In practice, the Urban Tapestries Project means giving people a specially-equipped mobile phone that allows them to wander around central London and leave virtual notes for other people to read by writing them on the phone and then ‘sticking’ them to a building. It works because the position of each phone is constantly tracked so when a note is written the place can be noted – when someone else goes to the same place, they can read the note.

Urban Tapestries is a research project exploring social and cultural uses of the convergence of place and mobile technologies. To investigate these issues we are conducting transdisciplinary research as well as building an experimental platform that allows people to author and access place-based content (text, audio and pictures). It is a framework for exploring and sharing experience and knowledge, for leaving and annotating ephemeral traces of peoples’ presence in the geography of the city.

The Urban Tapestries software platform allows people to author their own virtual annotations of the city, enabling a community’s collective memory to grow organically, allowing ordinary citizens to embed social knowledge in the new wireless landscape of the city. People can add new locations, location content and the ‘threads’ which link individual locations to local contexts, which are accessed via handheld devices such as PDAs and mobile phones.

Urban Tapestries seeks to understand why people would use emerging pervasive technologies, what they could do with them and how we can make this possible. It seeks to enable people as their own authors and agents, not merely as consumers of content provided to them by telecoms and media corporations. The project centres on a fundamental human desire to ‘map’ and ‘mark’ territory as part of belonging and of feeling a sense of ownership of our environment.

More here.