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"Now that we’re approaching the means to
capture and distribute highly detailed digital realities that include
interior spaces, it got me thinking more conceptually about the idea of
having a digital memory of place. This goes beyond the idea of a
geographic information system that incorporates time for temporal
analysis, toward more of a far-forward look at what our digital
memories of place might become."

PerspectivesWebHeader
 

Having recently attended both ASPRS and SPAR, I feel immersed in
remote sensing and geospatial data collection. Both events  included
much information about 3D data creation, storage and visualization, and
I saw many impressive presentations that showcased software tools that
are making inroads into navigable digital realities at a high degree of
realism.

It’s quite amazing how quickly technology is evolving to capture
large geographies in 3D. Now that we’re approaching the means to
capture and distribute highly detailed digital realities that include
interior spaces, it got me thinking more conceptually about the idea of
having a digital memory of place. This goes beyond the idea of a
geographic information system that incorporates time for temporal
analysis, toward more of a far-forward look at what our digital
memories of place might become.

I choose the term “memory” in part because of a recent Wired article
about a woman who has amazing recall of where she’s been and what she’s
seen.  What if we all had the capability to recall and visualize the
where and when instances from our past or visualize the changes that
occur in the environments around us through time. Exploring and sharing
the rich visual experience of change around us admittedly has some
creepy elements, but I’m betting the positive aspects of this awareness
will win out over time.

Lapsing Time

Time lapse photography provides a great visual representation of
change through time that gives a glimpse into how we might browse the
sped up activities that take place around us. The 1983 feature-length
film Koyaanisqatsi
left a lasting impression on me for its choreographed exposure of the
impact of technology on the environment, and for the many time lapse
sequences that speed time to illustrate change.

Another visual feast of Earth observation is the series Planet
Earth. The high-resolution views of flocking birds and other
large-scale animal interactions gives a compelling sense of the
activity of life on Earth that has yet to be adequately captured by any
computer system.

The future of digital memory will certainly include an ability to
visualize change in a similar time-lapse fashion, including windows
onto phenomenon that we may not readily see with our own eyes. Speeding
up or slowing down the world around us as it occurred will provide
tremendous insight when we can view the different triggers that have
brought about observable change.

Capturing Our Lives

Social media is altering how we capture the daily workings of our
lives. We seem compelled to adopt more and more means of recording the
minutia of our daily existence, including voice, pictures and daily
observations. The idea of a digital memory is an eventuality in light
of this growing compulsion to capture and collect our thoughts and
experiences.

The drive to record and relive events has been with us forever, but
we’re just beginning to realize the promise and capability of digital
storage and retrieval for this purpose. Search engines that can pull up
text or recorded words only scratch the surface of the searches that
will become possible when we can index and query the past as if it were
current reality.

Observations Enhanced

I recently re-read A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold in
which the author narrates the chronological observations of change on a
rural Wisconsin farm. Captured here in detail are the seasonal changes
of wildlife and plants on this piece of land, along with some of the
unique geological and topological features that make this land unique,
and glimpses into history of how the land has evolved.

These detailed observations of the natural world provide fascinating
insight that reads like a mystery novel as assumptions are tested based
on observations, and details of interactions are revealed. Just imagine
the capability to capture and parse all these interactions to visually
and quantifiably observe the workings of nature.

We have a broad conceptual understanding of earth system
interactions and we endeavor to manage our lands and hold on to
biological diversity. Despite our best efforts, there are many
threatened and endangered species, and the forces upon them are often
too large and too long in the making to turn around. There are also
many of these instances where we simply don’t know where to start.

As we continue to add to our observations and our ability to
visualize, analyze and explore these recordings, we may yet reach this
concept of a digital memory of place. And there will be many mind
boggling insights along the road toward this far-off goal.

REFERENCES

Koyaanisqatsi, while somewhat dated now, is viewable in full on YouTube

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

———————————————

Note: This column alternates weekly between Vector1 Media editors. Matt
Ball is editor Americas/Asia Pacific for V1 Magazine and V1 Energy
magazine.  

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