Using Innovative Tools to Understand the City

This is the first of a series of coming posts by which we’re going to explain the contents and goals of our Master Programme as part of a global approach in which technologic and relational links interact in order to better understand our cities and why we decided to provide each student with an iPad as an academic tool.

A few days ago, Fabian Neuhaus made this question: How do we identify our selves with the spaces we use and how do we navigate with the many obstacles the urban environment contains?

He pointed:

Living in the city means to constantly negotiate spaces as well as navigate space. This becomes more difficult under the density aspect as well as the mobility aspects. Also the cycles of change are very short and frequent adaptations require constant reorientation. Aspects of repetition and routine play an important role in the navigation of everyday situations. Being familiar with the aspects makes this task a lot easier. However, as soon as there are changes, new features or temporary obstacles, those have to be integrated.

There are projects like the Mobile 3D City, developed by the same team behind the Paris 3D application on the iPhone. They just released a movie detailing a 3D City dataset from Blom running on an iPad:

It is important to note that concepts like territoriality, mapping, walkspaces, will be important topics in our Master Programme and we intend to use innovative tools to support the workshops and lectures that are part of our research. A host of handheld devices and applications now promise to endow individual perception with the experience of a long-time local and the knowledge of an educated specialist, as refered by Mitchell Schwarzer.

Schwarzer enphasize that two developments stand out with respect to our sense of place, and he adds:

First, as real world activities migrate online, consumers are turning into producer/consumers. The kind of top-down, high or mass culture epitomized by the museum, newspaper or television is dissolving amid a plethora of platforms for communication and entertainment, many of which are generated by individuals and their online communities. Second, in any given locale, the network is augmenting reality. In our pocket we can carry anywhere an encyclopedic library and archive, a knowledge-screen that can be superimposed on our visual field to deepen its appearance along the vectors of our shifting inclinations.

This lead us to another interesting video: UpNext 3D Cities [San Francisco video demo]. You can “walk” on San Francisco’s streets in full 3D using an iPad:

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It is real that in the current times, we all teach and learn at the same time, and if we are able to support our academic research using all this tools which are part of everyday life, we are confident that the results will be one step closer to understanding our cities in a better way. That’s why we decided to include, as part of the global price of the Master Programme, an iPad for each student, that they will receive when the programme starts and we will use it to document our workshops and itineraries around the city and to develop mapping tools that reinforce our learning path.

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