Allan Jacobs, an Urban Planner and a Professor in California, talks about his one of the article Looking at the cities. In which he describes a randomly picked street of San Francisco in a way as if he passes that street every day. He describes each and every detail of houses, stores and the streets he passes by. And to remember things, he even goes philosophical relating it to advertisement and making fun of it.
In a way I think this is a good learning. I mean we usually don’t remember or simply ignore the details of surroundings , which we see every day but actually this small things going around us tells a lot about the place. Instead just moving around and talking with people only, can lead us to lot of information about the lifestyle, thinking, culture and history of the place. This can be a good way to map area just by looking at things. Sometimes we become so monotonous that we forget to relate our own personal experience and thoughts to our design and just use the predefined information. But as a designer we need to start observing the surrounding and use our first hand information without being afraid of it.