urban tapestries


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Public Authoring in the Wireless City
Urban Tapestries is a Proboscis project exploring social and cultural uses of the convergence of place and mobile technologies through transdisciplinary research. To help us model emerging social and cultural behaviours we have built an experimental platform that allows people to author and access place-based content (text, audio and pictures). It is a framework
for exploring and sharing experience and knowledge, for leaving and annotating ephemeral traces of peoples’ presence in the geography of the city.

The Urban Tapestries software platform allows people to author their own virtual annotations of the city, enabling a community’s collective memory to grow organically, allowing ordinary citizens to embed social knowledge in the new wireless landscape of the city. People can add new locations, location content and the ‘threads’ which link individual locations to local contexts, which are accessed via handheld devices such as PDAs and mobile phones.

Urban Tapestries seeks to understand why people would use emerging pervasive technologies, what they could do with them and how we can make this possible. It seeks to enable people as their own authors and agents, not merely as consumers of content provided to them by telecoms and media corporations. The project centres on a fundamental human desire to ‘map’ and 'mark’ territory as part of belonging and of feeling a sense of ownership of our environment.

Two animations have been developed to walk through some sample scenarios of use: 1 & 2.

Proboscis has run two trials of our prototypes: a 4 week field trial of the mobile phone prototype across central London (June 2004); and a public trial of the initial prototype in the Bloomsbury district of London (December 2003). Participant feedback, evaluation and a discussion forum can all be found on the project weblog.

In October 2004 we released RSS Feeds for the system allowing people to subscribe to content created by individual authors, threads, as well as to create their own custom feed within a radius (100m, 500m, 1km or 5km) or a geographic place of their choosing (within the area covered by our trials). Proboscis has also released a Flash Web Browser (requires registration) providing a graphical interface to the system.
*Take part in our discussion forum on public authoring here.

UT Threads Set 2004
a map of threads created during the trials
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