The "trace", as some designers and planners refer to them, are marketed and annotated tours that cover specific topics including waterfronts, historic districts and parks. Traditionally, they've been undertaken through marketing efforts and physical improvements such as signs, markers and designated trails. Until recently, they have been developed top-down with funding and the identification of historic markers and sites by specific organizations. Ken Snyder's excellent post
on the innovative uses of google in annotating local stories points to a different bottom-up approach. With inexpensive technologies, we are verging on a world where an individual can access personalized stories as well as designated tours for any City in the world. I've mentioned the likes of "murmur
" here before but other commercial applications are available including the Talking Street
. Combined with the further development of on-line mapping applications, a world where the complexity and richness of cities is clearly accessible and interactive is upon us . I'll call it an urban transparency.
Scott Page is the founder of Interface Studio, a collaborative design office based in Philadelphia.