Project

Locative Media: Inclusion and Exclusion in Urban Spaces (LoMUS)

Goal: The central focus of this project lies on cyber-physical interconnections of material and virtual spaces enabled by specific apps (such as "Pokémon Go" or "Tinder"), referred to as locative media. Locative media is an umbrella term for apps that feature location awareness, which is an apps's property to calculate its location in physical space and to provide users with information about their environment. These apps change the ways city dwellers sense their socio-material environments. Some apps extend the perception of physical 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. Through ethnographic observations and in interviews we investigate new relational arrangements of spaces created by the use of locative media in Berlin, New York and Tokyo, and ask whether using these apps opens up spaces of inclusion to create places of encounters, or rather establishes spaces of exclusion and retreat. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation DFG as part of the Collaborative Research Centre "Re‐Figuration of Spaces" (SFB 1265).

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Project log

Eric Lettkemann
added a research item
This paper is about the possible social consequences attributable to a new form of media-facilitated space constitution, arising out of an increasing fusion of physical with virtual spaces. This transformation is caused by a new generation of smartphone apps, which foster the cyber-physical merging of the perception and appropriation of public space in day-to-day life. These apps are termed locative media. Locative media are characterized in particular by the fact that they combine location-based information from the Internet with the physical places of face-to-face communication. A much-debated implication of using locative media is that places in the public space no longer appear the same to all people present, because users’ perceptions and appropriations of these places are now based on additional information, which is represented only digitally. Depending on which apps are used and which personalized settings are selected, users may receive quite different information on the same physical location. The paper discusses whether the increasing use of locative media leads to the creation of new inclusive meeting places or – on the contrary – increases the tendency towards urban segregation by creating exclusive places of retreat. The discussion is based on the empirical results of a pilot study on locative media users in Berlin. The pilot study’s focus was on apps that are used to annotate public places with digital information such as texts, photos, or ratings. We compared the effects of two apps that emphasize different aspects of the appropriation of public places: the location-based recommendation service Foursquare City Guide and the location-based social network Foursquare Swarm. Both apps can be used either independently or in combination. Thus, these apps offer its users very different options for the appropriation of public places.
Eric Lettkemann
added a research item
Bei diesem Paper handelt es sich um eine gekürzte und leicht überarbeitete Fassung des 2017 von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft bewilligten Finanzierungsantrags des Teilprojekts B04 "Lokative Medien" innerhalb des Sonderforschungsbereichs 1265 "Re-Figuration von Räumen". Ziel des Teilprojekts "Lokative Medien" ist es, neue Formen alltäglicher Raumkonstitution unter den Bedingungen der gegenwärtig erfolgenden cyber-physischen Verschmelzung von topografischen Orten und virtuellen Räumen zu untersuchen. Diese Verschmelzung ist das Resultat einer neuen Softwaregeneration von Smartphone-Apps, die als lokative Medien bezeichnet werden und standortbezogene Informationen aus virtuellen Räumen mit materiellen Räumen der Face-to-Face-Kommunikation verbinden. Auf diese Weise kommt es zur Komplexitätssteigerung und Heterogenisierung räumlicher Handlungsbezüge. So erweitern etwa Spiele-Apps den materiellen Raum um virtuelle Geschöpfe und Gegenstände, oder ein mobiler Empfehlungsdienst zeigt in seiner App ein in der Nähe liegendes Restaurant mitsamt Speisekarte an. Der Einsatz lokativer Medien hat zur Folge, dass sich öffentliche Räume nicht mehr für alle Anwesenden gleich darstellen, weil sich die Raumkonstitution nun auf zusätzliche digital repräsentierte Elemente stützt, die nur für die Nutzer/-innen spezifischer Apps erfahrbar sind. In der Literatur werden zwei Effekte kontrovers diskutiert, die mit der zunehmenden Verbreitung und Nutzung lokativer Medien im öffentlichen Raum ein-hergehen können: auf der einen Seite die Entstehung inkludierender Begegnungsorte, auf der anderen Seite die Entstehung exkludierender Rückzugsorte. Noch fehlt empirisch fundiertes Wissen über soziale Nutzungspraktiken und technische Bedingungen, die die eine oder andere Entwicklung begünstigen. Das vorliegende Forschungsvorhaben knüpft an dieses Forschungsdesiderat an und fragt, unter welchen sozio-technischen Bedingungen mit der Entstehung neuer Inklusionschancen oder mit verstärkter sozialer Exklusion zu rechnen ist und welche neuen relationalen Anordnungen zu Räumen sich physisch-materiell und sozial bei der Nutzung lokativer Medien beobachten lassen.
Eric Lettkemann
added a project goal
The central focus of this project lies on cyber-physical interconnections of material and virtual spaces enabled by specific apps (such as "Pokémon Go" or "Tinder"), referred to as locative media. Locative media is an umbrella term for apps that feature location awareness, which is an apps's property to calculate its location in physical space and to provide users with information about their environment. These apps change the ways city dwellers sense their socio-material environments. Some apps extend the perception of physical 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. Through ethnographic observations and in interviews we investigate new relational arrangements of spaces created by the use of locative media in Berlin, New York and Tokyo, and ask whether using these apps opens up spaces of inclusion to create places of encounters, or rather establishes spaces of exclusion and retreat. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation DFG as part of the Collaborative Research Centre "Re‐Figuration of Spaces" (SFB 1265).