The internet may be amorphous machine , somewhat chaotic it breadth and depth but it also lends itself to very fast and quick generation of trends and directions in human communications and where and what people do virtually is able to be mapped as lines , hubs, converging rails and directional lines.
With 882 stations on 14 lines, Tokyo’s subway system is one of the largest — and busiest — in all the world. The system map is a twisted mass of lines and stations. Consider this : Shinjuku one of the largest — and busiest stations in the world is the main hub for 12 different lines that link central Tokyo and its western suburbs. Approximately 3.6 million people pass through the station each day. It has four concourses, eight department stores, three dozen tracks and more than 200 exits.
The images I hold in my mind have of the Tokyo subway system are nothing short of mass commuting on a grand scale with little or no respect personal space and that my idea of crowded pales as comfy . The western concept of the having an invisible barrier that creates an magic space or outer boundary around your body goes out of the window when you hear of whited gloved station attendants, called oshiya – literally, “pusher” politely but firmly shoving people into the cars or with special human” herding sticks” to squeeze commuters onto already seemingly full trains. Its a remarkably efficient mass transit mover of wave of a humanity , impersonal , raw and sprawling.
The Tokyo Subway analogy of where internet traffic and trends converge is wonderful metaphor upon which to begin to put order to the sheer number of cyber commuters , the convergence points of traffic and communications , the conjecture , the posturing , the speculative and the inherent generational morphing that occurs in pockets on the net and then spreads. Information Architects Japan produced a 3rd version of the the map in 2008 ( see above ) presented as an isometric landscape with two layers: one showing the brand evaluation of the main sites, and other layer their interface or usability. The map has changed from the original two maps that looked graphically like the current Tokyo subway map.
What is interesting to note is that map evolves each year and and sites can move from station to station based upon a subjective or even and analytical prediction of their importance, business play, style , audience and get placed on the map relative to the actual physical station it surrounding real estate and it core commuter.
The telling things in 2008 map as noted by IA Japan were :
Google - The Center of the Center:
“In terms of traffic, Tokyo station is the center of Tokyo. That’s why Google (which is slowly becoming a metaphor of the Internet itself) has moved from Shinjuku to Tokyo Station. Google continues to push new modules into the main lines in an attempt to occupy the center circle.”
Dataportability : Unknown, But… : Dataportability.org in Uguisudani
” If things turn out as they seem like they’re going to, the newcomer of the year is Dataportability.org. It has become the center of online identity practically overnight. OpenID, Google, Facebook, Flickr, and Plaxo all opened-up and joined this incredible project. Microsoft probably won’t be happy as Passport (or is it “Passport Live?”) now has no significance.”
Facebook : Just a Hub: Facebook in Nippori
” Facebook has moved to Nippori because, from a broader perspective, Nippori is boring. But it’s still an important station (Nippori is a hub for Narita, Tokyo’s international airport).” Just as Youtube is an important hub.
Yahoo : Ya… who? Yahoo in Tabata
” Along with our speculation that the Yahoo brand will move increasingly into the background as an umbrella for more exciting products and brands like Flickr, we gave Yahoo an insignificant station. Flickr, in Nishi-Nippori, is closer to Facebook (also a strong picture-sharing portal) than Yahoo (Yahoo-owned Flickr is a part of Dataportability.org).”
MSN : Moving Towards a Central Node: MSN in Shinjuku
I wonder where the map will shift for this coming year ? For more information on IA Japan’s forth coming trend map for 2009 .Tags: convergence, media, usability, user experience, user interface