A traditional approach to describing a person might use a biographical style as in the previous posts, but can words capture everything about us that makes us who we are? Can we explore other less traditional ways to paint a description? With this in mind, for the past year and a half I’ve tried mapping my exact geographical position, using GPS coordinates, every ten seconds, when I’m out and about and travelling around my city. Can this start to explain “who I am” by describing where I’ve been? Do I learn anything from looking at the results?!
So far it’s been interesting to see my meanderings across the city, to pick out the densest routes which describe the most frequent journeys, and to see where I’ve gotten lost when trying to find my destination. What I find quite interesting is to ask: In fifty years time, will this tell me something about myself that I’ve forgotten? Will it trigger memories that are long gone, but that suddenly bring a smell or noise to mind?
I think that the biggest challenge for any design problem is formulating the brief, and inevitably this comes down to putting pen to paper to try and express in writing what we feel are the user’s functional needs. But does this process restrict what we say and think about; does it try and rationalise a contingent, often abstract set of needs? The beauty of a map is that it can record whatever you want: smells, times, populations or feelings; in this case I’ve mapped something as traditional as geographical location, but its real value comes in what it says to me. It’s not just 23,0360 coordinates, 828 bus trips, and 448 tube journeys; it’s part of who I’ve been for the last year and a half.