A Tale of Two Cities

In my role at MUSE3 I’m coordinating a couple of related mobile technology projects in Whistler and Vancouver’s Downtown East Side that lend themselves well to the “Tale of Two Cities” theme. While there are some interesting parallels between the Dickens novel of the same name and these two contemporary communities, my invocation of Dickens is not a wholehearted grafting of his story about class, revolution, and bureaucracy onto the present.

Rather, the title is a convenient placeholder for the following observations. There are many similar characteristics of Whistler and the DTES, despite their obvious differences in terms of relative affluence, their position in terms of the likely impact of the 2010 Olympics, and their wildly distinct public-facing reputations. What unites them reads roughly as follows (though I’m open to suggestions): the need to express a story about a place under rapid transformation, a place undergoing tremendous public attention, and a place that has not had an adequate opportunity as yet to proclaim its true identity properly to the world.

Both communities are ripe for the showcasing of how these communications goals might be achieved utilizing new media. And the transience of populations both homeless and under-housed (to varying degrees in both communities) resonates strongly with the fact that these new media are mobile.

Here’s my first satellite imagery mashup of the two communities:

Downtown East Whistler

While I’m not entirely happy with it (because Whistler occludes the poorest sections of the DTES, which the aesthetics of the two landscapes screamed for, even though in the end this simply will not do), I will be doing further Photoshop remixes of the two communities as we go along. Hopefully Nokia Maps will offer some really kludgy visual artifacts that I can screenshot and bring into the dialogue.

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