Archive for the ‘psychogeography’ Category

More about Time and Geography


Normally San Antonio has a leisurely pace, but with only a few shopping days til Christmas, its been a bit more hectic. Part of the reason we chose to live in San Antonio was for the pace of life. Other places seem more rushed. The recent cold weather also seems to a factor, perhaps triggering some hunter-gatherer hoarding behavior buried in my nordic evolutionary memory.

I wonder if the perception of time is somehow related to latitude? The sense of time doesn’t seem to get much attention from geographers. Which one of our five senses is used for time? How many San Antonio Minutes = one New York Minute?

In his book Lies My Teacher Told Me, James Loewen describes an experiment he conducted in Vermont. This seems like an easily reproducible experiment – very quantitative. He suggests class perceptions are the only factor here, but I think geography (latitude?) is also big factor.

Several years ago, two students of mine provided a demonstration: they drove around Burlington, Vermont, in a big, nearly new, shiny black American car (probably a Lexus would be more appropriate today) and then in a battered ten-year-old subcompact. In each vehicle, when they reached a stoplight and it turned green, they waited until they were honked at before driving on. Motorists averaged less than seven seconds to honk at them in the subcompact, but in the luxury car the students enjoyed 13.2 seconds before anyone honked. Besides providing a good reason to buy a luxury car, this experiment shows how Americans unconsciously grant respect to the educated and successful. Since motorists of all social stations honked at the subcompact more readily, working-class drivers were in a sense disrespecting themselves while deferring to their betters.

VGI Mobile Traffic Cams for Time challenged Parents?
Michael Goodchild writes about where we might be headed:

A third type of sensor network, and in many ways the most interesting, consists of humans themselves, each equipped with some working subset of the five senses and with the intelligence to compile and interpret what they sense, and each free to rove the surface of the planet.

Are we there Yet Daddy?
I think cars as sensors will happen first, specifically as mobile traffic-cams. I don’t think much intelligence will be required to collect the data, and the data will be most valuable when freedom to rove is restricted (i.e. stuck in traffic). It would be great if I could click on a map and get real time video feed from cars ahead on the map I could decide which alternate route to take to the mall. I read somewhere that people often prefer paths that allow them to drive faster instead of paths that get them to their destination slightly sooner. I bet even more so when they have kids in the back seat.

That’s all for now, someone’s honking so I better go.


Theme Park Geography


I used my season pass this weekend to visit SeaWorld. Before entering, I had my fingerprint scanned and matched against the scan already on file for my card. While some people have a problem with this, I didn’t mind. I’m willing to cede personal info to a corporation. Now if the Highway department scanned my license plate as I drove congested freeways on my way to SeaWorld though, I’d likely protest …

You are being asked to participate in these efforts because the license plate of a vehicle registered in (your) name was randomly recorded.

Survey sent to Texas Drivers by Alliance Group

I’m sure when I go to a shopping mall cameras track my movements. I don’t have a problem with that either. In fact, I feel safer, at least in the parking garage. Once RFID catches on I suppose scanners will read what I’ve got in my bag and pop up ads for complementing items at other stores on nearby LCD displays. Not only will they know where I am, but where I’ve been and what I’ve bought. Maybe my Google RFID credit card will also transmit my googleID, so google ads will also appear on monitors as I walk around.

But don’t let the government issue national identity cards. People have every right to freely enter this country and remain anonymous. If they want to go to SeaWorld though, they’ll have to buy a ticket and surrender their identity. After all, we gotta draw the line somewhere.

When free society gets too chaotic I’ll just retreat to my SeaWorld where they know me so well, and where they make me leave my car behind and actually walk (yes, walk!) to get around.

Inside SeaWorld, I never worry about things getting ugly, like they did at MacArthur Park.
Remember The Prisoner?

I wonder how long it will be before Busch/Disney/SixFlags repackages theme parks as pedestrian oriented neighborhoods where people not only play but also live and work. I often hear the phrase “exclusive neighborhood” without really thinking about who is being excluded. I’m sure tightened security would be a selling point for such neighborhoods. I’m also betting they’ll see the light and invite Starbucks, perhaps even installing “no matter where you go, there you are” window dressing to keep the graying hippies from getting suspicious.

Psychogeography and GIS

Psychogeographers don’t seem to get much attention from us quantitative geographers.

Given that GIS can provide tools for prediction and that predictability has been shown to greatly mitigate the effects of stress, it seems like pyschogeographers could use GIS tools to make the landscape more predictable.
Instead of worrying about “unimaginative urban landscapes“, maybe psychogeographers should think of ways to make life less stressful in places like Baghdad and New Orleans.