I’ve just come back from a very jolly week in Nottingham at the “Pervasive and Locative Arts Network” meeting – about 15-20 of us, most of us there all week.
This was a really interesting mix of artists and technologists interested in mapping, mobiles, GPS. The network is funded by EPSRC and the aim of the week was to try and create 3 or 4 possible proposals for future work, though there was no pressure to do anything in particular with those.
So we split into 3 groups and over the week came up with three ideas. One was about following GPS tracks made by other people and being able to play the music they played while they were moving along at the speed they were moving along (so if you were walking and they had been running it sounded fast to you; if you moved away from the track it was quieter etc). Amazingly they got it working with a PDA, GPS. They did a brilliant presentation with video examples and a system so we could have a go.
The second was based on some work by Christian Nold, who had made his own ‘lie detector’ and brought it with him. They were interested in making maps of a place with information such as ‘I feel good here’, sharing the info and visualising it in interesting ways. Again they used a PDA, bluetooth GPS and Christian’s sensor to create the maps – there are some pictures. I was very taken with their unusual visualisations of the data.
The group I was in was me, Steve Coast from openstreetmap and Mikel Maron who did the flash-based geodata viewer Worldkit.
I think it’s fair to say that Steve is obsessed with open map data, and openstreetmap have created a wiki where you can annotate maps with roads, based on GPS trails provided by individuals and – in London – by a courier company. Mikel’s toolkit can display any map and also any annotations on a map, taking as input geo-RSS1 or 2.
I made a little demo using worldkit, events in Bristol and the Skatemap basemap.
(that’s a bit crap; I could not develop much interactivity on this map currently because of a problem on mac with js and flash, but you could imagine selecting part of a map and getting a calendar view; or creating events or adding oneself to events using this interface, all ideas from the group).
Mikel got his stuff working with openstreetmap maps; and also working on a PDA and a rather specific type of mobile phone. He also did a map of flickr geo tags. Pictures and things are here.
Steve hacked up a geo rss aggregator which you can ask for a bounding box and it returns an rss2 feed of points and annotations within that – so that could be used with worldkit for example. An RDF version might be better – allowing better types of filtering; Jo Walsh has been working on something like this. Though most of the geo RSS data available is rss2.
A potential thing we might do is to to something for another PLAN thing – futuresonic in manchester in about 9 months time – it’s an art/music event with multiple locations, ‘spontaneous’ events as well as scheduled ones. I’d like to make something that allows people to create events, say they’re going, filter them by person, location etc etc. It all seems pretty doable (and to an extent has been done). I’ll probably try and hack something similar up for foaftown Bristol.
Anyhow, that’s a quick summary. More stuff is on the wiki
It was terrific to meet and work with such a diverse and creative group of people. I was particularly taken with Mika Raento‘s work with 2D barcodes and context-based moblogging for symbian series 60. I just love that kind of stuff and he let me have a play with it. It was a delight and an education to meet all of the people there and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next. Many thanks to Ben for inviting me; and Drew, Ben and Steve for facilitating.