Mapping Jokes and Humour


Doing a PhD apparently means doing many things, reading, writing and serious procrastination, however it gets weird when they overlap. Nottingham University seems to have this weirdness within its blood, from the S&M chair to Roogle  – a cynical search engine followed up by a Motorcycle Simulator, to be fair I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a fully immersive virtual grand theft auto.

Today’s exercise was to collect data. The DTC cohort assembled in a room, were given video cameras and two written navigational instructions and sent out on the campus. Our group came up with two questions; How easy is it to navigate just through asking people making their own way, and what areas are the funniest on campus.

Surprisingly the first was simple, we got to the DH Laurence café quite easily and had a lemon tart. The methodology for the second experiment was to record a route to another café, along which we were to ask people that we met to tell a joke to the camera. With which we could probably do some clustering analysis and tell which parts of the university were the funniest and which parts needed a lift.

The responses once leaving a willing cohort were strange, it seems that if you stick a camera in someones face and ask them to tell a joke, the reactions is at first bemusement, swiftly followed by fudging at which point they carried on their way.

This has got me thinking more seriously about the nature of the mapping humour;  do ways exist in which to get people to be more confident to speak up in front of a camera, people seemed put out with being recorded, having microphone could do this but when telling jokes, the facial and body language is important, using a hidden camera would apparent contravene a vast majority of ethics codes, but is mapping humour unethical?

In the UK we are led to believe that the further North you go the friendlier it gets, until you reach Scotland where it just gets progressively inebriated. Is there a way of working out where the funniest people live and would this have any relation to what we believe already?

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Author: Mark Iliffe

Traveller, Programmer, Geospatialist and Motorcyclist

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