A framework of "place" for LBS design
Morning read in the train this morning was "A Framework of Place as a Tool for Designing Location-Based Applications" by Anna Vallgarda. The paper is about a "framework of place" defined through interviews with architects, that aims at informing the development of location-based applications. The author describes what are the structure and properties of place that are important for architects as potentially influencing the conception of "how human beings perceive their presence in place". The point is that developing applications based on context require the knowledge and meaning of the significant parameters of the place where it should work. That's why she reviews different "location models" (aura model, nexus model, etc). TRying to summarize the framework she describes lead me to:
"To recapitulate, the concept of place refers to the physical order of objects; it is the physical boundaries within which we act. This framework is an account of what such boundaries contain (and their potential attributes).
Atmosphere: Light: northern, southern, artiﬁcial or strong/weak or direct/indirect Color: cold/warm or strong/pale or red, yellow, blue Materials: concrete, tree, glass, stone, clay, tile or rough/soft Proportions: human scale or large industry building Shape: circular, square, blurred Vertical position: ﬂoor or altitude Temperature: Celsius or Fahrenheit Air/wind: clean air or wind speed Sound: machine, animal, human or high/low
Activities: Entrances: bodily, visual, audible or mediated/direct or easy/diﬃcult Functionality: bathroom, kitchen, playground Resources: power, water, gas, WiFi
Hierarchies: Social: home – community garden – town-hall square (enables social navigation) Proportion: house – apartment building – industrial area (enables physical/social navigation) Indoor/Outdoor; bed room – balcony – plaza (enables physical/social navigation)
Infrastructures: Type Modalities Measures Enables Bodily: foot, car etc. (measure: meters, miles) (enables movement, overview, social interactions) Visual: direct, mediated (measure: clarity) (enables: visual contact, overview, social interactions) Audible: direct, mediated (measure: decibel) (enables: audible contact, social interactions) Material: water, power etc. (measure: liters, voltage) (enables: various activities)"
Why do I blog this? as I am interested in the UX of location-based application, this sort of framework is interesting as it aims at "establishing a more nuanced notion of location", which is often a problem (as location is often limited to a dot on a map without any thoughts about granularity or contextual problems). As the author mentions,it would be good to complement it with environmental psychology, cultural geography, and anthropology.
It's also limited to indoor locations, I may find interesting to repeat this work and complement the model at the city level, with urban planners or transport/infrastructure practitioners for example.