SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNICATION
Assessment 3 – Online Article
Zixiao Liu (SID: 450287495)
Instructor: Kai Soh, Tuesday 5-8 PM
With the representation of Facebook, social media has become an essential part of everyday life. As smart phones are increasingly, though unevenly adopted around the globe, mobile media has become an important portal for both social and locative media (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Smart phones provide not only easy access to the social media sites, but also functions including global positioning system (GPS), geo-tagging and Google Maps which have become an indispensable part nowadays.
Locative mobile media therefore gains popularity by using the technology. It not only provides the convenience for social media users a chance to get acquainted with people nearby, creates new kind of intimacy, redefines the meaning of place and space, but also boosts the emergence of locative and augmented mobile gaming industry.
The emergence of location service
Since 21st century, mobile phones are becoming increasingly location-aware, technological development such as GPS and tapping has empowered the device to use and share positioning data through a faster 3G/4G network, across space and between friends. Location service has become an indispensable part of social media, embedded by most Social networking sites and instant messaging applications, it casts considerable influence on the traditional definition of location and space.
Locative media applications start to emerge around 2002, as games and assistance to artist’s project (Tuters&Varnelis, 2006). In 2003, a Japanese game Mogi gained popularity when location-based services had been integrated into cell phones in 2001 (Grajski& Kirk, cited in Southern, 2003). It was a game where players collected geographically located tokens in popular locations and also allowing them to chat with users nearby.
Except the wide application to games and art projects, location-based service is gradually embedded on most social networking sites. Facebook cautious but deliberately launched their nearby service in December, 2012, an ambitious move that enables it to serve both as a local recommendation platform but also a mobile centred advertising portal (Wilken, 2014).
Whereas, in China, WeChat was designed and launched in 2011 and gradually set the location services by promoting People Nearby and Real-time location features. These features not only encourages people to share their location within a post or share, but also providing the convenience and potential to reach out to other users within a specific distance nearby.
Humphreys (2007, 2010) argued that mobile social network ultimately change the way participants engaged with and experienced the environment, adding a sense of familiarity to the original meaning of space and place. Applications and games in recent years take advantage of the surge of location service on smartphones, and attracts users to engage in an intriguing way.
Foursquare, which is designed by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai in the late 2008, is a successful location-based social network that attracts 55 million people worldwide (About Foursquare, 2015). It combines the traditional gaming elements with the location service and coordinates various social interactions. Lefebvre (1991) demonstrated that space is understood as being socially constructed through use), by encouraging people to engage with public space to create new meanings. Therefore, foursquare has the potential to produce new understanding of place (Evens, 2014). However, there is still limitations to Foursquare, as Southern (2012) argued, it focuses majorly on the “check-in” function but neglect the journey to certain places. Locative Mobile Social Networks (LMSN), however, focus more on and in between, rather than the nodes. It is the journey, as also defined by Southern as “comobility”, that is where “both communications and sociology may benefit from artistic appropriations, interventions and experiments. (Southern, 2012)”
Proximity, Intimacy and People Nearby
LMSN has added new meanings to the notion of proximity. While nearness is related to the sense of closeness, familiarity and intimacy, distance is associated with strange and remoteness. However, the social media has changed this situation by breaking the actual geographic distance. Online social media exemplifies that social connections across vast geographical distances can be intimate. People nowadays, no matter young and old, create new forms of intimacy and different context of expressing intimacy through various technical platforms (Hinton &Hjorth, 2014).
Surprisingly though, study () shows that social interactions online often privilege relationships of lower social distance. Specifically, people would choose socially closer partners to work with even though they might not be the best choice for a partnership. When the social closeness intertwine with the geographic closeness, an application called Loopt created an alarming system which inform users when someone in their network is close to them, by notifying the distance between users and their friends online.
Online location-based applications certainly changed the traditional notion of closeness. Rather than “physical closeness which could fosters psychological closeness and mutuality” (Burgoon et al, 2002), location service creates cyber closeness through various LMSN platforms. Facebook and WeChat enables users to search and add new friends to their networks through distance-searching, while Tinder uses location service to search for friends and potential relationships nearby. Though the purposes of each platforms vary and unintentional they might be, they undoubtedly help users to build intimacy more easily.
Ingress and Pokémon Go- Locative Games
In recent years, as media follows the trends of mobilization and has become more playful by using geographic data, users increasingly interweave their everyday experience with virtual environment (Hjorth & Richardson, 2017).
Developed by Niantic, Ingress is a location-based, augmented-reality mobile game. In the game, players compete to capture and occupied the virtual portal situated in the real world locations in order to “control the world’. This game not only highlights the cultural significance of spaces but also add new meanings to it. For gamers who play Ingress, a church nearby means not simply a place where he prays, but also a valuable portal in the game.
Following the successful launch of Ingress, Niantic went on and created another location- based hybrid game by using the valuable Ingress location database. The popular game Pokémon Go has gained much attention over the first weeks of July, 2016. People from many countries downloaded the Pokémon Go application and entered an augmented reality. Users wonder around the neighborhood in search for rare Pokémon and compete with other players at the virtual gym.
Pokémon Go represents the playful turn in contemporary media culture, the omnipresence of location-based mobile media nowadays and the ongoing development of augmented media. The notion of ambient play is elaborated by Hjorth & Richardson (2014), which “mobile media create new modes of engagement that entangle attention and distraction.” Pokémon Go are undoubtedly ambient as they become a part of our daily routines, pedestrian movement and interaction with people around the neighborhood (Hjorth & Richardson, 2017).
While the game is recognized as a good experience, by connecting the virtual game with real life, encouraging users to do physical exercises and facilitating human to human interactions (Wawro, 2016). However, it is also vital to be aware of the downsides of these sorts of location-based games. It also generates debates from scholars concerning the risk, surveillance and privacy (Hjorth & Richardson, 2017). Pokémon gamers sometimes intrude into dangerous areas or private territories without permissions in order to catch rare Pokémon. Except for the risk, surveillance and privacy, locative mobile games may also cause people to generate the feelings of loneliness and inaccessibility (Bliss, 2016).
Application to our Campaign
Locative mobile media is to a certain extent helpful to our #bethefilter campaign. We ask our initial participants to take and post a photo with a banner of #bethefilter with their current locations tagged on the post. In this way, not only social media users nearby are more likely to see the post and the hash tag, but also enables us to create a map showing other potential participants that there are already many people who are from other parts of the world are into this and supports our campaign.
Locative mobile social networking has been changing our perception of space and place by creating new orders of networks. While it create a new sense of network and intimacy, the location technologies enables the emergence of locative games which add playful elements to the notion of space and creates new interpretation of space.
It is hard to foresee what type of application and social implication which locative mobile media will creates, but critical analysis is always crucial in understanding the new technologies and its implications.
Word Count: 1423
Link to the Comment:
- About Foursquare (2015) Available at: https://foursquare.com/about.
- Bliss, L. (2016, July 12). Pokémon GO has created a new kind of flâneur. The Atlantic City Lab. Retrieved from http://www.citylab.com/navigator/2016/07/pokemon-go-flaneur- baudelaire/490796/
- Burgoon, J. K., Bonito, J. A., Ramirez, A. J., Dunbar, N. E., Kam, K., & Fischer, J. (2002). Testing the interactivity principle: Effects of mediation, propinquity, and verbal and nonverbal modalities in interpersonal interaction. Journal of Communication, 52(3), 657- 677.
- Hinton, S. &Hjorth, L. (2013). Social, locative and mobile media. In Understanding social media (pp. 120-135). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
- Hjorth, L., & Richardson, I. (2014). Gaming in social, locative and mobile media. Basingstoke, U.K: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Hjorth, L., & Richardson, I. (2017). Pokémon GO: Mobile media play, place-making, and the digital wayfarer. Mobile Media & Communication, 5(1), 3-14.
- Humphreys, L. (2010). Mobile social networks and urban public space. New Media & Society, 12(5), 763-778.