If you walk through the streets or shop around in the mall or sit in auditorium listen to a lecture, have you ever counted how many of those people who pay attention to the mobile devices rather than other things? According to Pew Research Center (2015), up to March 2015, there are 92 percent adults use cellphone, 68 percent owns smartphone. Nowadays, mobile media occupying a significant status in the digital age and has increasingly becomes the key portal for social and locative media, particularly smartphones, are adopted all around the world. Undoubtedly, mobile media do bring us a lot convenience and benefits, such as shorten the distance and strengthen the intimacy between our friends and family, facilitate communication, and create many new function like location-based services. However, many challenges have existed under the situation that surrounded by mobile media.
(Pew Research Center, 2015)
Currently, compared with other media, one of the absolute advantages of mobile media is mobility. For example, the most popular consumer device – smartphone explains people can now learn and engage with information anywhere, anytime (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013, p.125). Speaking of mobility, Frith & Kalin (2015, p.45) emphasized the relationship between mobility and place; they established the importance of mobility in the conceptualization of place. Early in 1977, Tuan (p.6) brought up the definition of place was: Place is pause, each pause in movement makes it possible for location to be transformed into place. Tuan (1977, p.6) referred that place is where people pause the movement and construct meaning rather than just a specific geography location. According to Hinton & Hjorth (2013, p.128), what mobile media brings us not only mediates intimate relations but also mediate how people rethink about places. Place is a location that includes meaningful behaviors and intentional interactions, and reflects cultural, social and emotional dimensions. And between the link of mobility and place, mobility plays an important role in constructing the meaning of place, practiced as an ongoing embodied experience with place (Frith & Kalin, 2015, p.45). As mobility practice change, the meaning within the place change as well. In the social media campaign I designed this semester – LETS CONSTELLATION, I put mobility as one of my consideration of promote this campaign. Since I need to upload lots of information of 12 constellations in social media (Instagram, Facebook, Weibo, Wechat), the easiest and fastest way to let audiences know the information is through social media and the technology that mobile media build – mobility allows the process achieved. Once I posted the information or the analysis of 12 constellations in Instagram or Weibo, there is no delay for audiences to get that information, no matter you are in the bus or sit in the Starbucks or even in the washroom, as long as you bring the mobile devices (smartphones, ipad, laptop etc) with you. Moreover, every location has different reactions and meanings of those audiences when they get the information. They probably will comment or like the information, probably discuss with their friends or just look through the information and do nothing.
As the increasingly use of mobile technologies all around the world, it can also be seen as the growing of using mobile Internet. As Hjorth (2012, p.237) stated, with the transformation of mobile media that from a mobile communication technology into a mobile multimodal technology, the global positioning systems (GPS) and the location-based services (LBS) has taken a significant status. Location-based service had been used in mobile devices in the early 1990s but used for military at the first. And then global positioning systems quickly adapted for commercial and social use nowadays (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013, p.127). We are now shifting from the first generation of location-based services, which was available through custom devices by providing single use device to the second generation that appeared global positioning systems and embedded in consumer devices (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013, p.127). Presently, electronic map (Google maps), social media (Facebook, Instagram), mobile games (Ingress), and other applications (Airbnb, Yelp) with location-based services have becoming more and more popular by users. Here, I want to use two examples to analyze the convenience that location-cased services bring us, which are Wechat and DianPing (Chinese Yelp).
When you want to post information like pictures or videos in moments (blog in Wechat), there is an option below the pictures – location (see figure 1). If you want to show others where you are just choose this option it will locate your place and other options location that near you automatically (see figure 2). Also, you can search the name of the place if there are no appropriate options (see figure 3). Based on the location-based service, there even a joke about Wechat that we don’t actually need to go outside but can see everywhere in the Wechat moments because people travel around the world in their holiday and locate their places. Moreover, in the chatting box with my boyfriend, there is a location icon, which means I can send him my real-time location let him to find me according to the map (see figure 4). This function helps people a lot when they are trying to meet someone or cannot find the way.
DianPing is the Chinese version of Yelp, which is a comprehensive application of providing information about restaurants, accommodations, and scenic spots etc. DianPing can automatically locate your place and provide recommending information based on the location (see figure 5). If you want to find food, just click the food icon and select nearest restaurant and DianPing will show you the information (see figure 6). And if you already had the choice of the restaurant, you can type the name and the map will lead you to that restaurant (see figure 7).
Although the location-based service has a lot of convenience, I barely use this function in my social media campaign. Or I will try to use this function when I organize some social activities about 12 constellations. For instance, if the social activity of this week is about Virgo, users can post the information and locate their place to find other user, who is Virgo as well, probably he/she just sitting next to you.
As discussed the positive aspect of locative mobile media above, however, no matter we agree the importance and convenience location-based service has brought us, it is clear that there are still many challenges of this function. First, when people use the location-based service through social media, users can create the information of location. In other words, I can pretend I am in New York now by finding some pictures in Google and type ‘New York’ in the location option. This may cause false information through the social media and lose authentic of information. Second, one of the social influences of location-based services is that people can use this as an approach to make friends. For example, there are many dating applications based on this locative function, let users to find nearest strangers and have conversation with them. It seems like that location-based services has expanded our circle of making new friends, but besides making friends, many people use this function to spread advertisements, erotic information, or even steal your personal information. This is a very serious issue we have to consider about that how can we protect our privacy when we open the location-based services.
To be concluded, the article began with analyze the technologies that mobile media brought us – mobility and location-based services. An important point that mobility not only builds the new relationship between people but also lets us to rethink the meaning of place. Moreover, the location-based services within social media provide users a more convenient and faster way to find the information. Nevertheless, with the growth of using location-based services, there are both positive and negative aspects. Many challenges showed up like privacy and fake information based on the location-based services.
Frith, J & Kalin, J. (2015). Here, I Used to Be: Mobile Media and Practices of Place-Based Digital Memory. Space and Culture.
Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Social, Locative and Mobile Media Understanding Social Media. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Hjorth, L. (2012). Relocating the mobile: A case study of locative media in Seoul, South Korea. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.
Pew Research Center (2015). [online]
[Access 21 April 2016]
Tuan, Y. (1977). Space and place: The perspective of experience. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.