Between January & September 2007 I worked on Location:Sensation:

An exploration of Locations in time and space and recordings of the Sensations found there.

Then my new HP laptop had a keyboard issue, and HP wound up keeping it for over half a year, thus ending the nascent project. The piles of sense data I’d collected now languished on the laptop, on the website, or in small paper notebooks where I’d meticulously chronicled it.

a collection of environmental sensors
Sensors, circa 2007. Photo & concept by Tamara Williams.

Location::Sensation 2016

And today the conflux of 5 things has inspired me to launch a new Location::Sensation1.

  1. A Hang Tag
  2. A Student Activity
  3. A Medium Article
  4. A Conversation with Marta
  5. A lot of Sensor Apps

photo of a Reef Flip Flops hang tag with GPS coordinates
Hang Tag, Reef Flip Flops, with GPS Coordinates. Photo by Tamara Williams.

A Hang Tag

I bought a new pair of flip flops and the hang tag had GPS coordinates on it.

A Student Activity

As part of their thinking about game design, location based gaming, and alternate reality gaming, my students did a little geocaching this semester.

A Medium Article

A few days ago Tristan de Montebello published a great piece on Medium: What are people working on in coffee shops?

A Conversation with Marta

In a recent letter to Marta I found myself talking about Trackable Things.

A lot of Sensor Apps

Back in ’07 we didn’t carry supercomputers in our pockets. Back in ’07 if you wanted to measure light level, or sound level, or collect magnetometry data, or gps location data, or XYZ compass data, each of these things was a separate box you had to buy for hundreds of dollars. Today we have smartphones. Today we carry supercomputers & sensor arrays in our pockets.

photo of my old 2007 Location:Sensation log books
Log books, 2007. Photo by Tamara Williams.

Moving Forward

I think it’s too tedious and too painful to go back and try to resurrect the 2007 project. Or possibly I’m just too lazy. In any case while the heart of it remains, I think the project will be different.

I won’t drag a bag with thousands of dollars of sensors around. I’ll just take my phone. And while I like the idea of going to inspiring vistas like the mountains or the ocean, of going hiking or kayaking, I think this ’16 Location::Sensation wants to visit with semi-nomadic digiterati2. So while I won’t need a bag full of sensors, I will need coffee shops or other places that are WiFi enabled.

Is your spot hot?

When my mom was at the better-than-average Park Regency rehab center in February & March I was struck that all she got at her bed was a TV Remote and a Landline. Of course I wanted neither. I wanted Broadband! Two of my pet peeves are why anybody feels the need to silo their data or ideas in the proprietary wrappers of companies like Adobe, Microsoft, et al (.pdf, .docx, et al) and why anybody thinks the taste of their food or drink trumps being too lazy to offer their guests WiFi access. So L::S’16 wants to be visits with peeps at the WiFi hotspots of the world.

Up Periscope

Periscope and a zillion other streaming, sharing, interacting tools have surfaced this side of 2007. We may be Bowling Alone, but we sure are connected when we do it. In the curious world of ASMR videos we have a Spike Jonze’ Her-like spectre of ubiquitous intimacy. The Baby Boomers had orgies. Millennials have social media.

All of which is just my way of saying that I think Location::Sensation’16 wants to be not just be collections of data, of footcandles and sound samples, but that it should also be about people. About meeting. About interacting.

Stay Tuned

Data is… incoming…

My collection of sensors circa 2007
Spotmeter, CO2 meter, GPS unit, Sound Pressure Level meter, Wind meter, Flash Meter, Weather array, RF Meter, Sound Meter. Photo by Tamara Williams.


  1. What’s with the conceit of the double colon? I think of a traditional single colon as a one-way operator, like a diode. I think of the double-colon as an operator that functions more like an amplifier or transistor. So the product of Location:Sensation can only be Location:Sensation. By contrast the product of Location::Sensation can be Location:Sensation as well as Sensation:Location. 
  2. IDK if laptopping in a coffee haus qualifies as being a “digiterati” in the late date of 2016. If that’s all it takes to qualify, then doesn’t everyone in the global north qualify? Not sure. But my mom has had lots of computers and you’ll definitely never find her in a coffee haus with a laptop. So I guess I’ll call these mobile denizens “digerati.” Is “mobile denizen” an oxymoron? I’m not really sure about that either.