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I just read about this project at the electro^plankton blog, and had to re-post it immediately!

I know a couple of clever folks who tutor courses in the ITP department of NYU, and was lucky enough to hang out and chat with them a bit whilst in New York last month. The kind of work they’re doing over there I find thoroughly absorbing and just a little inspirational.

This project (Kacie Kinzer’s “tweenbots”) has been making news in its own right over the last few days, and is a brilliantly realised experiment in complex systems, navigation and anthropomorphic empathy. Basically, this little robot can only head in one direction. It bears a little flag, upon which its desired destination is communicated. This is the sum total of the powers at its disposal in its attempt to navigate part of New York city.

peoplebotweb

Basically, it relies entirely upon interventions from the perambulating public in order to achieve his goal- people have to stop, take an interest, and then to redirect, realign, retrieve and rescue him if he is to have any hope of success.

Perhaps surprisingly, succeed he does – via the interventions of 29 individuals over some 41minutes in Washington Square park.

tweenbot-path

I guess depending in the kindness of strangers can be a viable wayfaring strategy – if you’re helpless/cute/robotic enough to make it work.

For more info, visit the site.

Images sourced from http://www.tweenbots.com
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I’m not going to write a post about maps.

The topic is too big, and there’s so much great material out there already that there’s no need for me to add anything that isn’t more carefully researched and considered than this! If you are interested in (relatively) current discussions and interesting ideas in the world of maps and mapping you could do a lot worse than pick up a copy of this book, or Peter Hall’s essay on visualization in the “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibition catalogue.

It was browsing through this beautiful book however, that I came across the work of Paula Scher– who I’d been hitherto completely ignorant of.

youarehere1

Paula Scher paints maps.

paula-scher

Paris, 2007

That is to say she makes amazing, colour-saturated paintings that are at least part map – they are too sensual, too irregular, too wilfully representational to be truly map-like.

Nonetheless they are instantly familiar to us, both from the graphical language of political maps (coloured states, boundary lines, textual hierarchy), the design language of transport maps (bold, simplified lines and dots) and the ubiquity of the satellite’s-eye view we encounter on our PC’s, mobile phones and in our cars.

paulaschernyc

NYC Transit, 2007

They straddle a space between the authoritarian, didactic tone of the cartographic map that is designed to show the world as fact, and the hand-made, ornately annotated maps drawn from memory that we make for one another (and for ourselves) that show the world as imagined, as experienced and as filtered by human concerns.

paulaschertsunami

Tsunami, 2006

For all that, they are also huge and imposing things that I imagine you can get lost in for hours- shown to scale below.

paulaschertsunami-by-litherland

lovely, lovely things.

Gallery image sourced from Flickr user litherland, all other images sourced from Paula Scher’s site

me

I work in media as a strategist. I like art, robots, comics, interaction design, karaoke, wildlife photography, indian food, campari, gaming, American TV (teen drama included), reading non-fiction, reading fiction and listening to music. I also have a tenori-on because I'm so rad.

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