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The citymurmur project [citymurmur.org] attempts to map the conceptual and cultural layers of urban space based on media aggregation. The web application perdiodically scans the text of online news items for place or street names in the city of interest, and extracts keywords and categories. The resulting combination of conceptual and geographical information can be explored in map overlays - for instance highlighting all streets with news about "Jazz" - and network diagrams (click the "switch" button), which relates the extracted terms to each other based on the geographic information. As the news sources range from international and national media to local and neighborhood sources, it is quite interesting to see which parts of the city are in fact covered by which types of media, and to what amount.

The project originated at last year's visualizar workshop, mapping the media in Madrid. This year, it was at display at the Emerging Technologies exhibition at SIGGRAPH09, with New Orleans as the object of interest. According to Gaia Scagnetti, one of the designers involved in the project, keywords like 'rebuilt' or 'music' were characteristic in this new context, but it was also interesting to see the much higher volume of local and neighborhood news sources in New Orleans.

This post was written by Moritz Stefaner, a researcher and freelance practitioner on the crossroads of design and information visualization. Occasionally, he blogs at well-formed-data.net.

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