Built on the idea that every past is a place, HyperCities is a digital research and educational platform for exploring, learning about, and interacting with the layered histories of city and global spaces. Developed though collaboration between UCLA and USC, the fundamental idea behind HyperCities is that all stories take place somewhere and sometime; they become meaningful when they interact and intersect with other stories. Using Google Maps and Google Earth, HyperCities essentially allows users to go back in time to create and explore the historical layers of city spaces in an interactive, hypermedia environment.
A HyperCity is a real city overlaid with a rich array of geo-temporal information, ranging from urban cartographies and media representations to family genealogies and the stories of the people and diverse communities who live and lived there. We are currently developing content for: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Rome, Lima, Ollantaytambo, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Tehran, Saigon, Toyko, Shanghai, Seoul, with many more (big and small) to come.
The project asks a seemingly simple—but deeply fraught and often contested—question that is fundamental to identity: Where are you from? The answers, of course, are far from simple or straightforward.
As a globally-oriented platform that reaches deeply into archival collections and aggregates a wide range of media content (including broadcast news, photograph archives, 3D reconstructions, user-created maps, oral histories, GIS data, and community stories), HyperCities not only transforms how digital information is produced, stored, retrieved, and shared but also transforms how human beings interact with media and how we experience places. Born out of Web 2.0 social technologies, HyperCities represents a new digital media environment that links together cultures, languages, generations, and knowledge communities, mobilizing an array of technologies (from GPS-enabled cell phones to GIS mapping tools and geo-temporal databases) to pioneer a truly participatory, open-ended learning ecology grounded in real places and real times.
By connecting digital archives, maps, and stories with the physical world, HyperCities aims to become the first media platform for supporting the revolution of Web 3.0, the birth of the geo-temporal human web.