Digital Urban Booklet

I’m a fan of the Digital Urban blog. I wrote earlier about it, and I tried  – inspired by their tutorials – to make an Urban Movie myself, that is, let’s admit it, not worth being mentioned.

Now they have made available their booklet “Digital Geography – Geographic Visualisation for Urban Environments“, written by Andrew Hudson-Smith, available on the web for free.

The booklet is aimed as the start of a ‘recipe’ book for Geographic Virtual Urban Environments (GeoVUE) which we will update frequently through both Blurb and other rapid printing methods.

It’s a collection of workshops to visualise the city yourself.

‘Neogeography’ (…) is a geography for the everyday person using Web 2.0 techniques to create and overlay their own locational and related information on and into systems that mirror the real world. The term derives from Eisnor (2006), one of the founders of, where she defines Neogeography as: “…a diverse set of practices that operate outside, or alongside, or in the manner of, the practices of  professional geographers”. Rather than making claims about scientific standards, methodologies of Neogeography tend towards the intuitive, expressive, personal, absurd and/or artistic, but may be idiosyncratic applications of ‘real’ geographic techniques. Turner (2006) expands the definition considerably in his pamphlet on the various techniques which non-professional users now have at their disposal. He says: “…a Neogeographer uses a mapping API like Google Maps, talks about GPX versus KML and geotags his photos to make a map of his summer vacation”.

Essentially, Neogeography is about people using their own
maps, on their own terms and combining elements of an existing toolset. As part of GeoVUE we have built and distributed our own ‘toolset’ for geographic visualisation.

Welcome to a new world of rich geographic information available anywhere, anyplace, anytime.

And, some pages later:

Without question, the most important innovation in the development of the digital city, Neogeography, and the mashups that accompany it, is the concept of the Digital Earth. Google Earth and to an increasing extent Microsoft’s Virtual Earth and NASA’s World Wind have produced 3D cities at a speed and resolution that was unimaginable only a few years  ago.

These cities act as layers for information, a rich canvas onto and into which information can be inserted and extracted at will over the network. In essence they act as ‘space inside the machine’, a space that can be iconic, photorealistic or multifaceted depending on a user’s preference. It is into this space that spatial analysis, digital geography and geographic information systems (GIS) operate as software for analysing space.

Indeed Hillier actually defines ‘space as the machine’. In a Web 2.0 world of increasing software and infinite capacity for information, we can import the city into the machine, digitally, in a recursive fashion whereby the machine actually becomes the ‘space’.

It is in these virtual and network spaces that people are building, creating and indeed occupying digital cities.

We will explore the concept of the Digital Earth and virtual environments such as Second Life later, but for now it is worth looking at the graphic ‘Where will the people go?’ adapted from the garden city movement, an approach to urban planning that was presented in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard.

The three magnets pull people between the Town and the Country. In today’s Web 2.0 world we have digital cities which are becoming increasingly populated and perhaps it is time for a new magnet – that of the Virtual Town-Country?

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