creativity · design · play · Social

Google Maps Easter Egg Lets Users Play Pac-Man on Real Streets – CityLab

Gamification of at least a virtual space:

For a limited time, you can finally experience Pac-Man on your favorite (or least favorite) place to navigate IRL. One of the best navigational easter eggs ever, Google Maps is currently letting users experience the world through the eyes of a Pac-Man.

Ever wished Namco created a Pierre L’Enfant-version of the arcade game? Well, D.C.’s Logan Circle now has all the Pac-Dots your Pac-Gut can handle.

more via Google Maps Easter Egg Lets Users Play Pac-Man on Real Streets – CityLab.

behavior · culture · design · emotion · happiness · technology

Daniele Quercia’s Happy maps and happier travelling

Can you map your happiness?

Mapping apps help us find the fastest route to where we’re going. But what if we’d rather wander? Researcher Daniele Quercia demos “happy maps” that take into account not only the route you want to take, but how you want to feel along the way.

watch via Daniele Quercia: Happy maps | Talk Video | TED.com.

Coincidentally, another researcher is also working on this problem, and creating maps that find the most relaxing routes based on people’s brainwaves:

MIT Media Lab’s Arlene Ducao is hoping to shed some light on which biking routes promise a more relaxing ride with her Mindreader Map. The project is a continuation of Ducao’s 2012 experiments involving a mind-controlled bicycle helmet that flashes different colors depending on the stress levels of the rider.

Using this type of data city planners could conceivably better plan bike lanes and traffic signals with an understanding of where the most stressful, and potentially dangerous, areas for cyclists are.

Have you changed your commute to be less stressful, even if it means a little longer ride or drive to work? Talk about it in the comments below.

anthropology · behavior · community · environment · happiness · Nature · psychology · technology

Mappiness: Mapping Happiness

A shot of the app.

From the blog How Do you Landscape; a group from the UK has created an app that can be used to measure our happiness based on our surroundings, and using maps to look at the data:

“People feel better outside than inside”. “People feel better in the park/woods/nature than in the city”. These are some of the conclusions from a project with the telling title ‘Mappiness’ Good news for landscape and Landscape Architecture on first sight. But are these only one-liners or firmly based scientific statements? Well, that depends on the quality of the empirical evidence of course. Most experience sample methods (ESM) have a hard time getting a representative group (in the end almost only colleagues) that has to struggle trough tedious interview forms (“it will take only twenty minutes”) to step-by-step end up with modest results. How about a sample group of 47.331 people (and growing by the day) who willingly support their data three times a day to the researchers that by now collected over three million forms in a few months? I stumbled upon these remarkable Experience research feats in a TedxBrighton 2011. In this “Twenty minutes lectureGeorge MacKerron explains why and how he and Susana Mourato (both from the Department of Geography & Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science) created ‘mappiness’. They want to better understand how people’s feelings are affected by features of their current environment. Things like air pollution, noise, and green spaces influence your well being is their hypothesis.

This is how it works. They developed an app that can be downloaded for free. It must be one of the most irritating apps around on the web because it rings you (with your approval, you can influence the settings) three times a day to ask you three simple questions.

When put through a big regression model they can gauge the happiness as the function of habitat type, activity, companionship, weather conditions (there is of course a link between meteorological data and the GPS data), daylight conditions, location type (in, out, home, work, etc), ambient noise level, time of the day, response speed, and individual ‘fixed-effects’ (that come out of your personal Mappiness-history). Factors can be plotted out against each other.

How awesome is that? What a neat piece of technology to measure our surroundings and how they influence us!

anthropology · behavior · community · emotion · happiness · Social

The State of Happiness in Washington State

Well, I was having a good day…but enough about me, what’s going on in with the rest of the world? Pretty miserable stuff, actually: Libyan rebels, Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, the government shut down barely avoided…well, how are individual states doing? Now we know! A map on alexdavies.net used Twitter to determine just how happy each of our fifty nifty states are. Illinois seems darned happy. Washingtonians are – apparently only kinda sorta happy. From the Seattle PI:

On a scale of one to 42 — where one is ecstatically mirthful — Washington state has a happiness index of 21. In other words, it could go either way.

A map from alexdavies.net uses Twitter keywords to pinpoint just how positive or negative states are.

So, if lots of people are using words like “love” and “amazing” when they tweet, their states might get a better ranking.

Oddly enough, sad words for Washington include “Phillies” and “presale,” according to the site. “Starcraft” and “gentleman” also show up as negative words.

Read more at alexdavies.net.