WhereCampEU 2011 recap & berlin psychogeography

Last week in Berlin I was lucky enough to go to WhereCampEU – thanks to Gary and Chris for organising this wonderful unconference. The conference was held in a trendy hipster ish part of the city, but which had also, I heard, the highest number of young families and births. It was also in the former Eastern part of the city. It gave the area a nice appeal, overall.

photo by Chris Fleming

I did a couple of sessions, one on a preview of GeoCommons2.0  talked about in a previous post and the other a psychogeography session. For the psychogeography session I sent four teams out to explore the environs around the campus.

One team followed people around. They said “I’m amazed by how slowly some people moved” and “Well, often we followed someone and then they would wander into a book shop”  – revealing the nature of the people and the type of area, bohem style cafes and shops, lazily people.

Another group were sent to ask people to point to were the centre of Berlin was. I asked some people where they thought was the centre, and most of them scratched their chins, and pointed to the Mitte area of the city, usually on the map, or waved southwards. Part of a consequence of being a split city, really. The western bit, someone said, “looks and feels more like a CBD” – that is, big shops, tall towers etc. I did venture to the former western CBD centre, and came across a mile long car show. This area was where the money was.

The other group was sent to walk around the area according to the Game of Life algorithm, Left left Right where you walk and take the first left, then the second left, then the next right, and so on. It’s impossible to predict where you will end up. I joined this group. We had a good explore over a small area, really, but encountering a lot of different environments. Shared (private) gardens / courtyards in the middle of apartment blocks, churches, cafes, and shops.

The fourth team were given a secret mission, and so I cannot reveal to you what they did. However, they are all in good health, and saw the city in a new light.

Photo by Chris Fleming

Back to the unconference, and some of the highlights were:

* Playing the Skobbler game, treasure hunting for addresses in the neighbourhood.

* Seeing offmaps evolve over the year. I’ve not got an iPhone, but that app looked very nice.

* Spatial databases, and in particular CouchDb – and their spatial bits

* CASA did a few talks – I’m getting more and more fond of their work – if anything they really seem to love the stuff they are doing – they share the same vision as me as giving GI tools and benefits to as many people as possible.

* Peter Batty wore an ipad t-shirt – and gave a great presentation about essentially putting utilities information onto a Gmaps like interface and mobile map.

* Gary Gale gave a compelling reason for standardizing place. And it makes sense.

* Meeting the NomadLabs guys for the first time, and being able to say “Thank You” for their work on Ruby on Rails GIS Hacks that I found very useful 4 years ago!

* Corridor talk, beer and food

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Henry Miller on Seeing a Place

From “The Eye of Paris” in The Wisdom of the Heart – Henry Miller, 1941, New Directions:

Now and then, in wandering through the streets, suddenly one comes awake, perceives with a strange exultation that he is moving through an absolutely fresh sliver of reality. Everything has the quality of the marvelous – the murky windows, the rain-sodden vegetables, the contours of the houses, the bill-posters, the slumping figures of men and women, the tin soldiers in the stationery shops,  the colors of the walls – everything written down in an unfamiliar script. After the moment of ecstasy has passed what is one’s amazement but to discover that the street through which he is walking with eyes popping is the street on which he lives. He has simply come upon it unaware, from the wrong end perhaps. Or, moving out of the confines of an unknown region, the sense of wonder and mystery prolonged itself in defiance of reality. It is as if the eye itself had been freshened, as if it had forgotten all that it had been taught. In this condition it happens that one really does see things he had never seen before –  not the fantastic, harrowing, hallucinating objects of dream or drug, but the most banal, the most commonplace things, seen as it were for the first time.

Sticks & Booze – Beating the Bounds in Headingley

About 25 people turned up for a Beating the Bounds psychogeographical walk around the Headingley (Leeds, UK) DPPO Boundary.  It was run by me and the Leeds Psychgeography Group. Tina runs and blogs about the group, and there’s a Leeds Psychogeography Group Facebook Page to boot.  All photos here were taken by Mark Jaffé, cheers!

A DPPO stands for a Designated Public Place Order. Essentially within that area, if you are causing a nuisance or annoyance, a police constable can stop you drinking, confiscate booze, up end cans etc. If you don’t comply then that is when you may be breaking the law. It’s a law to stop street drinkers mainly. In the Hyde Park and Woodhouse DPPO area, well over 80%  (over 300 in a few months) of people stopped, were students. Phil Kirby went on the first of the Beating the Bounds walks, and has blogged about it on The Culture Vulture.

We were to talk widdershins, anti-clockwise around the boundary – a magical act, designed to disperse any energies or what have you. I brought along some sticks (loop cane, chopped in half) for people to beat the ground at certain points. Oh, and we drank as we went – essentially beating the restrictions.

We passed through some nice areas – here on the ridge, was the Wassailing tree. We also encountered the strangest plot of land in Headingley, fish and chips and had assorted adventutres.

Games developed, whereby when a DPPO warning sign was found, a drink had to be taken.

It took about 2 hours. I was quite tipsy at the end. in the above picture, we can see a stick being used in it’s traditional role of beating a boy.

I’ll be doing some more psychgeography posts in time. The next beating the bounds walk will go around the city centre – it’s a huge area!

Settle Mapping Party, Sat 15th May

Here follows a blog post that’s written like a press release, sorry.

A group of volunteers from around the North of England on Saturday 15th May 2010, will attempt to map the entire North Yorkshire town, from every street, bridge, footpath and chip shop – in order to create a free and open map of the town. All welcome, no experience or technology required!

The Association for Geographic Informations Northern Group and the OpenStreetMap Foundation are running a mapping party – a cross between an informal fieldtrip and a hands on workshop. OpenStreetMap is the wikipedia of maps – it’s open, free and anyone can edit and contribute.

Organiser Tim Waters said: “OSM aims to create free geographic data, like street maps, that can be used by anyone, anywhere, and over the Saturday we aim to have a complete map of the streets of Settle and many other features in the town.”

With the announcement of the Ordnance Survey releasing a lot of mid scale mapping data for free, the chances of having a top notch detailed map is greater than ever. By making a free and open map, anyone can edit and correct details, making sure the map stays up to date and relevant. It’s also free to copy and change and distribute, which is impossible to do with almost every other map.

Anyone and everyone is welcome to attend, families and children are also welcome! No previous experience needed, and no GPS units needed either. GPS units will be available for people to borrow, but people can contribute a lot by using a pen and paper. It’s an open organisation with no membership requirements.

People will start assembling at 10 – 10:30 a.m at Ye Olde Naked Man cafe in Settle’s central Market Place, and spend the morning mapping the area. Then they will come back and have some lunch, meeting at 1pm at Thirteen Cafe Bar and either head out again to fill in the gaps, or start editing their notes into the map system. The day comes to an end around half 3pm to 5pm, where volunteers recap on the days mapping, and have a natter over a pint of beer

More information to sign up:

http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Settle_Mapping_Party

http://www.agi.org.uk/north/

Platial – some lucky pennies

So one of the original poster childs of neogeography has folded – Platial have bit the dust! Geocommons have rescued some of the data (but I still couldn’t find my pennies there yet).

Way back in 2007, I used Platial for recording where I found lucky pennies on the streets. (Nowadays I use Flickr to record lucky pennies)

A year later, and 2008 saw Platial awarding me a StoryTelling Award – a t-shirt which I’m currently wearing whilst writing this post.

You can get the Lucky Pennies Map as a KMZ, or maybe from the page on Platial itself, but that page won’t be around forever.

WhereCampEU is a go! March 12-13 London.

We’re having a European WhereCamp in March 2010 – its in London!  The venue is the Guardian offices! It will be excellent!

WhereCampEU is a free unconference for geohackers, mappers, developers, mobile location folks, augmented reality enthusiasts, traditional geographers, neogeographers, psychogeographers, cartography geeks, romantic mappers and geo-hippies  (amongst others!).

Register now for early bird tickets!

Follow the twitter account at @wherecampeu and keep an eye with your RSS readers on http://wherecamp.eu/

If you would like to be a sponsor, and we’d like that very much please contact me at: tim@wherecamp.eu

just some words

Before a few posts about Psychogeography in Leeds here are some nice words:

geo-tagging
guided walks
volunteered geographic information
ephemeral cities
social history
short cuts
psychology
imaginary urbanism
altered maps/radical cartography
travel writing
psychogeography
marxism
place based photo blogging
urban exploration
site specific sculpture
land/earth art
neogeography
old maps
architecture
situationism
hauntings
green space
performance art

mainly ripped off from neogeography.net

Leeds OurMusic OurCity Launch & Tour

The day after UnSheffield (which was very good,  some people have some further thoughts on the format) I popped along to the launch of Our City Our Music, rather embarrassingly still wearing my large-logo’d OSM t-shirt!

The Our City Our Music launch comprised of the Saturday night with bands playing (which I missed, due to Sheffield) and on Sunday, the tour, at NTI Leeds / Old Broadcasting House.

Our City, Our Music will be a location-based album on the streets.  Its first project will be realised in Leeds and experienced using Global Positioning enabled handheld devices.  It uses mscape software developed by Hewlett-Packard, which packs up audio and media files with GPS into one platform.  Therefore it provides the opportunity for located experiences, in our case music videos filmed on location, re-experienced in situ using a handheld device.

The goals of the project are to support emerging musicians and filmmakers to create the content of the album, to create an archive of  local talent, and to encourage people to explore the city through music and narration

our city our music outside OBH

Using HP Mscape platform, and some nice headphones, people could wander around two areas of Leeds, and discover the sounds and watch music videos. The music were written with the locations in mind, and can only be seen on the devices, when you are in the very same locations where the music videos were taken. V. Good.

Two tours were taken during the day, I went on the one through city, which lasted a good hour, and we walked throughout the City. It was quite a nice wander, chatted with a fellow geographer and had a bit of a psychogeographical look at this City.

our city our music in millenium square leeds

They plan on porting the software to run on windows mobile devices, and possibly make a web based version of it too.

The team, Ben, Ben and Megan were supported by the b.Tween. They used OpenStreetMap  on the units themselves, and on the supporting paper map guides.