Invisible, Hidden, Parallel Cities: Twitter Landscapes

By revealing the social networks present within the urban environment, Invisible Cities describes a new kind of city—a city of the mind. The movie below by Christian Marc Schmidt displays geocoded activity from online services such as Twitter and Flickr, both in real-time and in aggregate. Real-time activity is represented as individual nodes that appear whenever a message or image is posted. Aggregate activity is reflected in the underlying terrain: over time, the landscape warps as data is accrued, creating hills and valleys representing areas with high and low densities of data.

In the piece, nodes are connected by narrative threads, based on themes emerging from the overlaid information. These pathways create dense meta-networks of meaning, blanketing the terrain and connecting disparate areas of the city:

Invisible Cities maps information from one realm—online social networks—to another: an immersive, three dimensional space. In doing so, the piece creates a parallel experience to the physical urban environment. The interplay between the aggregate and the real-time recreates the kind of dynamics present within the physical world, where the city is both a vessel for and a product of human activity. It is ultimately a parallel city of intersections, discovery, and memory, and a medium for experiencing the physical environment anew.

Our movie below of London’s Tweets displays a similar ‘hidden city’:


As we posted a few weeks ago, we have been harvesting geospatial data from Twitter with the aim of creating a series of new city maps based on Twitter data. Via a radius of 30km around New York, London, Paris, Munich we have collated the number of Tweets and created our New City Landscape Maps. The maps created by UrbanTick detail the social networking landscaping.
Pictured above is London, below is New York:
UrbanTick has the full run down with New York, London, Paris and Munich, all available in glorious full screen mode via a Google Maps viewer – head over to take a look at the New City Landscapes.
Thanks got to Steven Gray who did the coding and Fabian over at Urban Tick for converting the data into maps. Also thanks to Dr Chris Speed who sent in the invisible cities movie link.

Author Bio

Andy is Director of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous - August 4, 2010

    This is interesting, though I find a little disturbing the people tweeting from the middle of the runway at Heathrow airport in the London twitter cliud film- that’s either groundstaff not concentrating, pilots not flying, or passengers not turning off their phones…!

  2. Ulises M-T (@CarnivalesquePK) - July 7, 2013

    How were you able to do this?

    “As we posted a few weeks ago, we have been harvesting geospatial data from Twitter with the aim of creating a series of new city maps based on Twitter data.”

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