Name: Ashna Mehta
Student I.D.: 430242940
Class: Thursday 9:00am-12:00pm
The impact of location based services (LBSs) on social, locative and mobile media is one of the key concepts explored in Chapter Seven of Hinton and Hjorth’s ‘Understanding Social Media’. The chapter delves into the effects of location based services on a cultural, social and individual level, drawing upon examples of locative services on mobile social media such as FourSquare and Facebook. The chapter addresses the myriad of ways in which mobile social media is employed on a global scale, drawing upon the increasing popularity of smartphones as the primary cause for what Hinton and Hjorth have coined the “media evolution” (2013, p.121). Over the course of the chapter, Hinton and Hjorth acknowledge the shift in public perception of the smart phone from a tool for communication to a networked media tool, fostering the development of social media and games. The core concept of the chapter is the shift in the macro and micro understanding of space and place following the amalgamation of mobile media and social and locative technologies.
The core concept of the chapter is approached in concise, coherent manner, with real world examples of the varying applications of social and locative media. It is established that over time, social, locative and mobile media has transcended barriers of age, gender and location, leading to the creation of “new forms of intimacy and different contexts for the expression of intimacy,” (Hinton, S. Hjorth, L. 2013). The ubiquity and functionality of mobile phones has contributed to the increasing prevalence of cross-generational social media usage, particularly following the inclusion of location based services and applications in smart phones, thereby rendering smart phones an invaluable aspect of daily life. The shift in the relationship between place, time and presence is evidenced through the remediation of older applications of maps to location based services such as Google Maps and Geotagging. Hinton and Hjorth cite Bolter and Grusin’s (1999) definition of remediation as, “the dynamic and interdependent relationship between new and old technologies,” (2013, p.123). This is evidenced through the development of location based services such as Google Maps to the functionality of Facebook locations, which consequently alters how the relationship between mobile media users and place, time and social media presence.
The integration of LBSs with social media in smart phones, and its subsequent effect on the mobility of social media, is also scrutinised in Hinton and Hjorth’s chapter. It is stated that the increased media mobility has resulted in, “the expansion of cartographies enabled by LBS devices and mobile apps, and the development of location-based social apps that blend social relationships with geography,” (Ibid). Here, Hinton and Hjorth established the framework through which they examine the relationship between location based services, their functions and their place in mobile media. The expansion of cartographies by the advent of LBSs can be illustrated through the rising popularity of smart phone app Pokémon Go, which alters the user’s relationship with place and space through immersive experiences with nearby locations, mapped via new cartographical technologies. The inclusion of LBSs in smart phones has served to improve their functionality and prevalence amongst a wider demographic, as consumers would be unwilling to purchase a separate location based device, such as GPS. From this, it can be deduced that this led to the development of locative-based mobile games such as Pokémon Go and FourSquare, which contributed to the shift in macro and micro perceptions of place and space. This in turn can be attributed to the immersive nature of new locative based services and their innumerable applications for smart phones.
Following the advent of smart phones, the public’s perception of mobile technology experienced a shift from being ‘online’ or ‘offline’, leading to the merging of the physical and virtual world. The practice of cartography, Hinton and Hjorth posit, “links space with place, where place is the concept of a space that has meaning ascribed to it,” (2013, p.126). This relationship between space and place is underscored through locative media, and its varying applications available to consumers via smart phones. In order to better conceptualise the relationship between space and place through locative technologies, Hinton and Hjorth draw parallels between perceptions of place and space, and how they have changed due to the increasing popularity and quality of camera phones and photo editing applications such as Hipstamatic. The notion of place, as put forward by Hinton and Hjorth, is explored as being, “not only a space with geographic contours, [but] a space that operates across many levels: imagined and lived, social and physical,” (Ibid). Through this, it can be deduced that through the amalgamation of Location Based Services and smart phone cameras, there is greater emotional value attributed to place than space, as it determines consumers’ relationship with the physical and virtual world.
The prevalence of smart phone applications such as Hipstamatic and Instagram, particularly their accessibility and functionality, has merged the social with the personal through social media. It is argued in Farman that consumers’ notions of virtual space are, “dissolving”, with the history of the term ‘virtuality’ revealing, “that the intimate relationship between the virtual and the ‘actual’ has always been historically assumed,” (Farman, J. 2012). This blurring of the distinction between the virtual and actual can be attributed, in part, to the overlaying of the electronic on the geographic through locative based services and smart phone applications such as Instagram and Jiepang. Moreover, the popularity of applications such as Hipstamatic and Instagram can be linked to their functionality, as it renders the application easy to navigate, with buttons integrated within the applications to encourage immediate online posting. This is further compounded by social media companies that “provide their own image-hosting servers that operate almost invisibly to the user,” (Hinton, S. Hjorth, L. 2013). This can be illustrated through the integration of Imgur, an image-hosting application available online and through mobile, with social media platform Reddit. Through the prevision of easily accessible image hosting services, applications such as Instagram, Imgur and Hipstamatic impact how place and space are recorded and stored.
The theory of social, locative and mobile media being discussed in Chapter Seven is addressed by Wilken through an analysis of Facebook’s inclusion of location based services. Facebook’s gradual implementation of location based services such as Places, Tagging and Nearby provides a multisensorial view of the social media platform, as it, “establishes Facebook as a location-based services company; [refocuses] the company as a local recommendation service and establishes Facebook as a key local and mobile advertising portal,” (Wilken, R. 2014). This effect is multisensorial for users, as it allows them to decide the particular way through which “text, image and GPS are overlaid to create a multisensorial depiction of a locality,” (Hinton, S. Hjorth, L. 2013). The inclusion of location based services in social media demonstrates the gradual breakdown of social, cultural and geographical barriers, particularly through prevalent social media platforms such as Facebook. The ubiquity of location based services due to its functionality and accessibility can also be attributed to its advancing technologies, as evidenced through Facebook’s implementation of functions such as Places and Nearby. Through this, it can be deduced that the development of LBSs from a First Generation cartographical device to the multisensorial experience it is now, contributes to the development of notions of place and space.
The advancements in cartographical technology, in particular LBSs, can be attributed to the prevalence of mobile media, such as smart phones through the media evolution. As stated in Hinton and Hjorth, mobile devices “provide us with new ways of mapping meaning to space and creating new places,” (2013, p.134). The advancements in technology regarding locative media impacted the way individuals as consumers create meaning, and expanded the social, cultural and geographical contexts of place and space. This is underscored by the increasing popularity of mobile media and the smart phone, as the implementation of LBSs in smart phones is, “changing how we visualise intimate cartographies through shifting camera-phone practices,” (Hinton, S. Hjorth, L. 2013). Through this, it is evident that the advent of LBSs represents the increasing diversity of relationships between consumers of mobile and social media.
- Farman, J. 2012, ‘Locative Interfaces and Social Media’, Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media, Routledge, New York, pp.35-49
- Hinton, S. Hjorth, L. 2013, ‘Social, Locative and Mobile Media’, Understanding Social Media, SAGE Publications, London, pp.120-136.
- Wilken, R. 2014, ‘Places Nearby: Facebook as a location-based social media platform’, New Media & Society, Vol.16, No.7, pp.1087-1103.