Mapped: British, Spanish and Dutch Shipping 1750-1800

I recently stumbled upon a fascinating dataset which contains digitised information from the log books of ships (mostly from Britain, France, Spain and The Netherlands) sailing between 1750 and 1850. The creation of this dataset was completed as part of the Climatological Database for the World’s Oceans 1750-1850 (CLIWOC) project. The routes are plotted from the lat/long positions derived from the ships’ logs. I have played around with the original data a little to clean it up (I removed routes where there was a gap of over 1000km between known points, and only mapped to the year 1800). As you can see the British (above) and Spanish and Dutch (below) had very different trading priorities over this period. What fascinates me most about these maps is the thousands (if not millions) of man hours required to create them. Today we churn out digital spatial information all the time without thinking, but for each set of coordinates contained in these maps a ship and her crew had to sail there and someone had to work out a location without GPS or reliable charts.

These maps were produced with the latest version of R‘s ggplot2, maptools, geosphere and png packages. Formatting the data took the most work (it was a very large MS Access database). I used ggplot’s annotation_raster() to add the compass rose and title.

Update: For some nice animations and a much better critical analysis of the data see Ben Schmidts blog.

Peter Hall’s 80th Birthday

The UK Government has just rediscovered Garden Cities, in time for Peter’s 80th Birthday. Amazing how you can use computers to bake a birthday cake with Ebenezer Howards immortal diagram as motif. We sampled the cake in Malcolm Grant’s Room at UCL and the photo below is before the eating began.

Happy Birthday Peter, and Many More of Them 

Congratulations from your friends at CASA, Bartlett Planning and UCL

Two Human Geography Lectureships at Loughborough University, UK

Posts available from 1st September 2012; closing date 27 April 2012; salary range £32,900 to £44,165. 

The Department of Geography, which sits within the School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences, seeks to appoint two lecturers in human geography from 1st September 2012.  These posts are offered on standard open-ended contracts; they are not fixed-term posts.

Applicants with research and teaching specialisms within human geography are welcomed.  You will be expected to enhance the Department’s existing reputation for world-class, innovative scholarship and to contribute to the REF profile through individual and collaborative initiatives within the Centre for Research in Identity, Governance, Society. This Centre furthers British and international research agendas with two distinct strands focusing on ‘Geographies of Education and Learning’ and ‘Cities and States’.

Curriculum Vitae will only be accepted if accompanied by a completed University application form.

Further details and information on how to apply for the post can be found at: http://jobs.lboro.ac.uk/index.php?page=Details&id=1877

Informal enquiries: Professor Helen Rendell, Head of Department: H.M.Rendell@lboro.ac.uk; 01509 223729.  In addition, please feel free to contact any of our human geography staff.  We are a friendly and enthusiastic group at Loughborough, and any of us would be willing to tell you a little more about the Department.

Sarah Holloway

Prof. Human Geography,

Loughborough University,

Loughborough,

Leicestershire,

LE11 3TU

If you ever wanted to test drive a spatial interaction model, here’s your chance…

Hello blog, we haven’t seen each other for a while – I’ve been meaning to call, but you know how it is, just been so busy with work and all that…

What do you mean I only visit when I want to use you for something? That’s not fair, I do check up on you now and again, although you’ve been looking a little forlorn – like you’ve not been looking after yourself properly –  so I’ve kept my distance.

I’ve brought you a present though! I brand-spanking new re-hash of some work I did last year, but that’s been sitting on my hard drive waiting to be cobbled together into something approaching a paper…

The lovely folks at CASA have honoured it with working paper status, so if anyone wants a step-by-step guide of how to run a spatial interaction model in R, then this is the place to visit:

http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/casa/pdf/paper181

I know you like pictures, so before I go here’s a tasty little number from that very paper

Catching up with the World – a Hub for the UK

The defining airport for the last few decades has to be sent into retirement. Heathrow is at its capacity limit and with a growth expectations of only 1.5% also at its expansion limits. It has however, influenced largely airports around the world and was for many years the airport number one, both in terms of handling and standards.

Established in 1944 as a very big airfield and subsequently developed into the patchwork of extensions we see today. Terminal 5 being the latest completed addon, opened in 2008 and terminal 2 currently being under redevelopment. It serves as the Hub for the UK with 75 airlines flying to 170 destinations, Wikipedia. Interesting are the statistics, only about 11% are UK bound passengers, 43% are short-haul international passengers and 46% are long-haul international passengers.

Thames Hub airport proposal
Image by Foster + Partner taken from Dezeen / The new Thames Hub international airport proposal in the Thames Estuary to replace Heathrow by Foster + Partner and Halcrow.

It serves as a connection point between America and Asia as a stop over airport. With such a strategic location it is very valuable for business and trade and through passenger, business and fright it is the UK's connection to the world.

New and alternatives have been proposed over the last two decades. The problem really is not new. Officials and operatios have known about it for years. Options are to extend either Heathrow, the project is on the table for a third runway, or any of the other airports, second runways in Gatwick or Stansted as well as extending some of the smaller airfields around the capital. The other option is to build a new airport from scratch on the green field.

Thames Hub airport proposal
Image by Foster + Partner taken from telegraph.co.uk / The new Thames Hub international airport proposal in the Thames Estuary to replace Heathrow by Foster + Partner and Halcrow. The new Thames flood barrier is located strategically to the west of the airport proposal as an will regulate the water flow in and out of the Thames maximising the protected areas further up the river and at the same time serving as a tunnel for infrastructure to and from the airport but as a Thames crossing in general.

The green field option is the favourite currently since the private sector prefers the promis such a project bares that it has not the strings attached an extension might have in terms of legacy. The location currently in the spot light is the Thames Estuary,, being the least populated area in the South West potentially offering the opportunity for 24 hours operation whilst minimising the noise pollution over inhabited areas.

Several proposals have been put forwards including two floating airports. The latest proposal Thames Hub is put together as a private initiative by Fosters + Partners and economics consultants Halcrow. The proposal is nice and tidy, plausible and put forwards in a very rational manner. Fosters know how to do that sort of thing. THe firm has a lot of experience in delivering large international airport projects. They delivered Hong-Kong, Beijing and Terminal 5. Details on Wikipedia or a collection of images on Dezeen

The real interesting part of the project is not the airport but how they manage to tie it in with every other major infrastructure problem the UK currently faces. They claim to solve the problem for ports, rail water, flood defence, CO2 emissions, broadband and the imbalance between the north and south regions in the UK. If thats not an agenda!

Thames Hub airport proposal links across the UK and Europe
Thames Hub airport proposal links across the UK and Europe
Thames Hub airport proposal links across the UK and Europe
Image by Foster + Partner taken from the Atlantic Cities / The infrastructure side of the proposal extends right across the UK including links to main land Europe. From new high speed rail links (including visibility shields and integrated infrastructure media, water broadband and so on) and the proposed link across the Thames serving for flood defence, infrastructure and transport tunnel.

The project was presented at lecture evening at UCL by Sir Peter Hall, Huw Thomas from Foster + Partner and Andrew Price from Halcrow.

But its true, the UK actually faces a massively overaged infrastructure system that is constantly patched together poring in emergency funding to actually keep it going, but in no way to renew it. The country is in desperate need to renew these structures, but the real goal of course it to make the airport the essential piece of this task in order to build up enough pressure to get a tiny piece of the necessary changes actually built. This of course would be the airport.

cAKA_clockbank_2006-08-08.ai
Image by jafud / Proposal for a floating city in the Thames Estuary, including an international airport and a deep water access port for London. Developed by jafud 2006, the Bartlett. Part of this proposal was published in the book Cycles in Urban Environments: Investigating Temporal Rhythms
, by Fabian Neuhaus, 2010
.


Such an argumentation of course it no new strategy. Previous projects have tried to integrate new flood defence flood barriers for the Thames Gateway and ultimately London as part of a new International Airport in the Estuary. So for example Thames Reach Airport put forward in 2002, actually proposed more or less on the same location as the new Thames Hub by Foster + Partners. There was also the Thames Reach Airport project put forward in 2009. THere were however much older proposals for example the Maplin project proposed in the early 70s under the then prime minister Edward Heath. There are som many more including the ArKwAy project developed at the Bartlett's MSc Urban Design of a floating city in the Thames Estuary that would include a major new airport as well as a port. A very comprehensive summary is the parliament report Aviation:proposals for an airport in the Thames estuary, 1945-2012 - Commons Library Standard Note summarising the last 67 years of airport planning in the Thames Estuary.

Thames airport proposal 1934 outside parliament
Image taken from Skyscrapercity / Proposal for an airport above the Thames in the center of London just outside Parliement as published in Popular Science Monthly, March, 1934, p28.

The main problem is how the planning is done in the UK. As it is with pretty much all the large scale projects, the Government is doing nothing, it is the privat sector that is pushing it and finally delivering. The politicians have missed the opportunity 2003, ten years ago, because they could not decide. Now the new Government is also against everything and all options, but unable to come up with proposals for solutions.

This practice leaves the essentials and crucial UK infrastructure to be proposed, planned and delivered by the private sector. The result will be once more a cost effective business hybride that works, but is not at all innovative, nor is it ground braking or future proof. It will be just another quick fix, badly stitched together from pieces copied from examples from around the world (maybe UK companies have delivered them, but abroad they all work much better) and crucially it will be too late.

The private sector and comercial businesses can't be blamed. At least they deliver. It is not in their interest to look ahead when they are still busy maximising the profit they can squeeze out fo horribly run down but still profitable, with public money supported infrastructure pieces. To plan and organize a countries infrastructure, serving primarily its people should definitely be the governments business. They should be in charge of developing the strategies for the future, covering energy network and grid, transport infrastructure and communication networks as well as environment including disaster management and water security. Its a public job for the community to secure the essentials in a sustainable and future proof way definitely not a private sector job.

This does not mean the private sector can not deliver, nor pay for it. But the strategy has to be thought out an prepared by the politicians as a matter of national interest. However, this government is not gona do it, they privatise schools and the police force, why should they develop the national grid of infrastructure? Further more there is nothing that points towards the planning system being overhauled into this direction. The government will unveil plans to change the planning system very soon, according to an article on the BBC Planning system awaits overhaul in England, but its going exactly the other way. It will open the doors to planning free for all strengthening such private sector proposals and takeovers on a whole range of scales whilst at the same time again weakening any public authority's position. They are actively taking themselves out of the responsibility.

It is again in fact not far of the earlier example of crowd funding of projects on web platforms such as Spacehive as discussed earlier HERE. The new Hub for the UK will be built in a similar way. The first group that comes along saying the have the money to deliver it, will get the job, no matter what the project, nor which option they are proposing.

Catching up with the World – a Hub for the UK

The defining airport for the last few decades has to be sent into retirement. Heathrow is at its capacity limit and with a growth expectations of only 1.5% also at its expansion limits. It has however, influenced largely airports around the world and was for many years the airport number one, both in terms of handling and standards.

Established in 1944 as a very big airfield and subsequently developed into the patchwork of extensions we see today. Terminal 5 being the latest completed addon, opened in 2008 and terminal 2 currently being under redevelopment. It serves as the Hub for the UK with 75 airlines flying to 170 destinations, Wikipedia. Interesting are the statistics, only about 11% are UK bound passengers, 43% are short-haul international passengers and 46% are long-haul international passengers.

Thames Hub airport proposal
Image by Foster + Partner taken from Dezeen / The new Thames Hub international airport proposal in the Thames Estuary to replace Heathrow by Foster + Partner and Halcrow.

It serves as a connection point between America and Asia as a stop over airport. With such a strategic location it is very valuable for business and trade and through passenger, business and fright it is the UK's connection to the world.

New and alternatives have been proposed over the last two decades. The problem really is not new. Officials and operatios have known about it for years. Options are to extend either Heathrow, the project is on the table for a third runway, or any of the other airports, second runways in Gatwick or Stansted as well as extending some of the smaller airfields around the capital. The other option is to build a new airport from scratch on the green field.

Thames Hub airport proposal
Image by Foster + Partner taken from telegraph.co.uk / The new Thames Hub international airport proposal in the Thames Estuary to replace Heathrow by Foster + Partner and Halcrow. The new Thames flood barrier is located strategically to the west of the airport proposal as an will regulate the water flow in and out of the Thames maximising the protected areas further up the river and at the same time serving as a tunnel for infrastructure to and from the airport but as a Thames crossing in general.

The green field option is the favourite currently since the private sector prefers the promis such a project bares that it has not the strings attached an extension might have in terms of legacy. The location currently in the spot light is the Thames Estuary,, being the least populated area in the South West potentially offering the opportunity for 24 hours operation whilst minimising the noise pollution over inhabited areas.

Several proposals have been put forwards including two floating airports. The latest proposal Thames Hub is put together as a private initiative by Fosters + Partners and economics consultants Halcrow. The proposal is nice and tidy, plausible and put forwards in a very rational manner. Fosters know how to do that sort of thing. THe firm has a lot of experience in delivering large international airport projects. They delivered Hong-Kong, Beijing and Terminal 5. Details on Wikipedia or a collection of images on Dezeen

The real interesting part of the project is not the airport but how they manage to tie it in with every other major infrastructure problem the UK currently faces. They claim to solve the problem for ports, rail water, flood defence, CO2 emissions, broadband and the imbalance between the north and south regions in the UK. If thats not an agenda!

Thames Hub airport proposal links across the UK and Europe
Thames Hub airport proposal links across the UK and Europe
Thames Hub airport proposal links across the UK and Europe
Image by Foster + Partner taken from the Atlantic Cities / The infrastructure side of the proposal extends right across the UK including links to main land Europe. From new high speed rail links (including visibility shields and integrated infrastructure media, water broadband and so on) and the proposed link across the Thames serving for flood defence, infrastructure and transport tunnel.

The project was presented at lecture evening at UCL by Sir Peter Hall, Huw Thomas from Foster + Partner and Andrew Price from Halcrow.

But its true, the UK actually faces a massively overaged infrastructure system that is constantly patched together poring in emergency funding to actually keep it going, but in no way to renew it. The country is in desperate need to renew these structures, but the real goal of course it to make the airport the essential piece of this task in order to build up enough pressure to get a tiny piece of the necessary changes actually built. This of course would be the airport.

cAKA_clockbank_2006-08-08.ai
Image by jafud / Proposal for a floating city in the Thames Estuary, including an international airport and a deep water access port for London. Developed by jafud 2006, the Bartlett. Part of this proposal was published in the book Cycles in Urban Environments: Investigating Temporal Rhythms
, by Fabian Neuhaus, 2010
.


Such an argumentation of course it no new strategy. Previous projects have tried to integrate new flood defence flood barriers for the Thames Gateway and ultimately London as part of a new International Airport in the Estuary. So for example Thames Reach Airport put forward in 2002, actually proposed more or less on the same location as the new Thames Hub by Foster + Partners. There was also the Thames Reach Airport project put forward in 2009. THere were however much older proposals for example the Maplin project proposed in the early 70s under the then prime minister Edward Heath. There are som many more including the ArKwAy project developed at the Bartlett's MSc Urban Design of a floating city in the Thames Estuary that would include a major new airport as well as a port. A very comprehensive summary is the parliament report Aviation:proposals for an airport in the Thames estuary, 1945-2012 - Commons Library Standard Note summarising the last 67 years of airport planning in the Thames Estuary.

Thames airport proposal 1934 outside parliament
Image taken from Skyscrapercity / Proposal for an airport above the Thames in the center of London just outside Parliement as published in Popular Science Monthly, March, 1934, p28.

The main problem is how the planning is done in the UK. As it is with pretty much all the large scale projects, the Government is doing nothing, it is the privat sector that is pushing it and finally delivering. The politicians have missed the opportunity 2003, ten years ago, because they could not decide. Now the new Government is also against everything and all options, but unable to come up with proposals for solutions.

This practice leaves the essentials and crucial UK infrastructure to be proposed, planned and delivered by the private sector. The result will be once more a cost effective business hybride that works, but is not at all innovative, nor is it ground braking or future proof. It will be just another quick fix, badly stitched together from pieces copied from examples from around the world (maybe UK companies have delivered them, but abroad they all work much better) and crucially it will be too late.

The private sector and comercial businesses can't be blamed. At least they deliver. It is not in their interest to look ahead when they are still busy maximising the profit they can squeeze out fo horribly run down but still profitable, with public money supported infrastructure pieces. To plan and organize a countries infrastructure, serving primarily its people should definitely be the governments business. They should be in charge of developing the strategies for the future, covering energy network and grid, transport infrastructure and communication networks as well as environment including disaster management and water security. Its a public job for the community to secure the essentials in a sustainable and future proof way definitely not a private sector job.

This does not mean the private sector can not deliver, nor pay for it. But the strategy has to be thought out an prepared by the politicians as a matter of national interest. However, this government is not gona do it, they privatise schools and the police force, why should they develop the national grid of infrastructure? Further more there is nothing that points towards the planning system being overhauled into this direction. The government will unveil plans to change the planning system very soon, according to an article on the BBC Planning system awaits overhaul in England, but its going exactly the other way. It will open the doors to planning free for all strengthening such private sector proposals and takeovers on a whole range of scales whilst at the same time again weakening any public authority's position. They are actively taking themselves out of the responsibility.

It is again in fact not far of the earlier example of crowd funding of projects on web platforms such as Spacehive as discussed earlier HERE. The new Hub for the UK will be built in a similar way. The first group that comes along saying the have the money to deliver it, will get the job, no matter what the project, nor which option they are proposing.

Student vis galore!

I blogged a few weeks ago about the students on our MRes in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation, and their take on twitter data collected by Fabian Neuhaus and Steven Gray. Since then they’ve been hard at work visualising bike data, cellular automata and agent-based models. Here are just a few examples of their work – you can see more on their blog aggregator.

Ian Morton‘s version of a 3D Game of Life Cellular Automata is particularly eye-catching, and his experiments with photographic techniques are really novel visualisation tools.

Meanwhile, Flora Roumpami produced a tool to take a raster image of a plan and turn it into an agent-based model which responds to the walls and boundaries of the architectural space. These are treated as a series of points with which the agents can interact and bounce off – an approach which simplifies the programming complexity but makes the computational cost quite a bit higher. In these situation, this is a trade-off. I thought this was an excellent tool – you’ll be able to see it soon on her blog.

Alistair Leak created a great “forest fire” CA a few weeks ago for the Cellular Automata assignment. He’s incorporated probabilistic fire-spreading models with wind and “fire breaks” – simulating how we can intervene to limit spread. (Again, it’s not there yet, but you can read about other examples of his work on his blog).

Martin Dittus created a wonderfully kaleidoscopic vis from Boris Bike data:

and his blog includes the work he’s done on cannibalistic ABMs and tile-shifting CAs.

Jack Harrison‘s Agent Based Model had more than a little of the zombie about it. His blog is a bit less bloodthirsty and more design-based. Robin Edwards‘ ABM was a bit more jolly – a celebration of The Beautiful Game.

The students’ next visualisation project is to integrate all the skills they’ve learned to create a larger exhibition for the end of next term. In the meantime, they’ll be exhibiting some of their work at the CASA Smart Cities conference on April 20th in London. If you are able to come, free tickets are available here.

And if this have whet you appetite, you can find more information about the CASA MRes here.


Geospatial Science Seminar 20.03.2012

UCL Geospatial Science Seminars

Visualization of traffic in space-time.
Garavig Tanaksaranond, UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering.

To download a PDF of the seminar please click here.

Abstract.
Traffic congestion has many negative effects on people in the city. Although large amounts of road traffic data have been collected, we still have not been able to fully understand traffic congestion. The task is becoming still more difficult because traffic data are in effect too abundant and are highly disaggregate with respect to space and time. The research reported in this presentation seeks to use visualization techniques to understand road network performance in space-time, using data gathered from monitoring devices in London.

Geospatial Science Seminar 13.03.2012

UCL Geospatial Science Seminars

A kernel based approach for spatio-temporal modelling and forecasting.
James Haworth, UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering.

To download a PDF of the seminar please click here.

Abstract.
Traditionally, statistical models have been used for spatio-temporal forecasting due to their strong theoretical foundation and interpretability. However, many large scale spatio-temporal datasets display complex, nonlinear, nonstationary properties that violate the iid assumptions of classical statistical models. Increasingly, practitioners are borrowing techniques from the machine learning community because of their innate ability to deal with this type of data. In particular, kernel based approaches such as the support vector machine have been successful because they use the so called “kernel trick” to allow linear algorithms to model nonlinear data. In this session, a kernel based approach to spatio-temporal forecasting is introduced. The model is tested using travel time data collected by automatic number plate recognition cameras on London’s road network.

Driving the Internet: Mobile Internets, Cars, and the Social


Carrying on the theme of new papers, we are pleased to announce the following publication:
Future Internet 20124(1), 306-321; doi:10.3390/fi4010306
Article
Driving the Internet: Mobile Internets, Cars, and the Social
Department of Media and Communications, The University of Sydney, Holme Building (Ao9a), Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
Received: 22 December 2011; in revised form: 7 March 2012 / Accepted: 14 March 2012 / Published: 20 March 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Transformations from the Mobile Internet)


Abstract: This paper looks at the tandem technologies of cars and the Internet, and the new ways that they are assembling the social with the mobile Internet. My argument is two-fold: firstly, the advent of mobile Internet in cars brings together new, widely divergent trajectories of Internet; secondly, such developments have social implications that vary widely depending on whether or not we recognize the broader technological systems and infrastructures, media practices, flows, and mobilities in which vehicular mobile Internets are being created.

Download the full text from Future Internet...


Driving the Internet: Mobile Internets, Cars, and the Social


Carrying on the theme of new papers, we are pleased to announce the following publication:
Future Internet 20124(1), 306-321; doi:10.3390/fi4010306
Article
Driving the Internet: Mobile Internets, Cars, and the Social
Department of Media and Communications, The University of Sydney, Holme Building (Ao9a), Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
Received: 22 December 2011; in revised form: 7 March 2012 / Accepted: 14 March 2012 / Published: 20 March 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Transformations from the Mobile Internet)


Abstract: This paper looks at the tandem technologies of cars and the Internet, and the new ways that they are assembling the social with the mobile Internet. My argument is two-fold: firstly, the advent of mobile Internet in cars brings together new, widely divergent trajectories of Internet; secondly, such developments have social implications that vary widely depending on whether or not we recognize the broader technological systems and infrastructures, media practices, flows, and mobilities in which vehicular mobile Internets are being created.

Download the full text from Future Internet...


When does Twitter get angry?

I've been spending a bit of time with Twitter data of late - perhaps not a healthy activity - but it is amazing what a rich data source of social and spatial behaviour it is.

Someone asked to me today whether it was possible to identify when and where Twitter gets angry.  Well, here is my answer to the first part - the when.

The graph below shows the variation, across the day, in the prevalence of swearing in the 'Twittersphere'.  The data used represents tweets during two weeks in March 2012 covering London only - so maybe this is just when London gets angry...

In the graph we have the percentage of all tweets containing ALL types of swearing in blue, in red we have the prevalence of the f-word (by far the most common swear word), then finally the percent appearance of the s-word is shown in green.  Time is along the bottom.

Swearingtweets

Putting the slightly frivolous nature of this work aside for a second, the data does demonstrate some interesting trends.  There is a clear upward trend in 'anger' as the day goes on, reaching a peak at around 10pm.  But why is this?  Why do we swear more in the evening, when we should be relaxed and enjoying our precious free time?  Are we (we being Twitter users only, of course) swearing at the TV?  Arguing with our friends over Twitter?  Or are enough of us getting drunk and losing our inhibitions?

We also see a smaller peak at around 5pm - now this is more easily explained.  The 'thank f**k work is over' tweet one might surmise.  An even smaller peak at around 9am suggests the opposite effect.

But I think this simple analysis gives us some insight into the way we use social media throughout the day.  During the day we think about work.  We tweet and communicate about work.  Yet in the evening, Twitter becomes a different place.  We let our guard down, and once we're outside of the constraints of work, perhaps we begin to use Twitter in a different way.  Places like Twitter allow us the space to exclaim and let off our true feelings, whatever they may be, that might otherwise be constrained in other environments.

Twitter gets a lot of stick for its high volume of frivolous content - probably with good reason - but at a higher level some subtle but interesting social trends can start to be observed.

Permalink | Leave a comment  »

Characteristics of Heavily Edited Objects in OpenStreetMap

As Editor of Future Internet (ISSN 1999-5903), an open access journal on Internet technologies and the information society, published by MDPI online we are pleased to announce the publication of the latest paper:

Characteristics of Heavily Edited Objects in OpenStreetMap

1 Department of Computer Science, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland2 School of Computer Science and Informatics, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland


Abstract


This paper describes the results of an analysis of the OpenStreetMap (OSM) database for the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland (correct to April 2011). 15; 640 OSM ways (polygons and polylines), resulting in 316; 949 unique versions of these objects, were extracted and analysed from the OSM database for the UK and Ireland. 


In our analysis we only considered “heavily edited” objects in OSM: objects which have been edited 15 or more times. Our results show that there is no strong relationship between increasing numbers of contributors to a given object and the number of tags (metadata) assigned to it. 87% of contributions/edits to these objects are performed by 11% of the total 4128 contributors.


 In 79% of edits additional spatial data (nodes) are added to objects. The results in this paper do not attempt to evaluate the OSM data as good/poor quality but rather informs potential consumers of OSM data that the data itself is changing over time. In developing a better understanding of the characteristics of “heavily edited” objects there may be opportunities to use historical analysis in working towards quality indicators for OSM in the future.


As ever with Future Internet the paper is freely available for download...


Characteristics of Heavily Edited Objects in OpenStreetMap

As Editor of Future Internet (ISSN 1999-5903), an open access journal on Internet technologies and the information society, published by MDPI online we are pleased to announce the publication of the latest paper:

Characteristics of Heavily Edited Objects in OpenStreetMap

1 Department of Computer Science, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland2 School of Computer Science and Informatics, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland


Abstract


This paper describes the results of an analysis of the OpenStreetMap (OSM) database for the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland (correct to April 2011). 15; 640 OSM ways (polygons and polylines), resulting in 316; 949 unique versions of these objects, were extracted and analysed from the OSM database for the UK and Ireland. 


In our analysis we only considered “heavily edited” objects in OSM: objects which have been edited 15 or more times. Our results show that there is no strong relationship between increasing numbers of contributors to a given object and the number of tags (metadata) assigned to it. 87% of contributions/edits to these objects are performed by 11% of the total 4128 contributors.


 In 79% of edits additional spatial data (nodes) are added to objects. The results in this paper do not attempt to evaluate the OSM data as good/poor quality but rather informs potential consumers of OSM data that the data itself is changing over time. In developing a better understanding of the characteristics of “heavily edited” objects there may be opportunities to use historical analysis in working towards quality indicators for OSM in the future.


As ever with Future Internet the paper is freely available for download...


Tuesday Teaser 20th March

This week, a politics question:

Since WW2, how many British Prime Ministers first got the job without winning a general election?

As ever, feel free to gloat and post answers and guesses in the comments section. But only after the snake, mind. We don’t want to ruin it for everyone else.

City in a Book: Augmenting the CityEngine

Over the past few days we have been working on a series of techniques to visualise and augment procedural cities.


If you add in a model of a BenQ projector, the MRes in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation Handbook, a city within the CASA logo and a webcam you get the following augmented reality:




We are exploring this as part of our digital visualisation module on the MRes here in CASA, aiming to build in the latest research into the lectures. The combination of Lumion, 3DMax, Illustrator, CityEngine and AR is intriguing...



City in a Book: Augmenting the CityEngine

Over the past few days we have been working on a series of techniques to visualise and augment procedural cities.


If you add in a model of a BenQ projector, the MRes in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation Handbook, a city within the CASA logo and a webcam you get the following augmented reality:




We are exploring this as part of our digital visualisation module on the MRes here in CASA, aiming to build in the latest research into the lectures. The combination of Lumion, 3DMax, Illustrator, CityEngine and AR is intriguing...



London Driver Survey

As part of building a fuller understanding of the way people move around the city by car, I've developed a survey to start delving into some of the lesser understood issues.

The survey looks at the extent of use of GPS and similar devices, behaviour around congested areas of the network and usage of traffic information.  The results will contribute towards the building of a better model of driver behaviour.

You can find the survey here - http://goo.gl/UDrFI

Please pass it on to all of the motorists in London that you know!

Permalink | Leave a comment  »

ESRI CityEngine – Creating Cities inside Logos and Logos inside Cities

The best way to learn new modelling software is to step away from complex data and take a side look at its capabilities. We have used this approach to run through the various features of CityEngine, producing a series of movies based around the logo of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, here at University College London.

First up we integrated the CASA logo into the cityscape by manually tracing the logo and building a network around it. Via an import into iMovie the result is a playful fly around the logo:




Taking the concept further we built the city around the logo, using the nodes and hubs as interconnected cityscapes. With the city base rising out the sea it presents a different feel to the original movie:




Finally, we used an alpha channel on the logo, allowing us to lower the outline onto the cityscape:




The combination of Adobe Illustrator, ESRI CityEngine, AutoDesk 3DMax and finally Lumion make for a rapid way to create unique cityscapes. The next steps are to integrate actual data.....


ESRI CityEngine – Creating Cities inside Logos and Logos inside Cities

The best way to learn new modelling software is to step away from complex data and take a side look at its capabilities. We have used this approach to run through the various features of CityEngine, producing a series of movies based around the logo of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, here at University College London.

First up we integrated the CASA logo into the cityscape by manually tracing the logo and building a network around it. Via an import into iMovie the result is a playful fly around the logo:




Taking the concept further we built the city around the logo, using the nodes and hubs as interconnected cityscapes. With the city base rising out the sea it presents a different feel to the original movie:




Finally, we used an alpha channel on the logo, allowing us to lower the outline onto the cityscape:




The combination of Adobe Illustrator, ESRI CityEngine, AutoDesk 3DMax and finally Lumion make for a rapid way to create unique cityscapes. The next steps are to integrate actual data.....


Introduction to GIS course- register now!

Course title: Introduction to Geographical Information Systems – Using ArcGIS (Vector Applications)

 Organising university/institution: University of Leeds

 Course Dates: 29 - 30 March, 2012

Event Description: This course provides an introduction to Geographical Information Systems (GIS) using ESRI’s ArcGIS version 10.0 software. It provides participants with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with using and navigating the software as well as focussing on the skills of data entry, data manipulation, editing, analysis and mapping. The emphasis of this course is working with vector data in the context of a variety of socio-economic applications. The course will mix teaching with demonstrations and hands-on exercises.

 Name of presenter/instructor: Dr. Alison Heppenstall

 Level: Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)

 Format/duration: This is a 1.5 day course.

 Cost: £45 for students and £90 for staff  (This course is open to staff and students at Higher Education Institutions in the UK and Ireland.)

 Event address:  Room G.19, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT

To register please visit: http://store.leeds.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&prodid=177&deptid=9&catid=47

For further information, please contact: Amy O’Neill at a.oneill@leeds.ac.uk or  at 0113 343 7992

Crowd Funded Projects a Model for Planning?

The internet has opened up new resources for funding opportunities. Platforms to advertise projects and find sponsors and funders are developing fast. On such platform is Kickstarter, where developers can promote their project and ask for funding to develop prototyps and deliver products. Others are Go4funds, JustGiving or Profunder. They all have their specialities and niches but essentially they are all about projects and proposals that need to be funded.

A new project called Spacehive has come up in the UK with its own niche in this popular funding circus. The focus is on building projects as they call it neighbourhood improvement projects. As it says on the page "For people with inspiring project ideas, Spacehive allows you to pitch for support and funding from your community. For everyone else it's a refreshingly easy way to transform where you live: just find a project you like and pledge a donation. If it gets funded, it gets built!"

The founder Chris Gourlay describes the Spacehive as the world's first online funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects. The project went live only last December (2011-12-07) and has so far listed a total of seven projects. These range from a Rooftop Aquatic Farm to a Dog Training Facility to the Community Centre project in Glyncoch.

As far as the projects range so do the costs. The platform has no cost restriction or a minimum. For examples the community centre wants to raise some £792,578 and the Revive North Pond project needs £42,320 or the Stokwell Urban Oasis needs only £2,952.

So far none of the projects have been successful. In fact the Glyncoch centre will be the first project to hit the dead line on the 30st of March. The projects currently needs a further £23'000 to go ahead next month. The next 22 days will be nerve racking for the project officials who desperately want their project to go ahead.

Infrastructure as architecture
Image taken from gka.org / The existing community centre in Glyncoch built in 1977. Could do with an update no question about that.

The media has already responded to the project and BBC has reported from Glyncoch after Steven Fry has tweeted about it. The social media is quick in picking stuff like this up and once more Twitter was the media of choice to discover the Spacehive platform. With over 4 million followers Steven Fry tweeting about it is great promotion and the community hopes this will bring the project the remaining money in funds they are short.

The projects are however not purely community funded. The Glyncoch project for examples has already had funding of 95% when is was listed on the Spacehive platform. This funding is Government money the village was promised for a new community centre. Only the remaining £30'000 the project team is trying to raise on the internet for the new centre to serve the 4'125 strong community.

Infrastructure as architecture
Image taken from spacehive.com / The newly proposed community centre for Glyncoch to be built for 7. There are no plans of or drawings, mentions of a program or what kind of facilities exactly it will offer. Its only a simple SketchUp image showig some building form the outside. Very difficult to see how it will unfold its qualities but it seems to be enough to try and rais substantial amounts of money.

Getting the public involved in local projects is nothing new interesting however, is the way the new trend on the internet is pushing terminologies and understandings of such projects. What does it mean if such a project for a community centre that is desperately needed is now promoted a crowd funded project. How does that change the responsibility previously carried by official government bodies and what does such a model mean for the next generation of urban project?

Platforms for crowd funded projects are nothing new as we have discussed above. THey work for software and app development, for products and now also have their big platform for art, but does it work for community projects? Can such a model replace the states responsibility to deliver and maintain standards in communities including infrastructure and facilities like a community centre.

The current UK Government will be very pleased if such a funding process takes off and becomes a model for other community project. It will mean that even in the delivery for public projects competition and free market can be introduced. Cameron could try and argue that the best promotion team could win any community the much deserved project with the add-on of ,if they can't, they don't deserve it. Let the crowd decide who needs what. It fits perfectly with the Tories plan to run schools privately as academies, privatise the police as outsources services to private security providers and now also let public projects be delivered privately.

Infrastructure as architecture
Image taken from spacehive.com / A project for A Roof-top Aquaponic Farm for London! producing fish and vegetables is one of the other projects looking for funders on the Spacehive platform. This project will need £45,602 to go ahead. The project is promoted by urbanFarmersUK a project related to urbanfarmers.ch a Group based in Zuerich, Switzerland.

A state and especially a planning and urban development does't work like that. Values, excellence and quality are not something that is naturally delivered in the free market. Urban planners and practitioners have to stand for such qualities with their expertise. The future of our cities is not to be placed in the hands of lay people, for such important tasks experts should be put in place to develop such plans for the interest of the community.

The deliver should similarly be payed by the state or the local government using the taxes. People already pay a contribution to the community and this should be directed into such projects. The people from Glyncoch have all payed their tax towards this community centre and its not the point to now turn around and say well we are 30'000 short so all of your pay £10 extra and it will get payed. They already have payed!

Further more developing such funding options for urban development will change the responsibilities. The government will no longer be in charge and therefore also looses the power to controle what is happening. Who will be setting the standards and guidelines if the new road or bridge or dump is crowd funded? It will be very easy for large companies and businesses to manipulate such a process and get it don their way whilst ignoring all regulations and guidelines by pretending to work with the community.

Especially here in the UK it will be dramatic since the current development frameworks already are heavily influenced by private interests with the local authority and the government having very weak measures and tools to develop a community based vision. Other countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland have much better developed frameworks and instruments for urban planning and community development.

It will be vital to strengthen the public official in delivering such community projects and bring back authority to plan ahead and deliver. This is the only way for consistent and sustainable development of the communities through out the country. The public can privatise these responsibilities they have to remain in the powers of the authorities.

Crowd Funded Projects a Model for Planning?

The internet has opened up new resources for funding opportunities. Platforms to advertise projects and find sponsors and funders are developing fast. On such platform is Kickstarter, where developers can promote their project and ask for funding to develop prototyps and deliver products. Others are Go4funds, JustGiving or Profunder. They all have their specialities and niches but essentially they are all about projects and proposals that need to be funded.

A new project called Spacehive has come up in the UK with its own niche in this popular funding circus. The focus is on building projects as they call it neighbourhood improvement projects. As it says on the page "For people with inspiring project ideas, Spacehive allows you to pitch for support and funding from your community. For everyone else it's a refreshingly easy way to transform where you live: just find a project you like and pledge a donation. If it gets funded, it gets built!"

The founder Chris Gourlay describes the Spacehive as the world's first online funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects. The project went live only last December (2011-12-07) and has so far listed a total of seven projects. These range from a Rooftop Aquatic Farm to a Dog Training Facility to the Community Centre project in Glyncoch.

As far as the projects range so do the costs. The platform has no cost restriction or a minimum. For examples the community centre wants to raise some £792,578 and the Revive North Pond project needs £42,320 or the Stokwell Urban Oasis needs only £2,952.

So far none of the projects have been successful. In fact the Glyncoch centre will be the first project to hit the dead line on the 30st of March. The projects currently needs a further £23'000 to go ahead next month. The next 22 days will be nerve racking for the project officials who desperately want their project to go ahead.

Infrastructure as architecture
Image taken from gka.org / The existing community centre in Glyncoch built in 1977. Could do with an update no question about that.

The media has already responded to the project and BBC has reported from Glyncoch after Steven Fry has tweeted about it. The social media is quick in picking stuff like this up and once more Twitter was the media of choice to discover the Spacehive platform. With over 4 million followers Steven Fry tweeting about it is great promotion and the community hopes this will bring the project the remaining money in funds they are short.

The projects are however not purely community funded. The Glyncoch project for examples has already had funding of 95% when is was listed on the Spacehive platform. This funding is Government money the village was promised for a new community centre. Only the remaining £30'000 the project team is trying to raise on the internet for the new centre to serve the 4'125 strong community.

Infrastructure as architecture
Image taken from spacehive.com / The newly proposed community centre for Glyncoch to be built for 7. There are no plans of or drawings, mentions of a program or what kind of facilities exactly it will offer. Its only a simple SketchUp image showig some building form the outside. Very difficult to see how it will unfold its qualities but it seems to be enough to try and rais substantial amounts of money.

Getting the public involved in local projects is nothing new interesting however, is the way the new trend on the internet is pushing terminologies and understandings of such projects. What does it mean if such a project for a community centre that is desperately needed is now promoted a crowd funded project. How does that change the responsibility previously carried by official government bodies and what does such a model mean for the next generation of urban project?

Platforms for crowd funded projects are nothing new as we have discussed above. THey work for software and app development, for products and now also have their big platform for art, but does it work for community projects? Can such a model replace the states responsibility to deliver and maintain standards in communities including infrastructure and facilities like a community centre.

The current UK Government will be very pleased if such a funding process takes off and becomes a model for other community project. It will mean that even in the delivery for public projects competition and free market can be introduced. Cameron could try and argue that the best promotion team could win any community the much deserved project with the add-on of ,if they can't, they don't deserve it. Let the crowd decide who needs what. It fits perfectly with the Tories plan to run schools privately as academies, privatise the police as outsources services to private security providers and now also let public projects be delivered privately.

Infrastructure as architecture
Image taken from spacehive.com / A project for A Roof-top Aquaponic Farm for London! producing fish and vegetables is one of the other projects looking for funders on the Spacehive platform. This project will need £45,602 to go ahead. The project is promoted by urbanFarmersUK a project related to urbanfarmers.ch a Group based in Zuerich, Switzerland.

A state and especially a planning and urban development does't work like that. Values, excellence and quality are not something that is naturally delivered in the free market. Urban planners and practitioners have to stand for such qualities with their expertise. The future of our cities is not to be placed in the hands of lay people, for such important tasks experts should be put in place to develop such plans for the interest of the community.

The deliver should similarly be payed by the state or the local government using the taxes. People already pay a contribution to the community and this should be directed into such projects. The people from Glyncoch have all payed their tax towards this community centre and its not the point to now turn around and say well we are 30'000 short so all of your pay £10 extra and it will get payed. They already have payed!

Further more developing such funding options for urban development will change the responsibilities. The government will no longer be in charge and therefore also looses the power to controle what is happening. Who will be setting the standards and guidelines if the new road or bridge or dump is crowd funded? It will be very easy for large companies and businesses to manipulate such a process and get it don their way whilst ignoring all regulations and guidelines by pretending to work with the community.

Especially here in the UK it will be dramatic since the current development frameworks already are heavily influenced by private interests with the local authority and the government having very weak measures and tools to develop a community based vision. Other countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland have much better developed frameworks and instruments for urban planning and community development.

It will be vital to strengthen the public official in delivering such community projects and bring back authority to plan ahead and deliver. This is the only way for consistent and sustainable development of the communities through out the country. The public can privatise these responsibilities they have to remain in the powers of the authorities.

Learning processing part:2 Building structures over time



In the MRes of Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation in CASA, we are exploring various techniques that are relevant to urban modelling and visualisations, such as Cellular Automata (CA), Agents etc. These approaches can be abstract visualizations and in these terms, i m exploring CA  by building vertical structures over time using Processing. 


Assignment in the context of the visualization course by Martin Austwickin the mres ASAV 2011. 
music: J.S. Bach Menuet  Gameboy Tetris.

Learning processing part:2 Building structures over time



In the MRes of Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation in CASA, we are exploring various techniques that are relevant to urban modelling and visualisations, such as Cellular Automata (CA), Agents etc. These approaches can be abstract visualizations and in these terms, i m exploring CA  by building vertical structures over time using Processing. 


Assignment in the context of the visualization course by Martin Austwickin the mres ASAV 2011. 
music: J.S. Bach Menuet  Gameboy Tetris.

Big Data, Complexity, Networks at the German Physical Society

 

Full Details of the Meeting are Here

Various people from UCL and Kings are contributing to this meeting in Berlin. Mike Batty from CASA is talking on how cities and their evident complexity require big data which is rapidly becoming available, Phil Treleavan from CS at UCL is talking about experimental computational finance in a bid data environment, Tiziana de Matteo from Kings is talking about embedding high dimensional data on networks, and there are many other talks, including Gene Stanley on interdependent networks and switching phenomena. Gene was the first visitor we ever had at CASA and he came with Hernan Makse in January 1996 when I (Mike) was the only employee and we were working still on DLA models. We wrote a paper on this which was in Physical Review E in 1999 and as Gene had written with George Weiss who had written with Joseph Gillis who in turn had co-authored a paper with Paul Erdos, that makes my (Mike’s) Erdos Number 4!! But tens of thousands of people have this number. It’s a small world after all.

 

 

Big Data, Complexity, Networks at the German Physical Society

Full Details of the Meeting are Here

Various people from UCL and Kings are contributing to this meeting in Berlin. Mike Batty from CASA is talking on how cities and their evident complexity require big data which is rapidly becoming available, Phil Treleavan from CS at UCL is talking about experimental computational finance in a bid data environment, Tiziana de Matteo from Kings is talking about embedding high dimensional data on networks, and there are many other talks, including Gene Stanley on interdependent networks and switching phenomena. Gene was the first visitor we ever had at CASA and he came with Hernan Makse in January 1996 when I (Mike) was the only employee and we were working still on DLA models. We wrote a paper on this which was in Physical Review E in 1999 and as Gene had written with George Weiss who had written with Joseph Gillis who in turn had co-authored a paper with Paul Erdos, that makes my (Mike’s) Erdos Number 4!! But tens of thousands of people have this number. It’s a small world after all.

 

 

WikiGIS Basic Concepts: Web 2.0 for Geospatial Collaboration

We are pleased to announce the latest FutureInternet Journal paper as part of the special issue on NeoGeography and WikiPlanning:


WikiGIS Basic Concepts: Web 2.0 for Geospatial Collaboration

1 Centre for Research in Geomatic, Pavillon Casault, Université Laval, Québec, QC G1V0A6, Canada2 Fujitsu Canada, 2000, boulevard Lebourgneuf, bureau 300, Québec, QC G2K0B8, Canada3 Interdisciplinary Centre for the Development of Ocean Mapping–CIDCO, 310 allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, QC G5L3A1, Canada

With the emergence of Web 2.0, new applications arise and evolve into more interactive forms of collective intelligence. These applications offer to both professionals and citizens an open and expanded access to geographic information. In this paper, we develop the conceptual foundations of a new technology solution called WikiGIS. WikiGIS’s strength lies in its ability to ensure the traceability of changes in spatial-temporal geographic components (geometric location and shape, graphics: iconography and descriptive) generated by users. The final use case highlights to what extent WikiGIS could be a relevant and useful technological innovation in Geocollaboration.


As an open access journal you can download the full paper direct from Future Internet.


WikiGIS Basic Concepts: Web 2.0 for Geospatial Collaboration

We are pleased to announce the latest FutureInternet Journal paper as part of the special issue on NeoGeography and WikiPlanning:


WikiGIS Basic Concepts: Web 2.0 for Geospatial Collaboration

1 Centre for Research in Geomatic, Pavillon Casault, Université Laval, Québec, QC G1V0A6, Canada2 Fujitsu Canada, 2000, boulevard Lebourgneuf, bureau 300, Québec, QC G2K0B8, Canada3 Interdisciplinary Centre for the Development of Ocean Mapping–CIDCO, 310 allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, QC G5L3A1, Canada

With the emergence of Web 2.0, new applications arise and evolve into more interactive forms of collective intelligence. These applications offer to both professionals and citizens an open and expanded access to geographic information. In this paper, we develop the conceptual foundations of a new technology solution called WikiGIS. WikiGIS’s strength lies in its ability to ensure the traceability of changes in spatial-temporal geographic components (geometric location and shape, graphics: iconography and descriptive) generated by users. The final use case highlights to what extent WikiGIS could be a relevant and useful technological innovation in Geocollaboration.


As an open access journal you can download the full paper direct from Future Internet.


Distributed MASON


Last week, the Center for Social Complexity at GMU, hosted Prof. Vittorio Scarano and Carmine Spagnuolo from the ISISLab of the Università degli Studi di Salerno who have been working on a distributed version of MASON (DMason). The idea is that one can create an agent-based model in MASON and then use the framework to easily distribute it over many machines. The movie below shows an example of what can be done. More information can be found here.




However, if you don't use MASON, you might also be interested in Repast for High Performance Computing

Distributed MASON


Last week, the Center for Social Complexity at GMU, hosted Prof. Vittorio Scarano and Carmine Spagnuolo from the ISISLab of the Università degli Studi di Salerno who have been working on a distributed version of MASON (DMason). The idea is that one can create an agent-based model in MASON and then use the framework to easily distribute it over many machines. The movie below shows an example of what can be done. More information can be found here.




However, if you don't use MASON, you might also be interested in Repast for High Performance Computing

On swans…

BBC Radio 4 ran a well-made item in Analysis this week on Nicholas Nassim Taleb, known for his bestselling book The Black Swan, and his relationship with David Cameron. More specifically, it was about Cameron’s relationship with Taleb’s ideas – the episode played out a bit like an Adam Curtis documentary*. Imagine All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, replacing “Ayn Rand” with “Karl Popper”, “Alan Greenspan” with “Nassim Taleb”, and “Every US president since the 80s” with “David Cameron”. I think it’s worth a listen, and is a well-made programme, but irritated me inordinately.

To give a little background, The Black Swan event is one that is impossible to predict, but cause a radical shift – in the original statement of the phenomenon, “all swans are white” was disproven when the Europeans who’d coined the “law” went to Australia and saw black swans.

What Taleb has taken from the application of “Black Swan Theory” to the world of economics is that we shouldn’t assume we know everything and risk everything on that assumption. That we should behave as if the worst could happen at any time and plan for those contingencies. That concentration of great power and wealth into the hands of a few is a bad thing**. These might be big newsflashes for neocons, captains of industry and dictators, but for anyone left of Thatcher, Taleb is not being terribly original, and he certainly isn’t the only person to have spotted this, even during the boom years. To paint the financial crisis as a failure of intellect as opposed to a failure of leadership seems to me impressively revisionist. Poor financial sector – no one told them that creating bad debt and selling it on hidden in complex financial instruments was risky behaviour – HOW WERE THEY TO KNOW?

“Small C conservatism”, “anarchism”, “fiscal responsibility” – all of these things existed before 2007. Taleb seems fairly anarchistic himself. He thinks large companies and large government are dangerous, because if they fail, we all feel their effects. If we take this thesis (which I think is plausible) what are the solutions? Reduce centralisation of government and companies, presumably. It would seem to me that reducing corporate centralisation would best be done by something of comparable power (i.e. government), but I’m no policy expert. Arguably withdraw government support for large corporations. But reduce central government power and devolve it to smaller units, as Cameron seems to want? How does that reduce centralised corporate power and invulnerability? (Equally, devolving political power is not an act of piecemeal experimentation, by definition).

The invocation of Popper (along with this article a few months ago) in support of Tory policy just seems like a ridiculous fig leaf to me, although it’s not the first time they’ve worn it. Scientists love a man in uniform, runs the old joke. But philosophers love a man in a crown. Or a house with 10 on the front, or “white” in its prefix. The auspices of power give a philosopher reach and credibility, as well as material benefits; a premier loves having a man of letters to tell them why their political philosophy is deeply thought out and profoundly correct. In The Open Society and its Enemies Popper characterises the philosopher Hegel as an apologist for a brutal and deeply unequal monarchy, Hegel’s claims that the Prussian political system represented the perfection of politics nothing more than sucking up to the rich and the powerful to line his own figurative pockets. Be careful who you cite.

I’m no Popper scholar (LSE’s John Worrall is, and he didn’t seem too impressed either) – but the theories they are using seem to come from The Logic of Scientific Discovery (which I am part way through reading) and The Open Society and its Enemies (which I have at least read). The former introduces the idea of falsifiability, the latter the idea of incremental social experimentation. Falsifiability ties into the idea that statements like “all swans are white” can only ever be disproven (by the appearance of one black swan!), never proven. Popper goes on to suggest that good science is based on building theories which are falsifiable. If you test something to within an inch of its life, and still haven’t proven it to be false, it’s doing ok. What he doesn’t say is “well let’s not bother looking at swans at all – in fact I’m not even sure swans exist” which seems to be message Cameron has taken away***.

The idea of piecemeal social experimentation, meanwhile, comes as a reaction to Popper’s critiques of messianic and utopian social movements of 20th Century like fascism and communism, and Marxists theories of historical inevitability and their desire to foresee the future of all of humanity. To remotely compare this to Cameron’s reaction to New Labour seems pretty disingenuous. Popper was writing in a (what is for me at least) a moving display of postwar optimism and the belief that conservative rationality and evidence-based approaches can make our society a better place. No grand narratives. No shining utopias. Just gradually finding ways to make things better.

*the digested arc for Adam Curtis docs seems to be “How a big idea got taken on by government and made everyone’s life a misery”. I happen to really enjoy the ones I’ve seen, but he has fairly direct MO that’s well-known enough to have been parodied

**apparently “because they might fail” rather than “because it encourages abuses of power” as every political philosopher of the last few thousand years seems to have spotted

*** swans = central government policy. This ironically seems to mirror what Adam Curtis calls “Oh Dearism”


Using Social Media Data for Research: The Ethical Challenges

Millions of users leave digital traces of their activities, interactions and whereabouts on the world wide web. More and more personal conversations and private messages are being shifted to these on-the-move channels of communication despite the many metadata strings attached. In recent years, the social science aspects of this data has become increasingly interesting for researchers.

Social networking services like Foursquare or Twitter provide programming interfaces for direct access to the real time data stream promoting it as free and public data. Despite signing acceptance of public rights these services have in their usage a predominantly private feel to it, creating for the user an ambivalence between voyeurism and exhibitionism.

What is the position of academic research upon using these datasources and datasets and how can academic standards be extended to cover these new and very dynamic in time and space operating information streams whilst protecting individual users privacy and respecting a high ethical standard?

In this presentation the use of digital social networks data will be discussed both from a user and from a processing for research standpoint. Examples of data mining and visualisation will be explained in detail developing a framework for working standards.

This talk will be presented at the lunchtime seminar at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, today 2012-03-14, 12h00-14h00, Seminar Room 1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road. The second speaker is Dr Sharath Srinivasan (Centre of Governance and Human Rights, POLIS).


Using Social Media Data for Research: The Ethical Challenges

Millions of users leave digital traces of their activities, interactions and whereabouts on the world wide web. More and more personal conversations and private messages are being shifted to these on-the-move channels of communication despite the many metadata strings attached. In recent years, the social science aspects of this data has become increasingly interesting for researchers.

Social networking services like Foursquare or Twitter provide programming interfaces for direct access to the real time data stream promoting it as free and public data. Despite signing acceptance of public rights these services have in their usage a predominantly private feel to it, creating for the user an ambivalence between voyeurism and exhibitionism.

What is the position of academic research upon using these datasources and datasets and how can academic standards be extended to cover these new and very dynamic in time and space operating information streams whilst protecting individual users privacy and respecting a high ethical standard?

In this presentation the use of digital social networks data will be discussed both from a user and from a processing for research standpoint. Examples of data mining and visualisation will be explained in detail developing a framework for working standards.

This talk will be presented at the lunchtime seminar at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, today 2012-03-14, 12h00-14h00, Seminar Room 1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road. The second speaker is Dr Sharath Srinivasan (Centre of Governance and Human Rights, POLIS).


Burning a Logo into a City…

This is very much a work in progress post, but we are interested in integrating text/patterns/logos into 3D models of the city. At the moment we are putting a work flow in place to take our CASA logo and burn it into the street patten of a procedural city.


Using the CityEngine, combined with vector files and Lumion/3DMax some interesting results can be obtained, especially if you also build in some physics/particle engine and agent based model capability.


We will have more on this in the coming days....

Update 14th March 2012 - Below is the first second draft movie:


Next stages are to build the city over time, we should have a work flow in place soon...





Burning a Logo into a City…

This is very much a work in progress post, but we are interested in integrating text/patterns/logos into 3D models of the city. At the moment we are putting a work flow in place to take our CASA logo and burn it into the street patten of a procedural city.


Using the CityEngine, combined with vector files and Lumion/3DMax some interesting results can be obtained, especially if you also build in some physics/particle engine and agent based model capability.


We will have more on this in the coming days....

Update 14th March 2012 - Below is the first second draft movie:


Next stages are to build the city over time, we should have a work flow in place soon...





Tuesday Teaser 13th March

Sorry for the lack of Tuesday Teaser last week, it’s because I was too busy living it up here. Back in full swing now, I promise. And to show you that I mean it, this week I’m pulling out one of my absolute favourite questions: 

There is only one country in the world whose name ends in the letter ‘k’. What is it? 

Please feel free to post answers and gloating remarks in the comments section below. And as ever, so as to keep up this delightful atmosphere of fun, I’ve included the silly snake to entertain you while you’re scrolling.

 

And the correct answer is…. Denmark.

The UK doesn’t count, you douches.