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Tim Stutts

User-generated mapping as social commentary

LivelyHood is a web application, where children explore perceptions of community, by drawing a map of their neighborhood, composed of the static structures and moving bodies that are a part of their day to day experience. A content uploading feature allows for the placement of relevant photos and text onto a separate layer of the map. The maps serve as location-based blogs that are continually updated by the child, with the intent of giving them a voice in urban planning.

Children ages 9 - 12, city planners, concerned citizens.

In creating this application in Java Processing, I aimed to implement programming concepts, such as inheritance, particles systems, and flocking behavior, that would make the application more than just a traditional paint tool. In doing so the world comes to life on the screen. Trees are bushy, factories pollute, people congregate around blocks, etc.

Identifying the mess of drawing tools in programs like Photoshop and Flash, I became interested in designing a more stealth graphical interface, that would allow for possibility and only make itself available as needed. In a process which I refer to as "draw then define," the user sketches onto the applet with a mouse, and upon release, the GUI makes itself visible, presenting the user with a table of options for defining the element type.

Once the elements are in place a user can save changes and leave their map on display within a web gallery, where other users can view the maps and offer up commentary. A user can login, revisit and add more content to the map whenever they choose.

Usage to LivelyHood isn't just limited to the desktop PC. By accessing the LivelyHood site via cellphone, users are able log in, and place photos and text on their maps, a process which can be accomplished out in the physical realm, as opposed to in front of a computer, thus giving users the benefit of being among the very objects that they are depicting or commenting on, as they add them to their maps.