Digital Remembering and Geolocation


Wikipedia advises that “Geolocation is the identification of the real-world geographic location of an object” and that it “may refer to the practice of assessing the location, or to the actual assessed location”.

Two prompts today set me off thinking about the memory of places … and people.

Aunty Doris

Google’s Street View provides rich information about location.

Google notes that “We automatically blur identifiable faces and license plates in Street View to protect individual privacy. We also provide easily accessible tools so you can request further blurring of any image that features yourself, your family, your car or your home. Learn about Street View’s privacy features and how to request the removal of images that feature inappropriate content.”

ADI wrote about Aunty Doris earlier this year.

Thanks to an alert from Aunty Doris’s grandson, Rhys, I found her on Street View. I wondered what the probability was of a street view vehicle passing Aunty Doris’s doorstep and finding her there cleaning it. Aunty Doris was 95 at the time of the photograph.

I think this is a fascinating example of digital remembering.

Dynamic Connections Map

Dennis Puniard shared with me a link to Schester’s post on dynamic connections mapping.

The post reports that “Rachel Smith, in collaboration with the urban design think tank BMW Guggenheim Lab, has launched a participatory spatial survey to crowd-source and crowd-solve the best bicycle routes in every city across the globe using an interactive user experience map”.

The Dynamic Connections Map allows riders “with varying capability (confident, regular, or potential) to rate streets where they live and work on their bicycle friendliness”. The map has been used very effectively in Berlin.

More information about the project can be found here. The aim is to crowdsource “the best and safest cycle routes” and to provide dynamic input into urban planning processes.


Photo Credits

Frame Grab Google Street View

Cycle lanes in/around Swords (Cian Gity, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Hometown Memories 1: Buckley in the 1950s

Dean Shareski was my most recent prompt to think about hometown memories. In his post he points out that:

Inspired by Doug Peterson, who was inspired by ZeFrank that then inspired Stephen Downes and others I’ve created a little video of my life growing up in Morden, Manitoba.  Thanks to the every growing database of Google Streetview, it’s now reaching even small towns like the one I grew up in. … the use of Google Maps/Streetview as storytelling tools is largely underused as Alan Levine has said a number of times. Watching Jim Groom’s video, was like literally like going for a walk with him.

Dean’s story about Morden incorporates:

about 3 Jing movies stitched together and then uploaded to blip and youtube. One take. No rehearsal or editing, other than adding a title and one image I had handy. It lacks polish but most of our stories aren’t rehearsed, they’re spontaneous accounts of memory. I’m not advocating for us not to edit and craft our stories but we need to have room for many kinds of stories, some polished and edited to death and some a little rough around the edges. Bottom line is we need more stories about significant experiences. Google maps and street view is powerful tool for that. I for one would be happy to take a walk with people sharing significant stories about places that have meaning.

I have lived in Australia for eight years but recently I had an opportunity to return to the town where I grew up with a new perspective thanks to Dean, Doug, ZeFrank, Stephen, Alan, Jim and Paul Hagon. Paul’s work had a deep impression on me as it was the first time I had understood the power of The Commons. When Doug’s post appeared I felt there was a real opportunity to develop this form of sharing learning biographies. Dean underscored for me the possibilities of creating “stories about significant experiences” and “about places that have meaning”.

I was born in Buckley in North Wales in 1952. Google Maps of present day Buckley show an urban sprawl. In the 1950s Buckley was a classical string settlement built upon the four roads leading to Buckley Cross. I lived in the middle of the town but was surrounded by green fields. There is a Buckley Society that shares the history of Buckley.

I lived in Park Road in a terrace of houses. In those days it was an unmade lane. The present day map shows my home as the last house next to a by pass.

My memories of the 1950s are focused on play. The lane was a remarkable place to play informal games of football and cricket. There were lots of children in Park Road. We played day and night. Two streetlights gave us floodlights and trained our eyesight so that catching became instinctive as did throwing at a target.

My school was six hundred yards away and before I got there in 1956 I was sneaking onto the playing field to use real goalposts for our football games. I played in a cup final there in my imagination and had an opportunity for a real final in 1961 when at the age of 9 I played in the Hardwick Shield final.

When not in the lane or at the school playing fields. We played on Buckley Common with coats as goal posts or at the Buckley Wanderers’ pitch in big goals with nets. All these were within a radius of 800 yards from my home.

Today the Buckley Common has been cleared and levelled.

and the field of dreams has long since become a car park for the local clinic and library.

My passion for sport was grounded in these very local play spaces. We had minimal equipment and remarkably long days of play. We adopted many roles in our play and games. All our activities were rich in vicarious play. With limited access to black and white television our imaginations ran wild.

I left primary school in 1963 and made the remarkable journey to the Mold Alun grammar School three miles away. At that time it was a very long way away by school bus. It was a transformation of my life chances too.  I had even more opportunities to participate in sport!