Locative Media: Adoption and Use of Mobile Apps in Public Spaces

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Eric LETTKEMANN, TU Berlin, Germany
Ingo SCHULZ-SCHAEFFER, Technical University of Berlin, Germany
The focus of our presentation lies on implications of locative media for urban social life. Locative media is an umbrella term for a new form of mobile apps, providing users with digital information about their social and material surroundings. Commonly known examples are Foursquare, Pokémon Go, or Tinder. These apps change the ways that actors sense and interact in public spaces. For instance, the diffusion of locative media strongly affected navigation practices of travellers, moving through unknown or unfamiliar areas. Some apps extend the perception of material spaces by including virtual creatures and objects; others serve as a social radar in everyday life to locate nearby friends or to look for potential flirt partners. We investigate new practices arising from the adoption of locative media, asking whether using these apps opens up opportunities for social inclusion by creating new spaces of encounters, or rather establishes spaces of retreat leading to social exclusion. This broader question has to be examined differently for specific apps. Whether new opportunities for inclusion or exclusion are emerging depends on the functionalities enrolled in the apps as well as on the cultural frames of usage practices. Although locative media is a recent phenomenon, the number of corresponding apps is already too large to examine the field as a whole. We will present first results of exemplary case studies, designed to investigate typical forms and consequences of the use of locative media. The case studies examine adolescents and young adults in three cities, which are known as cultural breeding grounds for locative media practices: Berlin, New York, and Tokyo.