Success! In this week’s Urban Tapestries trial, I actually discovered something of interest.
I discovered that architectural hero Cedric Price’s old office is around the corner from where I live, and opposite the Imagination Building on Store St (about which I’d added a note myself). That is a great discovery!
Here is frustration with the Urban Tapestries concept thus far too, as that ‘pocket’ of data regarding Cedric Price could have been usefully linked to mine regarding the Imagination building – via a tenuous Archigram link. Ron Herron designed the Imagination Building; Ron Herron was a member of Archigram; Archigram were hugely influenced by the work of Cedric Price etc. I’d categorised my pocket regarding Imagination Building under a ‘thread’ called "architecture". The Cedric Price pocket had been filed under the somewhat oblique thread name "species of spaces" (after Perec?). The Urban Tapestries software can make no possible connection between these two potentially related entries; and users can make no possible connections either, due to not being able to sensibly browse other existing thread names before choosing a thread name for their pocket.
To be fair, I haven’t been able to spend much time Urban Tapestrying … I haven’t wound it into my daily life of objects; I just haven’t felt the urge to use it much. I guess I’m struggling with the device’s mixture of latent utility and idle browsing pleasure. The ‘drift’ alluded to (presumably drawn from the Situationist notion of dérive) generally doesn’t fit into a busy multitasked life as a plausible activity – the real drift is more of a side effect of activity than an activity in its own right. Given that we can’t all be Guy Debord. Thankfully. The sense of following someone’s thread doesn’t really equate to the dérive – a true drift is less directed. Even the elements of chance involved in daily life (I don’t always walk the same way to work, even though it’s exactly the same A-to-B every day) still don’t quite fit with the active concentration required to fire up Urban Tapestries (on the extra P800 – honestly, the amount of personal tech in my bag is getting silly!). It somehow needs to be more seamless (consistent ID and functionality carried across all my devices rather than just one? Upload a simple marker to be re-edited later via a web interface/laptop?).
Though now I’ve found something genuinely interesting, things might change.
Connection time is still just too slow – again preventing frequent seamless interaction. I was loitering outside the British Museum in the middle of the night, trying to take a picture of the wondrous stone lions imperiously guarding its rear entrance, and my data would just not upload. It wasn’t somewhere I particularly wanted to hang around (the private gardens opposite are invisibly marked as some kind of late night drugs exchange). It finally uploaded, after many thwarted attempts at connecting, but it took ages. This happens too often for comfort – but hey, it’s a trial.
It’s often easier to sit at home and enter data – but if that was the point, it’d be a lot easier to sit at home and enter data via my laptop (full size keyboard, reliable connection, bigger screen etc.).
I also discovered an entry I made about Senate House in the previous trial (attributed to "utlt_44" or something) but was unable to edit it and add in a weblink to my post here on same. The map is already getting a bit clogged up with criss-crossing lines of information, with the result that it feels simultaneously impenetrable and compelling. Interesting.
Threads created since last time:
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