are usually
not so clear to the common citizen. Other artists follow the same line of work, such as Beppe Grillo or the american
webiste They Rule (2004).

This is one of the big questions. Can I make the city talk throught the maps?


Digital Ground - Malcolm McCullough
Seeing Through Maps - Ward Kaiser/ Denis Wood

UgoTrade » Blog Archive » Is it “OMG Finally” for Augmented Reality?: Interview with Robert Rice Tjuvlyssnat.se
The Work of Jonathan Harris

Google Maps: 100+ Best Tools and Mashups
Nokia Sports Tracker Beta
Yi-Fu Tuan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adam Greenfield at PICNIC08: The Long Here, the Big Now, and other tales of the networked city on Vimeo

API Directory - ProgrammableWeb

How to Create a Mashup by Combining 3 Different APIs - NETTUTS

Matt Jones at PICNIC08: The Emerging Real-Time Social Web on Vimeo

5 faces of research

This last week I have been involved in studying techniques for upgrading the deliverables and items to be developed
during the project as well as continuing with the collection of information and research. One important step was to
stop and figure out where the research was going, what I am getting from each front.

I was also reflecting upon the structure of the project that I selected for myself. Initially I proposed weekly goals, where
each week hold a question and a structure where Monday and Tuesday would be destined to research, Wednesday to
sketch some event or deliverable, Thursday would be the application day and finally Friday the evaluation and publishing
day.



I can already see how utopian this scenario is. It might work if your research involves only you producing stuff that
you can get out of the lab or workshop try out with anyone and then return to evolve it. But if you're dealing with mul-
tiple groups and moving around too much, schedules force you to review the plan. Also some threads from the previous
week still linger and it's hard to have such a short cycle. On top of that, it did not foresee new avenues that would
come out during the process and would require some schedule space.

Anyways, one positive aspect of the hyperstructuring is that even if you keep breaking it, you know what you are brea-
king and that more or less always gives you an idea of where you are in the process. And I am keeping the idea of pu-
blishing the weekly findings too.

In the research phase, although this was not so clear when the project plan was made, I ended up attacking the the
problem in five different forms to gather insight and information. From each one of them I hope to get some specific
knowledge to be used in the analysis and combined multiple times to the concept generation.

Interviews

I interviewed people both at the design school and at the Mapping the Contemporary exhibition at the BildMuseet here
in Umeå asking them to share with me stories that they have lived, known or witnessed in the urban space of the city.
From these interviews I got the perceptions and an activity map of the city with places that were more pointed and others
that were not. Focusing the video camera on the map I registered the gestures and ways that people point to places
when they are talking about them. There are 2 hours of video to be decoded and transcribed now.

 

Questionnaire

The questionnaire will give me an overview of maps in combination with some social networking usage. It has open
and closed ended questions. So far I have been receiving lots of answers from very different user groups. The back-
round of the users is irrelevant at this stage and wasn't considered in the survey.

 

Workshops

Yesterday I conduced a card sorting workshop with cartographers and GIS technicians at SLU here in Umeå. The cards
contained verbs related to maps. The opening question was: With maps we can... They were asked to organize the cards
as they thought would make sense, in a traditional card sorting technique. Then the groups or clusters of cards were
identified as macro groups, and finally a discussion of which should be the most important changed the perception of the
process that was built from a single linear process to an iterative cyclical process, composed of rationalize, design,
interpret, usage and learning & experience.
Although it was hard to point out the most important cluster, they all agreed
that Interpretation is crucial to maps.

Another discussion emerged of what could or not be called a map, the main different arguments pointed to the necessity
or not of the physical space navigation. Another aspect however was pointed: Maps should always evidence the relation-
ships between elements.

So, from this experiment I wanted to extract conceptual models made by experts on the field on the utilization of maps.
This will help me understand the meaningful activities and semantic avenues that derive from them.

Getting Speed

Introducing the project to UID

The week started with a public presentation at Umeå Institute of Design. Each student gave an introduction of their
degree project to the rest of the school, presenting their subjects, sponsors and work plan.


Tutoring

We also had the first moments with the class tutor, Mattias Andersson. Each of the Interaction students had some
minutes with him to explain the subject and get the first feedback. In my case the main issue raised is the amplitude
of the subject, where I can easily get lost in research or analysing data. It's too vast and I need to narrow down
urgently.

One other suggestion given by Mattias was the production of a Design Brief as soon as possible to guide the develop-
ment of the project, something to stick to during the process.


Struggling

That's where my struggles begin. I started unfolding the subject of Mapping Experiences and both components of
the project can be unfolded ad infinitum. I need to have a grasp of the limits of this subject before I can slice it, so
that I can be more confident of making a well informed decision. So I started brainstorming on my own the activities
or verbs associated with maps. Then I grouped these verbs in clusters, giving them labels. From each verb I made
a list of entities that go with it, for example: explore >> new places, old places, your own home, your
neighborhood etc.

 

 

Collecting stories

Besides this understanding of the context of Mapping Experiences, I started collecting stories of Umeå from its inha-
bitants. I've been interviewing people at school and tomorrow (Sunday) I'll collect some interviews at the BildMuseet
where they are currently displaying an exhibition about Maps called Mapping the Contemporary.


Benchmarking

The other activity being conducted is the search and analysis of some services that deal with geo location and
mapping. After the first "Oh my, everything has been already done" reaction, I can learn from these services
exploring the differences between what they offer and what I want to propose as well as build on top of what
has been achieved so far. One website called Olet Tässä - Helsinki [You are here - Helsinki] offers an interesting
platform for experience sharing, and I have already built a site map of it with some help from Katri Niemi, doing the
translation. One other, Nokia Vine was shown to me by my classmate Mikko, but I still haven't taken a deeper look.
Below, on the links session, you can find access to both services.

 

 

Breakfast Club

This week I was also invited to participate in a discussion group with other students (Ru Zarin, Ulrik Svenningsen and
Rahul Sen) also doing degree projects. We decided to meet once a week and help each other to keep on track, giving
feedback and looking at each other's struggles with outsider's eyes. The first session was very good, with many drifts
away from the subject, but still under the big design umbrella.

Looking Ahead

I take inspiration in a fabulous book called The Atlas of Experience, and right now, I can find there my current location,
beind in the middle of the Mountains of Work. I am still finalizing the user questionnaire to send around and this coming
week I will use the categories to do some card sorting about maps with both Designers and Cartographers to identify
similarities and differences in the understanding of these information devices.

 

>> I am here article on Wired
>> 10 applications for mobile GPS enabled devices (Wired)
>> There's so much data available, what would users like to know?
>> A classic map revisited by Vignelli
>> Augmented reality in locative media
>> Nokia Vines Map
>> You are Here - Helsinki (only Finnish)

 

Found II, edited by Davy RothBart
Envisioning Information, by Edward Tufte
Visual Explanations, by Edward Tufte
The anthropology of experience, by Edward M. Bruner.
The image of the city, by Kevin Lynch

Songlines, by Bruce Chatwin.
The atlas of Experience, Louise van Swaaij and Jean Klare


Official Start

It's time. Last week I officially started my degree project in the Design Institute here in Umeå. I'll be working with maps,
an old passion that since I left home, moving here to the top of the world, have helped me keep track of the trips and
learn about the new places. These tools have become sort of personal diaries with the annotations over them, marking
where I've been and what I have done.

In this big real of cartography, I'll be especifically Mapping Experiences. The project discusses how new locative media
technologies impact the process of map making and give regular people the power to generate maps both individually
and communally through web 2.0 services. But the spaces mapped carry layers of information and meaning that are not
currently displayed in most purely geographical mapping. The project investigates the relationship between people and
space by the creation of digital annotations in space of individual or group experiences.

Technical and road maps are still instruments of knowledge, control and power. Many of the technologies that are now
available to the public have their roots in military research. Precision, accountability and reliability were always issues
in maps. This quest for precision inspired writers and philosophers in the past, notably Jorge Luis Borges with his
“On Exactitude in Science” or “On Rigor in Science” (the original Spanish-language title is “Del rigor en la ciencia”). In
the same line of though, “The map is not the territory” is a remark by Alfred Korzybski, encapsulating his view that an
abstraction derived from something, or a reaction to it, is not the thing itself.

It is very interesting then to investigate how the rational system of coordinates is used to link to irrational, emotional
aspects of life instead of cold labels or services. [read the full project description]

This first week, besides re-organizing my life at school and in the city, I have been reading and trying to understand
what is experience. I have been reading a book called "The anthropology of experience" edited by Edward M. Bruner.
Other readings have been "The image of the city" by Kevin Lynch and Songlines, by Bruce Chatwin.

One interesting insight is the difference between experience and an experience. While the former relates more to the
knowledge obtained from life, the latter means
more a remarkable instant or event that people go through.

The picture below represents one strong experience I have been through in Scandinavia. The clock reads 00.00h and
the sky is still blue. Welcome to the summer at 63° N. What have been your strongest experiences related to specific
places? How would you express it ?