[ISEA2008] Viktor Bedö – The Many Faces of Interactive Urban Maps



While the internet allows communities to form and knowledge to flow, independently from geographical space, recent research on mobile communication suggests that knowledge of a primarily practical nature remains location-sensitive. The widespread use of mobile
communication devices, especially in urban environments, blurs the boundaries between information space and physical space; the concept of cyberspace is replaced by the concept of hybrid space. Technically speaking, every digital object or every person using or carrying an ICT device can be tracked, tagged and so mapped. But what exactly do we want to track or map? Location-sensitivity is not only about knowing geographical location but also about how much geographical location matters, for example, in providing a context or in forming an interpretational framework. Very little is known, however, about how we can determine the level of location-sensitivity of a given piece of information. This paper suggests that interactive maps of hybrid urban space are a means of getting to grips with this problem. The maps implemented in social software, such as in Plazes, or spatial annotation software, as with denCity, can be considered to be prototypes of location-sensitive maps. They do more than merely trace people or messages. They are communication tools that enable city dwellers to generate and share information that can not be dissociated from urban space. They trigger new forms of urban self-organization through real-time feedback between user communities and individuals. The focus of my presentation is on maps as a visual means to give us a better understanding of the nature of location-sensitive information; the dynamics of spatio-temporal distribution of information, such as messages and comments plotted on the map, suggest the level of their location-sensitivity. The interpretation of the spatio-temporal dynamics of these marks and the identification of an emerging order is a task that is analogous to scientific discovery with the help of visual instruments.


Viktor Bedö Biography

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