Internet Geographer


Posts tagged virtual
Augmented Reality Visualisations
Frog design recently released some nice visualisations of what augmented realities might look and feel like in a decade. It is interesting that none of the people in the images are using any sort of visible access device. One can only assume that augmented reality equipped contacts or eye glasses that are serving as the link between the material and virtual.

I see potential parallels here to the relatively recent trend of people holding phone conversations in public through hands-free wireless headsets. The act of physically holding a mobile phone usually serves a signifier that a conversation in public space is taking place non-proximately. Without the phone (or at least the act of holding the phone), it is often unclear if the caller is speaking to me, someone else in the same place, or someone on the other side of the world.

The kinds of augmented realities offered in these images are similarly enacted without devices that can act as signifiers that the user is engaging with non-proximate, or virtual, information. Will this mean that, relatively soon, we will start to see people stop in the middle of a street and wave their arms and point their fingers (see the first image) at interfaces that are invisible to the naked eye?

Neogeography and the Palimpsests of Place: Web 2.0 and the Construction of a Virtual Earth

My article accepted to the Journal of Economic and Social Geography (Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie) entitled “Neogeography and the Palimpsests of Place: Web 2.0 and the Construction of a Virtual Earth” has just been published online. The print version should appear in volume 101 or 102 of the journal early next year. A pre-publication version is available at the following link, and feel free to email me for the final version of the article. The abstract is as follows:

Places have always been palimpsests. The contemporary is constantly being constructed upon the foundations of the old. Yet only recently has place begun to take on an entirely new dimension. Millions of places are being represented in cyberspace by a labor force of hundreds of thousands of writers, cartographers, and artists. This article traces the history and geography of virtual places. The virtual Earth is not a simple mirror of its physical counterpart, but is instead characterized by both black holes of information and hubs of rich description and detail. The tens of millions of places represented virtually are part of a worldwide engineering project that is unprecedented in scale or scope and made possible by contemporary Web 2.0 technologies. The virtual Earth that has been constructed is more than just a collection of digital maps, images, and articles that have been uploaded into Web 2.0 cyberspaces; it is instead a fluid and malleable alternate dimension that both influences and is influenced by the physical world.

GPS Real-World Gaming in Hybrid Space
A real-time, multiplayer, GPS game for mobiles is being played out in the real-world. The game, played by groups of four or five people, uses a one kilometer radius around any point on Earth to delineate spatial extents in which three or four chasers try to capture one runner. Each one of the players is tracked via a GPS phone and their coordinates are mashed onto a map that they can all see. The only twist that that the runner is always allowed to view the map, whilst the chasers only have access to the map every six minutes. The game is a fascinating way to roll elements of the physical and virtual together into an adrenaline-pumped experience.

What’s next? Fast Foot Challenge is essentially a high-tech version of tag. But, more complex games combining the physical and virtual worlds are already starting to appear. A variety of shoot-em-ups in which the mobile phone is used as a gun have been designed, and it seems only a matter of time until we start seeing a lot more of the Earth and our daily lived environments being used as a setting for interactive games. Let’s just hope we don’t ever see Grand Theft Auto ported over into real cars in the real world.
Invisible Geographies: The Street as Platform

A nicely written quote about invisible geographies, hybrid physical/virtual spaces, and urban data streams from the City of Sound blog:

The way the street feels may soon be defined by what cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Imagine film of a normal street right now, a relatively busy crossroads at 9AM taken from a vantage point high above the street, looking down at an angle as if from a CCTV camera. We can see several buildings, a dozen cars, and quite a few people, pavements dotted with street furniture.

Freeze the frame, and scrub the film backwards and forwards a little, observing the physical activity on the street. But what can’t we see?


We can’t see how the street is immersed in a twitching, pulsing cloud of data. This is over and above the well-established electromagnetic radiation, crackles of static, radio waves conveying radio and television broadcasts in digital and analogue forms, police voice traffic. This is a new kind of data, collective and individual, aggregated and discrete, open and closed, constantly logging impossibly detailed patterns of behaviour. The behaviour of the street.”