Techies may want to check out an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.
An exhibit opening Sunday at MoMA will focus on technology and how people and designers cope with it. "Design and the Elastic Mind," will include works created by researchers at MIT.
Some of the works come from researchers at the SENSEable City Laboratory at MIT. The researchers created a project called New York Talk Exchange (NYTE), which visualizes data patterns that reflect the telecommunications traffic flow in and out of New York City. Their three large visualizations, using measurements of the volume of Internet protocol and voice traffic from AT&T's network, will hang at MoMA and be featured on the SENSEable City Laboratory's Web site.
"It is like showing how the heart of New York pulsates in real time and how it connects with the global network of cities," Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Laboratory and associate professor of the practice of urban technologies at MIT, said in a statement.
The first visualization, called Globe Encounters, uses 3-D real-time animations to show New York's connections to other cities. The second, called Pulse of the Planet, shows how global connections between "the city that never sleeps" and those in other time zones fluctuate over 24 hours. The third piece examines global connections down to the borough and neighborhood level.
"We are interested in visualizing and exploring the connections that New York entertains with the rest of the world, how they change over the course of a day, and how the city's neighborhoods differ from each other by maintaining special and distinct relationships with particular cities and countries," Kristian Kloeckl, project leader at the SENSEable City Laboratory, said in a statement.
The project uncovered some interesting patterns of communication.
Columbia University professor Saskia Sassen, author of the book Global Cities, explained in the NYTE catalog that "global talk happens both at the top of the economy and at its lower end. The vast middle layers of our society are far less global; the middle talks mostly nationally and locally."
MIT's data also seems to contradict a common notion that London is more cosmopolitan than New York. British Telecom patterns show that Londoners stay connected with Europe and the United States, while New Yorkers retain stronger communication ties to major cities in Asia and South America.
Kloeckl said individual privacy is protected and that traffic is measured on a grand scale, without collection of individual information.
The MIT team hopes to examine how the structure of global cities is evolving, how telecommunications data can shed light on the dynamics of globalization, how byte transfers affect the need for travel and physical displacement, and whether that information can lead to ideas on global sustainability.
"Our cursory analysis illustrates how telecom data can help us to expand our conception of global cities and their role in the process of globalization," said Ratti. "In the end, the NYTE project reveals as much about the city of New York as it does about its worldwide counterparts, in areas such as business, culture, and immigration. In other words, our visualizations demonstrate that in the information age, urban life is as global as it is local."
AT&T Labs supports the project and said it can help predict how telecommunications needs may evolve.