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I was in for a couple of surprises when I went on a whale cruise at Port Macquarie. First flashed through my mind the thought that I had seen these animals before. Then it hit me that it was still quite bizarre to see them for real and indeed from up close. Next I was entertained by the captain who was very well trained in giving us tourist our money’s worth. He was skilled in counting down the seconds that a whale would stay under water before coming up for a stunning bridge: a jump out of the water. Good pictures guaranteed and I suddenly understood why I had seen so many good pictures of the big mammals in my life. It does not require a professional photographer to take one.

Humpback whale at Port Macquarie.

Practicing my aim while glancing over my camera to get the best moment, I was practiced enough to take one of my own after two or three bridges. Satisfied, I resolved to turning my camera off, to enjoy the movement of our small boat on the sea waves, the splatters of the salty water and the sight of nature in front of my eyes. It was a little amusing to see the other passengers still glued to their screens. This amusement turned into surprise when my friend who had not parted with her camera either, asked me to send her my picture because she did not get one good shot!

A data visualisation project by photographer Eric Fischer has enabled an analysis of city routes taken by tourists and locals. Combining geotag data with login information, he was able to define if the photographers were living in the specific city permanently (blue) or lived somewhere else and only uploaded pictures from that place for less than a month (red). Yellow tracks are Flickr users who could not be connected to a home city through this logic, but are probably tourists as well. This creates a beautiful visual medley of city data:

Locals and tourists maps of the biggest cities ordered according to uploads by locals.

Looking at the map for my home town, Utrecht, confirms the cliché conception I have of tourists in the city: They always seem to walk in the way when I need to cross the Oudegracht, the old canal running through the inner city with an s-bend in the middle. This is the part of the centre where the historic architecture is most visible, therefore very attractive for visitors.

Locals seem to take other paths through the city as well. Or they share these routes with tourists but also use their cameras on their way, while tourists think these surroundings are not worth to be recorded, which is another possibility.

Map of Utrecht city centre, note the red curvy line from North to South

Nevertheless, a colleague mentioned another story. In Barcelona, the same type of data visualisation but then based on phone calls with foreign numbers, is used by the municipality to adjust tourist policy strategies.

Map of Barcelona, tourist activities are marked red.

Objective: Develop a tactile toy for children between 6-7 years to learn language. Allowing them to ‘catch’ and ‘order’ words. This is one of the results of an evening of brainstorming and paper prototyping:

Modular telescope prototype.

It is a tool that is made up of different modules, allowing the children to capture objects, showing them to their classmates and telling a story about them. Turning the closed tubes up and down facilitates guessing games based on the sound the caught treasure makes. Other parts allow the taking of photographs, or have a display to show the pictures that are taken. Combining different hollow containers (object in display-tube placed behind a window-part) creates a cumulative experience of several aspects of one object-word.

The module sizes allow the sliding of parts into each other, creating one single tube that can be easily carried with a strap on the back. Connecting the corresponding cylinders allows for the creation of a network (with branching elements) enabling a game of sending words (‘Chinese whisper’), sorting objects in different categories and racing games along the coloured path.

Tweets (Dutch and English)