Archives for category: technolcity

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City

Farming the City

With the popularity of food trucksfood-apps, and pop-up restaurants, preoccupation with what we eat has never been greater. Along with our eating obsession, urban agriculture has been fervently adopted by conscious urbanites seeking to reconnect with their food. The principles that guide many urban agriculture projects and initiatives, however — a do-it-yourself ethos, a preference for bottom-up, community planning, and hyper-localized solutions — don’t lend themselves to the forming of a unified social movement capable of major change at a global scale.

Seeing an opportunity to unite the wide-ranging efforts of urban farmers worldwide, CITIES Magazine and Trancity have published Farming the City: Food as a Tool for Today’s UrbanisationFarming the City’s mission is to link international activists and thinkers to increase their potential for positive impact on society, actively ‘joining the dots’ between independent initiatives around the world. Farming the City provides a platform for knowledge-sharing, motivation and inspiration for the diversity urban farmers worldwide.

Farming the City

A central message of the book is how food can be used as a tool for urban development. With thoughtful planning, clustering and the facilitation of local food projects, the book argues that we can dismantle the urban paradox that “the closer we cluster together, the further removed we get from our sources of sustenance”. In an introduction by Carolyn Steel, UK-based architect and author of Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our LivesFarming the City sets a hopeful tone, proclaiming that “across the world’s cities, food is coming home”.

Farming the City

Farming the City establishes that urban agriculture is an inherently a bottom-up process. Urban agriculture is also “opportunistic by nature,” adapting to “the possibilites and limitations of the city”. Accordingly, municipal bureaucrats and planners should recognize this, and shift their role toward mapping where urban agriculture can take place, and facilitating the process of finding space.

Farming the City

The book is organized as a collection of essays by a variety of activities, thinkers and urban farmers, followed by case studies that elegantly straddle the line between thoughtful academic analysis, and accessible, engaging descriptions of projects around the world. The book is animated with beautifully designed infographics that illustrate important concepts, their consistent design unifying the diversity of projects. The infographics illuminate concepts such as Jan Jongert’s ‘Resilient City’, which argues for a reconnection of urban flows such as food, energy, water and money toward an integrated and regenerative city. Gro Holland, a company that supplies restaurants with mushrooms grown in coffee grinds collected from restaurants is a prime example of how to reintegrate urban flows.

Farming the City

Farming the City also includes a wide range of case studies from around the world, such as a history of FoodShare, a place-based food security organization in Toronto, and Debra Solomon and Mariska Van den Berg of Amsterdam’s Urbaniahoeve, a social design lab that specializes in bottom up transformations of public space into socially driven, edible urban foodscapes. Urbaniahoeve’s experience in establishing a ‘Foodscape’ in The Hague taught them that convincing decision makers is a lengthy process, but important in its bridging of cultural and professional gaps. Eventually, the struggle with municipal bureaucracy is always worth it in the establishment of productive landscapes, which bring increased activity in public space, increased social cohesion, an increase in biodiversity and, lots of delicious food!

Farming the City

Farming the City effectively takes a diversity of concepts and case studies around the world and distills them into clear recommendations as to how food could be used as a tool for urban development. Emphasizing a diversity of urban agricultures, Farming the City goes on to define the importance of establishing a ‘local food field’, something akin to the creative field that was all the rage with urban planners in the early 2000s. A spatially clustered food field, with its own set of urban demands, spatial articulations and social interdependencies is capable of filling voids in the city, and would encourage the emergence of new urban networks and communities.

Farming the City

Farming the City’s strength lies in its ability to shift between technical descriptions of best urban gardening practice on one hand, to broad ranging social theory on the other. By ‘joining the dots’ between both theory and practice, and international urban agriculture projects, the book firmly establishes an otherwise fragmented scene of city-gardeners as a broad social movement, capable of collaboration, support and inspiration.

Farming the City

The folks behind Farming the City have also created a website that acts as a natural extension of the book’s recommendations, translating them from prescription into action, and empowering and supporting local food projects. Launched in 2011, the Farming the City website is a platform for all things urban agriculture and includes an interactive map of urban agriculture initiatives around the world, a section for volunteers availabilities, tips on best gardening practices and negotiating bureaucracy, and listings highlighting available space for urban farming in cities around the world (including empty roofs, lots, parks). It is an accessible resource, that if widely adopted — perhaps becoming the Facebook of urban agriculture  – has the potential to meaningfully link international efforts to farm the city toward a unified global urban agriculture movement.

Farming the City: Food as a Tool for Today’s Urbanisation
Published and edited by Cities Magazine and Trancity
17 x 23 cm, paperback
240 pages, English
ISBN 978-90-78088-63-9
EUR 27.50

This post originally appeared on Volume

Ja Natuurlijk (Yes Naturally) is a collaborative art manifestation that is taking place at GEM,Fotomuseum and Gemeentemuseum in The Hague until August 18, 2013. Yes Naturally embraces the increasingly ambiguous space between our ideas of nature and society. The exhibit teases at this contemporary ambiguity, linking the diversity of works on display to two essential questions: What is natural? And who or what decides?

With Artistic Direction from Ine Gevers of Niet Normaal, Yes Naturally showcases international artists’ perspectives on the merging of natures and cultures, making its mission to “not distinguish between human[s], nature and technology.” Establishing at the outset that nature and culture are highly intertwined phenomena — more connected than discrete — the exhibit swiftly departs from old-school Western notions of society as wholly separate from nature, diving into a highly experimental realm between the fields of art and science. The viewer must quickly accept these basic principles –  that there is no such thing as artificial, that nature and culture are one in the same, that cities are ecosystems — or else be left out of the logic and insight provided by the exhibit.

Ja Natuurlijk

While the pieces that make up Yes Naturally range from the silly to the serious, they are all undeniably full of humour. Onslaughts of laughter are inevitable, and will lead to moments of clarity and a deep understanding that humanity and technology are indeed a part of, not apart from a broader terrestrial ecology. The jocularity of Yes Naturally brings with it hilarious and liberating cognizances.

While taking the traditional form of an art exhibit, Yes Naturally is more of a hybrid-species: an art-gallery meets science-museum meets fun-house. The exhibit is spread within the museum, with installations spilling over the walls and spread throughout the museums’ stately grounds. Visitors are first greeted to the exhibit by playful sculptures made from discarded plastic materials, adding colour to the museums’ ornamental pools. These large, floating artworks by Filipino artist-duo Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan are made up of thousands of waste materials that have been ritually transformed into fetishized objects made to protect species and places in nature.

Within the museum’s walls, Finnish artist Antti Laitinen’s video installation Bare Necessities is a humorous critique of the highly romanticized ideal of ‘going back to nature’. Laitinen takes this idea to its bitter end, and shares his experience of going into ‘the wild’ without supplies. Along with capturing humorous images of Laitinen, stark naked and struggling to make a fire, the videos include more solemn moments where the artist, staring blankly over the tree-topped horizon and into space considers the brutish and unforgiving reality of a life ‘back in nature’.

Bare Necessaties

Further into the exhibit, Bio-artist Egied Simons’ works are small aquatic ecosystems, complete with water, flora, and microscopic water-insects, and neatly contained within three aluminum boxes. The lids of the boxes reflect and magnify their contents, creating a luscious and fine grained pattern that looks like a romantic landscape painting when viewed from afar. Simons brings microscopic subject matter typically relegated to the realm of biology and life sciences to a wider audience. His work allows the viewer to gaze into the scientific/organic world of the micro, offering a powerful experience of the incredibly small beating hearts of snail embryos. With his highly contained ecosystems, Simons explores how science and magnification “makes the small tangible, instantly endowing it with significance and emotion”.

Egied Simons

Also making use of ‘living art’ but with a decidedly more political tone, Simon Starling’s Island of Weeds is a refuge for plants. Responding to the Scottish government’s regulation of the growth rhododendrons — introduced from Spain in 1763, and thus deemed a non-native species to be eradicated — Starling has constructed a safe asylum for the offender-organism. In doing so, Starling deconstructs the flawed concept of a ‘native’ plant species. In the context of a highly globalized world — where plant life need not yield to human-defined borders — Starling renders the Scottish government’s policy cruel and ridiculous.

Island of Weeds

While the humorous tones of the exhibit range from hopeful visions of the future, cynical critiques of the present, and appeals from social and environmental activists, Yes Naturally is above all an exercise in absurdity. Within this absurdity, its tricky and ambiguous subject matter is given room to breath, allowing its radical principles to be more readily accepted by its viewers. At the end of the exhibit, gazing over a sun-baked mass of plastic – a piece of the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch retrieved by Maarten vanden Eyed, the viewer is mentally prepared to accept  that plastic from this horrid pollution is natural, a sort of 21st century formation of coral. And while plankton are adapting to this new nature-culture rapidly, physically incorporating the plastic’s nutrients into their metabolism, so should we – conceptually.

Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch

As the visit to Yes Naturally comes to an end, visitors get a chance for final reflections with Finnish artist Tea Mäkipää‘s Petrol Engine Memorial Park. Lining the museum’s western wall, abandoned, rusty cars have been ornamentally transformed into large garden beds. Set in the near future, the installation’s plaques playfully proclaim the end of the ‘age of oil’. The car-garden beds triumphantly embrace an unmentioned new world order, fanciful flowers and plants grow organically upwards, embracing the sky – the antithesis of a world of pollution, petrol and plastics. As today’s cars rumble by on the busy city streets, the viewer can contemplate how a change in the order of things — from petrol-economies to something more sustainable, perhaps — necessarily must grow out of the old world order. Shedding the skin of the petrol age, this new age will take up its refuse and trash as resource, and make new out of it.

Petrol Engine Memorial Park

Petrol Engine Memorial Park

Many more works make up Ja Natuurlijk (Yes Naturally), each exploring how culture and nature can reinforce each other and in the process creates conditions for a better world. The exhibition, at the GEM Museum for Contemporary Art, Fotomuseum and Gemeentemuseum, is open until August 18.

The program for Yes Naturally consists of several events and exhibitions at several locations in The Hague. Be sure to take a look at the agenda since there’s a lot to do, see and explore.

Reblogged from

A Tunnel / A Mirror Facing A Mirror / A Goo.

Documenting the experience of space in Tokyo as the agglomeration approaches a moment of spatial singularity. What happens as our experience of discrete/categorised space dissolves and we enter a tunnel, an infinite regress or a functional goo? Writing and photographs by Cameron Allan McKean (contact Cameron in Tokyo). This blog is produced in collaboration with TOO MUCH: Magazine of Romantic Geography for the Dutch research collective MONNIK.

  1. Space is technology

    This blog is a place to deposit texts and images about the experience of an approaching spatial singularity in Tokyo. The experience of the home and work spaces being broken down further and further, stretched out across various sites in the city. Visualising space, not as the domain of architecture, design or urban planning, but as a form of techology.

    Tokyo has been chosen for field work as it is one of largest and densest cities in the world. It also forms the eastern beginning of the Tokaido Megalopolis, one of the largest unbroken stretches of urban development in the world. People residing in this belt are already living through a ‘Grey goo’ scenario, where, visually at least, the city seems to repeat itself every few hundred metres, for hundreds of kilometres. An infinite regression of tiles, roads, convenience stores and shrubs.

    These documents will explore all notions of the singularity extending out from one of the fathers of the singularity idea, mathematician and science fiction author Verner Vinge. The real goal is to see how this phenomenon is manifesting, and to capture the ways it is interfacing with the lived experience of Tokyo residents. If it is real, what does it mean for our ability to form meaningful categories about the spaces we live in? How do old terms like ‘living room’, ‘study’ and ‘dining room’ dissolve? How does the house itself dissolve? And how can we demarcate our individual selves once everything around us has been subsumed into the grey goo of the sprawl?

    The technological singularity was the idea that, according to Vinge “we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence,” and that “Shortly after, the human era will be ended.” Space itself is not sentient or intelligent, but the Tokaido Megalopolis seems to acts with selfish agency — sucking human resources from the hinterland and countryside, redirecting flows of information and goods towards itself (even when this redirection is costly, or damaging), encouraging focused policy and education directed at sustaining itself, and even separating groups from living together (groups that may threaten the spatial hegemony of the city) by encouraging single occupancy housing.

    If space is technology, what kind of machine is the Tokaido Belt?

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This poetic Tumblr post about the spatial singularity is part of the Still City Project: “The Still City Project investigates how we can move beyond the driving forces of our modern industrialized world; infinite economic growth, technologic progress and population growth. The project is a search for the ‘Still City’: an urban culture that is based on dynamics that are inclusive and sustainable. The ambition of the project is to find and make the images and stories we need to construct a post-growth urban society.” — read more

See also a city of continuously regenerating cells

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City

The urbanism blogosphere has been buzzing in anticipation of the release of SimCity 5. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you another application that does a fun job of simulating urban design. is a digital mixing board for the urban environment. It invites its users to create, mix and mash a streetscape with a wide array of typical road elements, such as bike and vehicle lanes, medians, boulevards, sidewalks and trees.

Do you live along a busy four lane thoroughfare, and want to see what it would be like if you chopped off two lanes of traffic to add bike lanes? Give it a shot! StreetMix lets you experiment and envision possible configurations that would improve the liveability your city’s streets. You can also be a silly with it, and create streetscapes that may never see the light of day – like a five lane, unidirectional bike highway, surrounded by trees! (Okay, maybe this exists somewhere in the Netherlands…).


The application contributes to the conversation community designers are having about ‘rightsizing’ streets: re-purposing a street to fit the needs of its users best. The intuitive interface promotes a change in thinking about our streets from something that is permanent, to something that can be flexible and adaptable. Since we can easily change the configuration of a road on StreetMix, we can in turn, start to think of our real streets as similarly able to quickly adapt to meet the changing needs of its users.


Since StreetMix limits the amount of elements you can put on your street it is a realistic simulation: streets can’t accommodate the needs of every type of user, and some sacrifices need to be made in their design. Easy access to cross-section diagrams previously limited to professionals also means that citizens are empowered to become the civil engineers and architects of the city.

As StreetMix was developed in five hours at a Code for America hackathon, it is still a work in progress, but it already demonstrates its potential impact on community planning and design. In the spirit of open-sourcing, StreetMix invites people to comment on the application, and suggest elements that should be included in its next version — edible boulevards, anyone?

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City

For the last 5 years on The Pop-Up City, we’ve been looking into trends and showing our readers the latest and best examples in creative, pop-up urbanism that are making our cities more sustainable, collaborative, and well — fun!

We are excited to announce that The Pop-Up City will be collaborating with The Hague’s Museon this summer on #stadvandetoekomst (#cityofthefuture, in Dutch), an exhibit that will take these trends and make them into an exciting and interactive experience. But before that, and with a cue from trends in urbanism, we are taking the exhibit “to the streets”, and will be hosting a series of six workshops to investigate – and crowdsource – what the city of the future will look like, and how it will work. We need your input!

Here are the six workshops, with times, dates and locations. The workshops are in Dutch, and are all free, with refreshments provided. So if you’re in The Hague or nearby in March or April, please join us! Space is limited for each workshop, so if you’re thinking of coming, please send us an email at

Justice to Go

Wednesday March 20th, 12:30-16:00, at Boksschool Houwaart, The Hague

Justice to Go

How will the city of the future be administered, and how differences of opinion and conflict be dealt with? Will new forms of micro-juridisction arise? Will a plug-in democracy emerge, that is more flexible, fair and fast? Can we organize Twitter-referendums? How can justice and democracy in the city of the future be more flexible and customized to meet the needs of its users? We need your input!

The workshop will be lead by Prof. Maurits Barendrecht, Prof Privaatrecht at the University of Tilburg and academic director of Hague Insitute for Internationalisation of Law, and will be visually supported by the designers of the Waarmakers. Interested? Send an email to

Urban Mobility

Thursday March 21st, 9:30-14:00, at Lola Bikes & Coffee, The Hague

Urban Mobility

What will transportation be like in the future? Will we drive electric cars, or will we be driving cars at all?  Will we use our bikes even more often and how will the bicycle change the city? How do we calculate the ‘Walkonomics’ rating of a city?

The workshop will be lead by Dr. Bert van Wee, Prof Transportbeleid at the TU Delft, and visually supported Ir. Han Dijk, urban designer at POSAD. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Interested? Please email!

Urban Play

Friday March 22nd, time T.B.A. shortly, at the ADO Kyocera Stadium, The Hague

Urban Play

How will we manage our spare time in the city of the future? Will sports become an even more integrated part of daily urban life? How can the city become more playful and more interactive? We need your input!

The workshop will be lead by Dr. Angelique Lombarts, Lector City Marketing & Leisure Management at Hogeschool, and will be visually supported by Ir. Ergün Erkoçu, architect and creative director of CONCEPT0031. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Please send an email to if you’d like to participate.

Pop-Up Living

Monday March 25th, 12:30-15:00, at Stroom, The Hague

Pop-Up Living

How will the city of the future change our homes? Will houses be able to pop-up anywhere and assume a wide variety of forms? What new functions will they be capable of? Will we manufacture our things at home? Will we increasingly work from home, and will nature find its way into our living room? Will we withdraw into our cocoons or will we become city nomads? How can we make our cocoons as sustainable as possible? We need your input!

The workshop will be lead by Ir. Marieke Tobias, architect and founder of Studio Tobias Architectenbureau, and will be visually supported by Linda Buijsman, architect at Upfrnt. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Please send an email to if you’d like to participate.

Shared Economy

Wednesday March 27th, 14:30-18:00, at Creatief Warenhuis Hoop, The Hague

Shared Economy

This workshop will look at new economic forms that are quickly rising and their role in the city of the future. Do companies still need office space? Is ‘giving away’ a new economic model? How do you combine ideals with entrepreneurship? With the success of Airbnb, and the emergence of 3D printing, how large will the shared economy turn out to be? If it becomes the norm, everyone will be customer, manufacturer and micro-entrepeneur at the same time. Will we soon be able to pay with tweets?

The workshop will be lead by Dr. Saskia Harkema, expert in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and will be visually supported by architect and landscape designer Ir. Wolbert van Dijk. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Please send an email to if you’d like to participate.

The Natural City

Wednesday April 10th, 13:30-17:00, at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (KABK), The Hague

Natural City

What role will nature and sustainability play in the city of the future? How do we adapt/prepare for the changes in climate and sea level? Should we grow moss on our facades? Should unpaved roads return to our urban streetscape? Or should we farm on our rooftops? Rooftop farms were a utopian idea only five years ago, but now every city has them. How will they develop in 30 years? We need your input!

The workshop will be lead by Evert Kolpa, co-founder of architectural firm Van Bergen Kolpa. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Interested? Please email!

Cross-posted from the Pop-Up City

Many companies and organizations have taken advantage of a crowdsourcing model to gauge public opinion on a wide range of questions. Now, the government is doing it. Last April, residents of Helsinki were given the opportunity to use a pop-up touch screen to “Like” a proposal for a government funded Guggenheim museum in their city (unlike Facebook, the screens also featured a ‘Dislike’ button, giving the opposition an opportunity to be heard as well.)

The campaign came from advertising agency HeyDay, as part of an award winning media strategy. Working with outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux, HeyDay set up two booths featuring touch screens close to the site where the Guggenheim was proposing to develop a Helsinki branch of its museum. The voting stations proved to be a popular way for people to engage with an important civic issue. On the first day of opening, the booths registered several thousand votes with the dislikes 35% higher than the likes.

Facebook democracy in Helsinki

But, even with a one second delay to dissuade double-voting, the Helsinki touch screens had no way of stopping users from repeatedly casting a vote to skew the results. As a result, the votes were not binding,  but the outcome could have potentially boosted the winning side’s argument. Even if the votes weren’t official, the visibility and playfulness of the touch screens encouraged people to engage with an important civic issue. Also, a government’s adoption of Facebook-style referendums marks a huge shift in the way we interact with the state.

It’s also interesting that HeyDay chose to place the touch screens near the proposed site of the museum. The vote could have easily taken place online, with no physical “on-site” component. The pop up touch screens show that even with the ability to have conversations and make decisions on the internet, the physical location of the museum remained a very important element of the decision: place matters!

In the end, the Guggenheim plan was rejected by Helsinki’s municipal government. Does this mark the end of starchitecture in the face of crowdsourced urbanism?

I love the colours of Amsterdam. The 17th century structures along the city’s canals are made from materials that are deep maroon, red and rich purply black.

Amsterdam Colours imagined

I put the above colour field together to simply represent the lovely palette of this city.

Amsterdam Colour Field Real

The second graphic represents the “real” colours of Amsterdam, and was made using digital photographs of the city and Adobe Illustrator’s eye-dropper tool. The eye-dropper lets you select colours from digital images and use them to colour other objects in your project.

Screen shot 2013-02-16 at 6.12.43 PM

(The second graphic, the real colours of Amsterdam, are much more dull. Maybe it’s because my camera wasn’t able to capture the scene well, or maybe it’s because reality is a lot more vibrant when imagined.)

I like the eye-dropper tool. It is the digital equivalent of the photo-mechanic process that gave analog photographs so much aura. As they are essentially traces of light that entered a camera when it was pointed at a particular time and space, analog photographs are fundamentally connected to their subject matter. The presence of the photographed, the aura of the moment when it was captured, can be felt.

Digital photographs have lost their aura: they are less fundamentally connected to their subject matter. The digital process of visually recording space is complicated, obscuring the connection between the photographer, the camera and the photographed. Also, the mass- reproducibility of a digital image makes it seem far less connected to its subject. If not printed, where does a digital photograph exist?

After these thoughts is a good opportunity to reconsider the second colour field, the one of the “real” colours of Amsterdam. Can you feel its aura?

Cross-posted from the Pop-Up City

Creative foodies of the world (re)unite! On February 17th, from Amsterdam to TorontoPoznań to Paris, people will be congregating in art galleries and parks, sidewalks and beaches to meet, eat, and celebrate the next edition of International Restaurant Day.

Restaurant Day began in Helsinki in May 2011 when people with a love of food decided to go around the city’s bureaucratic regulations and open their own one-day restaurants en masse. Since the first 40 restaurants popped-up in a wide range of re-imagined urban spaces across Finland, Restaurant Day has expanded to 689 restaurants in 131 cities and 25 countries that have quickly adopted to this new Finnish tradition. Restaurant Day’s website and app, have interactive maps that makes finding pop-up restaurants in your city and around the world easy.

Restaurant Day

Restaurant Day nourishes the intersection of food and pop-up urbanism that we love, encouraging people to engage with their cities creatively by making spaces to gather, connect and eat. Anyone can open a restaurant, anywhere, and some quirky endeavours have inevitably surfaced, like a sandwich bar in Helsinki that served bread in a basket from a third floor apartment window!

Restaurant Day

But your restaurant doesn’t need to be over-the-top. The most successful pop-up cafés are often the simplest: table cloths elegantly draped over long tables that stretch laterally along the street, food made with care from freshest ingredients, and any excuse to linger and enjoy city spaces that are often only passed through. Though this upcoming edition may see less outdoor pop-ups in more northern countries, the weather hasn’t deterred the world’s fervent adoption of Restaurant Day.

Restaurant Day

February 17th in Amsterdam will see thirteen restaurants popping up all over the city. Mostly indoors, creative one-day restauranteurs will be offering delights ranging from expensive, fine dining experiences, to creative re-imaginations of the cheapest ingredients. Outdoor dining opportunities are available, of course, and people will be bracing the cold for an organic pig-roast in the Westerpark!

Once the dust settles on Sunday evening, for those that can’t wait for the next Restaurant Day (the next one is in May), the Pop-Up City thought it would be a good opportunity to share another website that allows people to creatively gather around food year round.


Thuisafgehaald and its English counterpart Shareyourmeal are meal sharing websites bring another dimension to food and the peer-to-peer economy. The website allows you to share your home-cooked meals with people in your neighbourhood (and of course, you can also participate by simply eating your neighbours’ food). The website maps nearby kitchens, gives descriptions of what’s on the stove, and includes prices, photos and reviews. Though it hasn’t quite taken off in North America, Thuisafgehaald is exploding with popularity in the Netherlands, the UK, and the Czech Republic.


Whether it’s safely from your own kitchen, or out on the streets, parks and sidewalks, Restaurant Day and Thuisafgehaald show that it’s easy to transform our cities into landscapes of delicious food and imaginative places to eat, meet others and explore. These projects make use of technology to break down the traditional barriers between restauranteur and restaurantee, and are signs of the exciting and constant evolution of the peer to peer economy.

Cross-posted from the Pop-Up City

The Pop-Up City is always interested in mobile apps that create new experiences of the city. So when Wikipedia, the most popular source for all things information announced its spatial-debut, we paid attention. Wikipedia recently introduced its GeoData extension. This streamlined, centralized source for geographic information means that ‘mapping Wikipedia’ is about to explode.

There have been past attempts to map Wikipedia, but they fell short in their reliance on a static source for data. As you can see with this map showing word counts of articles geo-tagged in Amsterdam, it is based on a fixed source, relying on the mere 5% of Wikipedia articles that had spatial coordinates then. The other maps of Europe are similarly static.

Wikipedia Nearby

Wikipedia Nearby

Europe word count

With Wikipedia’s new and easily accessible source for geographic data, articles and images can be quickly geo-tagged. The number of Wikipedia articles with spatial coordinates are bound to increase hugely. The new initiative will also enable developers to mine and map the data, and create new apps quickly and easily: the possibilities are endless!

Wikipedia NearbyWikipedia Nearby

The first use of this new spatial database will be an improvement of Wikipedia’s mobile app and its Nearby add-on. The GPS-enabled Nearby shows you a list of Wikipedia entries close to your current location. Want to know more about your city, your neighbourhood or your favorite shopping street? Check Nearby for places, monuments, and events that you’ve probably never heard of! The app also will be able to show users which articles nearby are in need of photos, directing people towards needed additions.

Wikipedia Nearby

Wikipedia’s entrance into the world of spatial data, alongside popular location-based apps such as Foursquare, means that it will continue to strengthen itself as the main source of information. We’re excited to see what developers will do with this new wealth of location-based information, and hope that someone will take mapping Wikipedia all the way by making use of Augmented Reality!

Cross-posted from the Pop-Up City

You read on the Pop-Up City how urban farming is becoming a serious and profitable business in many cities around the world. But of course, a large part of this movement is maintaining its DIY roots.

Hawaii-based Eating in Public’s Seed-Sharing stations are unmonitored installations that have started to pop up all over the USA and Canada. They offer an easily accessible space for urban gardeners to exchange seeds and important information about how to best grow their fruits and veggies.

Seed-Sharing StationSeed-Sharing Station

In response to companies putting patents on the growing of food, Eating in Public wants to promote a pay-free fruit and vegetable seed exchange. As a participant, you could swap your heritage tomato seeds for a rare breed of melon, and learn what soil conditions, watering-cycles and amount of shade is needed to take care of them. Seed-Sharing stations can be installed in a variety of spaces, as long as they are accessible locations with “lots of traffic and used by people of diverse populations”: outdoor public spaces, busy indoor space, and even art galleries!

Seed-Sharing Station

All stations are built out of scrap and repurposed material. Anyone can adopt a Seed-Sharing Station or easily build one themselves: Eating in Public’s website offers a downloadable, easy-to-use design guide, with a variety of models ranging from the temporary (‘The Tag Along’) to the more permanent (‘The Wallflower’).

Despite being made from scrap material, they are uniformly stylish and, with the Seed-Sharing station logo & Eating in Public website stamped on each installation, maintain consistent design no matter where they are in the world.

Seed-Sharing Station

Each Seed-Sharing station is designed individually to fit the specificity of its context, another example of how ‘local’ grassroots initiatives to improve the city are actually part of a global urban culture, with identical projects stemming from wide-spread ideas made possible by the internet. Each Seed-Sharing station is slightly different to meet the needs of its community, but they are all “branded” as part of Eating in Public, with the same logos and explanations.

Whether it’s big urban agribusiness, small scale guerilla gardening or DIY seed swapping stations, the reality of urban farming continues to express itself in every nook and cranny of the city.

Several months ago, your Urban Geographer culture jammed his way through the streets and bathroom-stalls of Tall-ronto, QaRt coding  his and all his friends’ faces wherever and anywhere.

Some thoughts since then:

QR codes are on the wane — I think. Already there is technology that allows one to scan an image, any image, and that is enough to link online, to a website. We’re there already, folks — one step closer to the Internet-Reality, a total World-Wide-Web-geography, heading toward a future where the city blends into the internet, without anyone even realizin’… yet the QR code persists as an icon of these transitional days. Perhaps we aren’t ready to accept that anything, everything? might somehow trigger the internet. Another case of cultural inertia. Perhaps those black and white pixels are a source of comfort in this time of great transformation — they keep it real, somehow, contained — it’s okay, because only the old fashioned pixelated thing will lead us to the internet — the internet is kept at bay, right?

Another thought:

QR codes seem to be incredibly popular in Toronto, but not in other cities. Case in point: Halifax. Another one? NYC including Brooklyn.

Well, those are the only cities I’ve been to since my 2012 Toronto-times.

But it does indeed seem odd that not even New York would have QR-fever. It looks like we’ve got e a place-specific technology fetish, and readers, I’m not at all surprised with where it’s located. What with Toronto being the city of Now — the economic frontier of the Western World — it’s no longer  that old 20th century maxim, “I’m headin’ West baby” only the fresh new “I’m goin’ West but no further than Tall-ronto” kind of economy frontier. It only makes sense that such a current technology, you know, the one that links physical reality with the internet could be squarely found in the gridded streets of T-o-r-o-n-t-o.


The internet has leaked several QaRt Code spottings my way. They’ve come my way by way of my formal online social networks which leads me to the conclusion that many people have snapped photos of  (or simply talked about) those devilish smiling pixelated faces and shared them with their friends. 

Here are some of the spottin’s I’ve spotted:

From facebook:

And another, from facebook:

And here’s one… from Twitter !

And one more… from Facebook
(Leading photo is from my brother’s facebook…)

…  scan it to see what I mean …