You may remember James from The Iraq War: A Historiography of Wikipedia Changelogs, his twelve-volume set of all changes to the Wikipedia article on the Iraq War from December 2004 to November 2009. Or as the chap who archived his first two years of twittering to a hardback book entitled My Life in Tweets. Maybe from one his many speaking engagements and/or consistently enjoyable ever growing number of projects…
His latest is Where the F**k Was I?, a beautiful looking book of 202 maps based on his iPhone tracked movements over the past year. In his explanation of the book he writes something so sweet that I started thinking about my phone with the same sad pang that I get when I think about the little dead Mars Rover, Spirit:
(Other aspects of the device’s place-making I enjoy: I love its hunger for new places, the inquisitive sensor blooming in new areas of the city, the way it stripes the streets of Sydney and Udaipur; new to me, new to the machine. It is opening its eyes and looking around, walking the streets beside me with the same surprise.)
Not as surprised as she’ll be when I wipe her little mind come September and replace her with the 5. What James is tapping into, literally, is the opportunity for these little Roy Batty’s to have a final monologue before we retire them.
James was also kind enough to let me play with his Robot Flaneur while he was still building it. A constant stream of the easily recognisable unfamiliar – a delightful tour of the city during a weekend that I was a little more stranded at my desk than usual. Now it has nine cities to get lost in and if you have a second screen please take advantage of it while you work/play.
Maybe make sure your phone can see the screen too.
*My latest phone is named Greta. After a ship I named for a screenplay who was in turn named after Garbo. And the clearwing butterfly (if the thing ever gets made, you’ll see why).