urban tapestries


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Urban Tapestries is a Proboscis research project exploring social and cultural uses of the convergence of place and mobile technologies. It builds upon previous projects such as Private Reveries, Public Spaces and Sonic Geographies and is part of our Species of Spaces research theme under the SoMa research programme.

Urban Tapestries Software Platform

System Development
The Urban Tapestries software platform has now been completely re-written and we are in the process of integrating and alpha testing the new web interface. The new system will make available much of the complete functionality and features researched and proposed over the last two years, as well as separate logging and analysis of patterns and usage that will be accessible to users.

Web Interface
A fully featured web client is in the last stages of completion and alpha testingA period of beta testing during May will see additional features and functionality gradually brought online with the aim of launching public access to the new web interface in mid-June to coincide with the launch of Architecture Week 2005.

New Java Mobile Client
Proboscis has begun development of a new generic Java client for mobile devices, with versions prepared initially for two devices the Orange SPV M2000 (GPRS/WiFi/Windows Mobile OS) and the Motorola A1000 (3G/Symbian UIQ OS). We anticipate have prototypes working in June 2005 for a series of small field trials running throughout the remainder of the year.

Social Tapestries

Research Affiliates Scheme
Proboscis has established a new membership based scheme as a forum for bringing the results of the Social Tapestries experiments to relevant government and industry organisations. This forum will additionally support some of the experiments and bring together representatives from business and the public sector to both learn from our research and help define future directions.
There are three levels (bronze, silver, gold) with varying access to private research reports, Creative Labs, Bodystorming Experiences and observing trials and tests.
For further details please contact Giles Lane [giles at]

Proboscis is continuing to develop a series of Social Tapestries experiments:

Architecture Week 2005
Proboscis is collaborating with Arts Council England to launch the new version of Urban Tapestries in June 2005 with a series of commissioned architectural 'tours' through London. The Ordnance Survey has provided 100square kilometres of geographic information covering the whole of Central London, and we will be experimenting with both traditional drawn maps and satellite photographs overlaid with the pockets and threads created by the participants. This 'trial' will mark our largest so far, with members of the public invited to register for an account and to be able to author their own threads as well as view ones created by others through the new web interface. During Architecture Week itself, we also hope to run a small trial with a group of people with physical impairments mapping access issues and barriers in the city.

Feral Robots
The Visiting Fellowship by Natalie Jeremijenko, Robotic Feral Public Authoring, continues to develop apace. The experiment is attempting to bridge Urban Tapestries' spatial annotation abilities with Natalie's re-configurations of toy robots for social activist uses such as pollution sensing.The Fellowship is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Our collaboration is with EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Lausanne, with whom we will be using UT to study semantic models for spatialised communications among groups, is also developing. EPFL intend to develop a smart algorithm for improving the ability of systems like UT to alert users to geo-annotations relevant to their context and situation.

Eyes on the Street
Proboscis is developing a project with the Community Development Foundation and Citizens Online to develop issues of neighbourliness in social housing and community safety, looking at the potential of public authoring technologies like Urban Tapestries to create new modes of local knowledge creation and exchange, and its implications for community development.

Neighbourhood Games
John Paul Bichard is developing a research scenario and prototype for social gaming based around the concepts and capabilities of public authoring.

Nick West is developing a research scenario and prototype for a car-based audio annotation system.



Urban Tapestries was conceived, initiated and is being developed by Proboscis.
Partners: France Telecom R&D, Orange, Ordnance Survey and MEDIA@LSE (London School of Economics).
Funders (UT): UK Department of Trade and Industry, Arts Council England and Daniel Langlois Foundation.
Funders (ST): Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Creative Partnerships Hull and EPSRC.
Collaborators: Hewlett-Packard Labs and Locustworld.
Support has also been received from: Apple Computer UK, Garbe (UK) Ltd
& Sony Europe.

Urban Tapestries is led by Giles Lane with a core team of Alice Angus, John Paul Bichard and Nick West.
The current team includes: Michael Golembewski, Paul Makepeace, George Papamarkos, Sarah Thelwall and Zoe Sujon.
Project Alumni: Daniel Angus, Huw Jeffries, Katrina Jungnickel, Rachel Murphy, Victoria Peckett, Nigel Palmer and James Wilkes.

Proboscis is a non-profit creative studio and think tank which researches, develops and facilitates innovation, led by Alice Angus and Giles Lane. Proboscis conceived, initiated and is developing Urban Tapestries as the lead partner in the collaboration.

France Telecom R&D are working with Proboscis and Orange to build the client application for Symbian UIQ mobile phones, starting with the Sony Ericsson P800 & P900.
>France Telecom R&D

Professor Roger Silverstone is supervising a social research project conducted by research assistant and doctoral candidate Zoe Sujon. This 'experimental ethnography' investigates social and cultural constructions of community knowledge and public authoring in the context of wireless communications networks.

Proboscis is working with Orange's Prophecy and Consumer Experience Teams on Urban Tapestries: researching user experiences of mobile authoring, porting the client application to mobile phones, integrating GPRS access as well as exploring location sensing technologies based on mobile networks.

Proboscis and the Research and Innovation Unit of the Ordnance Survey are collaborating on exploring new forms of mapping using Urban Tapestries as a research test-bed.
>OS R&I website


Urban Tapestries is being developed by Proboscis as part of the Department of Trade and Industry-funded City and Buildings Centre led by Phil Stenton at HP Labs, Bristol (part of the Next Wave Technologies and Markets programme).
>Mobile Bristol

Locustworld are working with Proboscis on using their their MeshAP ad hoc networking system to provide temporary and mobile 802.11b wireless networks for trials and tests.



ACE's Collaborative Arts Unit supported Urban Tapestries through funding of the Creative Lab and prototype development (2003).
>Collaborative Arts

The Foundation is supporting the Social Tapestries research project through its Social Policy programme (2004/05).
>Gulbenkian Foundation UK Branch

CP Hull supported a Social Tapestries experiment with Kingswood School near Hull (2004).
>CP Hull

The Foundation supported Urban Tapestries through a grant award (2003).
>Daniel Langlois Foundation

Urban Tapestries was funded by the DTI through the Next Wave Technologies and Markets programme to build the prototype system (2003/04).
>Next Wave Technologies & Markets

The EPSRC is supporting Natalie Jeremijenko's Visiting Fellowship (a Social Tapestries experiment) in 2004/05.


Apple have supported Urban Tapestries with equipment loans for the user trial.
>Apple UK website

Garbe UK provided a headquarters in the magnificently refurbished Victoria House for the December 2003 Public Trial, overlooking Bloomsbury Square in London, WC1.
>Victoria House

Sony have provided Clie devices for testing.
>Sony Clie website



Giles Lane is the founder of Proboscis and directs the research programme SoMa (social matrices). He is an Associate Research Fellow at the London School of Economics MEDIA@LSE programme, and was Research Fellow in Communication Art & Design at the Royal College of Art (2001-2002). Prior to that he was Writer, Editor & Curator to the Computer Related Design Research Studio at the Royal College of Art where he commissioned and published 5 books for the RCA CRD RESEARCH imprint and curated two exhibition projects: This Appliance Must be Earthed and Click Forward Online Films. Giles was founder and editor of COIL journal of the moving image (1995-2000) and editor of Mapping Perception, a book and CD-ROM accompanying the science-art project. Giles co-authored (with Paul Farrington) Interactive: the internet for graphic designers (Rotovision 2002). Giles has initiated and managed many of Proboscis’ projects including: Mapping Perception, Private Reveries, Public Spaces, Urban Tapestries, Sonic Geographies, DIFFUSION eBooks, COIL and Topologies. He leads Proboscis’ consultancy projects including work for IDEO London, Rotovison, NESTA and the Arts Council of England.

Alice is Co-Director of Proboscis. As part of the SoMa research programme she is leading the LIQUID GEOGRAPHIES theme and is involved in the development of Sonic Geographies. She is co-curator of Private Reveries, Public Spaces. As part of Proboscis' Topologies initiative she is currently working on Navigating History – major project placing artists, designers and other practitioners in the local history archives of libraries in the South of England. Alice was Visual arts Consultant and Producer for Gala Scotland Ltd, organisers of Glasgay! Festival for whom she curated, managed and fund-raised for exhibitions in association with the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow. She is former Programme Manager and Acting Director for Fotofeis, the Biennial International Festival of Photo Based Arts held across Scotland to audiences of over 500,000, and was responsible for the teams delivering the overall programme. She is also editor of (Re)visions of Sex the book that accompanied Fotofeis 97. She has also been involved producing and managing a variety of new media and arts related projects, publications and consultancies including several years as a Director of New Visions Experimental Film Video and New Media and producing Glasgow School of Fine Art's events and conferences programme as well as the resulting anthologies Random Access I & II (Rivers Oram Press, 1995 & 1996). She holds an MA Fine Art from Glasgow School of Art.

John has been creating solutions for the games, arts and mobile technology industries for over a decade, holding directorships in two digital games/media companies for 5 years. He is currently a systems consultant to the mobile technology consultancy Unwired Stuff. Unwired Stuff have strong links with T-mobile and Orange and are the group who put together Virgin Mobile. John was recently consultant designer to a major TV brand (Ragdoll, makers of the Teletubbies) as one of three international games designers commissioned to initiate their new game project. His other projects include:
Interactive design consultant to Virgin Mobile's Advanced Wireless Technologies Group, the team that set up Virgin Mobile as an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). This included researching and developing test applications for the then emerging WAP technologies. Games design consultant to a working party comprising Jennic and Unwired Stuff in developing ARM co-processors for a 3G mobile phone consortium (since disbanded). Public Reveries, Private Spaces – commissioned by Proboscis/Royal College of Art to develop Firewall: convergent technologies research project. Designing and developing online games campaigns for Pokemon the Movie, SouthPark the Movie, Grand Theft Auto 2, Oni and Thomas the Tank Engine. Collaborating with 8 artists in 1996 to develop and produce the UK's first games-based CD ROM by artists. This was exhibited in 8 major UK galleries including the Institute of Contemporary Arts and was sold to the Museum of Modern Art in NY.
>Personal Website

Nick West is a New Media Researcher who focuses on the interplay between interactive technologies and the surrounding physical environment. As an Adjunct Professor at New York University, Nick managed a research project for Viacom that investigated the feasibility of viewing location-triggered websites on portable wireless devices. As a Visiting Scholar with the National Fine Arts Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Nick designed travelling museum exhibits utilizing Global Positioning Satellite technology. Nick also has extensive experience in designing for interactive television. At Apple Computer, he was co-inventor of a number of patented interfaces for interactive TV. As Manager of a joint research project for New York University and New York’s regional phone company, Nick investigated building location-based virtual communities via a live interactive TV show, which was broadcast weekly on Manhattan Cable TV. Nick presented his research results at several conferences throughout Europe and North America. Nick has a B.A. in Political and Economic Systems from Yale University, and a Masters Degree in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University.


Michael is a recent MA graduate of the Royal College Art in Interaction Design.

Dikaios is a computer scientist and PhD student in the department of Computing at Birkbeck College, University of London. Dikaios is developing the new Urban Tapestries Java mobile client.

George is a computer scientist and PhD student in the department of Computing at Birkbeck College, University of London. George is developing the new Urban Tapestries system architecture and structure.

Zoe is a third year PhD candidate in the Media & Communications Department (MEDIA@LSE) at the London School of Economics where her research topic is: Technological Citizenship and The Cultural Politics of Belonging. Zoe received her BA and MA in Sociology at Carlton University, Canada.

Sarah is a business strategist specialising in creative industries. Sarah is leading the development of the Social Tapestries Research Affiliates Scheme as well as actual experiments and projects.

Other location-based and wireless projects (in no particular order):

Mobile Bristol Neighbourhood Markup Language
Locustworld Annotate Space
Consume NYCWireless
GeoNotes ActiveCampus
OpenGIS Consortium spacenamespace
Thingster Headmap
GiMoDig Geograffiti
Familiar Stranger Urban Atmospheres
34 North 118 West Parkbenchtv
Place Lab WebPark
shapeWALKS WiFiFoFum
Semacode Dodgeball
tag and scan murmur toronto
Cellspotting mupe
4G Systems Stanza the central city
Aula Orange Lab

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