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  • I have a confession to make.

  • As a scientist and engineer, I've focused on efficiency for many years.

  • But efficiency can be a cult,

  • and today I'd like to tell you about a journey

  • that moved me out of the cult and back to a far richer reality.

  • A few years ago, after finishing my Ph.D. in London, I moved to Boston.

  • I lived in Boston and worked in Cambridge.

  • I bought a racing bicycle that summer,

  • and I bicycled every day to work.

  • To find my way, I used my phone.

  • It sent me over Mass. Ave., Massachusetts Avenue,

  • the shortest route from Boston to Cambridge.

  • But after a month

  • that I was cycling every day on the car-packed Mass. Ave.,

  • I took a different route one day.

  • I'm not entirely sure why I took a different route that day, a detour.

  • I just remember a feeling of surprise;

  • surprise at finding a street with no cars,

  • as opposed to the nearby Mass. Ave. full of cars;

  • surprise at finding a street draped by leaves and surrounded by trees.

  • But after the feeling of surprise, I felt shame.

  • How could I have been so blind?

  • For an entire month,

  • I was so trapped in my mobile app

  • that a journey to work became one thing only:

  • the shortest path.

  • In this single journey, there was no thought

  • of enjoying the road,

  • no pleasure in connecting with nature,

  • no possibility of looking people in the eyes.

  • And why?

  • Because I was saving a minute out of my commute.

  • Now let me ask you: Am I alone here?

  • How many of you have never used a mapping app for finding directions?

  • Most of you, if not all, have.

  • And don't get me wrong -- mapping apps are the greatest game-changer

  • for encouraging people to explore the city.

  • You take your phone out and you know immediately where to go.

  • However, the app also assumes

  • there are only a handful of directions to the destination.

  • It has the power to make those handful of directions

  • the definitive direction to that destination.

  • After that experience, I changed.

  • I changed my research from traditional data-mining

  • to understanding how people experience the city.

  • I used computer science tools

  • to replicate social science experiments at scale, at web scale.

  • I became captivated by the beauty and genius

  • of traditional social science experiments

  • done by Jane Jacobs, Stanley Milgram, Kevin Lynch.

  • The result of that research has been the creation of new maps,

  • maps where you don't only find the shortest path, the blue one,

  • but also the most enjoyable path,

  • the red one.

  • How was that possible?

  • Einstein once said,

  • "Logic will get you from A to B.

  • Imagination will take you everywhere."

  • So with a bit of imagination,

  • we needed to understand

  • which parts of the city people find beautiful.

  • At the University of Cambridge, with colleagues,

  • we thought about this simple experiment.

  • If I were to show you these two urban scenes,

  • and I were to ask you which one is more beautiful,

  • which one would you say?

  • Don't be shy.

  • Who says A? Who says B?

  • Brilliant.

  • Based on that idea,

  • we built a crowdsourcing platform,

  • a web game.

  • Players are shown pairs of urban scenes,

  • and they're asked to choose which one is more beautiful, quiet and happy.

  • Based on thousands of user votes,

  • then we are able to see where consensus emerges.

  • We are able to see which are the urban scenes

  • that make people happy.

  • After that work, I joined Yahoo Labs,

  • and I teamed up with Luca and Rossano,

  • and together, we aggregated those winning locations in London

  • to build a new map of the city,

  • a cartography weighted for human emotions.

  • On this cartography, you're not only able to see and connect

  • from point A to point B the shortest segments,

  • but you're also able to see the happy segment,

  • the beautiful path, the quiet path.

  • In tests, participants found the happy, the beautiful, the quiet path

  • far more enjoyable than the shortest one,

  • and that just by adding a few minutes to travel time.

  • Participants also love to attach memories to places.

  • Shared memories -- that's where the old BBC building was;

  • and personal memories -- that's where I gave my first kiss.

  • They also recalled how some paths smelled and sounded.

  • So what if we had a mapping tool

  • that would return the most enjoyable routes

  • based not only on aesthetics

  • but also based on smell, sound, and memories?

  • That's where our research is going right now.

  • More generally, my research,

  • what it tries to do is avoid the danger of the single path,

  • to avoid robbing people of fully experiencing the city in which they live.

  • Walk the path through the park, not through the car park,

  • and you have an entirely different path.

  • Walk the path full of people you love

  • and not full of cars,

  • and you have an entirely different path.

  • It's that simple.

  • I would like to end with this thought:

  • do you remember "The Truman Show?"

  • It's a media satire in which a real person

  • doesn't know he's living in a fabricated world.

  • Perhaps we live in a world fabricated for efficiency.

  • Look at some of your daily habits,

  • and as Truman did in the movie, escape the fabricated world.

  • Why?

  • Well, if you think that adventure is dangerous, try routine. It's deadly.

  • Thank you.

I have a confession to make.

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B1 UK TED path shortest ave cambridge mapping

【TED】Daniele Quercia: Happy maps (Daniele Quercia: Happy maps)

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    CUChou posted on 2015/02/11
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