Rowan Wilken is Associate Professor in media and communication within the Swinburne Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. His authored and co-edited books include Teletechnologies, Place, and Community (Routledge, 2011), Mobile Technology and Place (Routledge, 2012), Locative Media (Routledge, 2015), and The Afterlives of Georges Perec (Edinburgh University Press, 2017). He is currently working on two new books: Cultural Economies of Locative Media (Oxford University Press) and Location Technologies in International Context (Routledge).
“Traces of Our Passage: Location Awareness in an Age of Ubiquitous Geodata Capture”
Since the advent of the smartphone, the means by which one’s physical location at particular venues is registered by end-users and by proprietors of location-enabled social media applications has shifted significantly, passing through a number of iterations, or generations. ‘First generation’ location-based smartphone services required the active registering of one’s location by end users, often in the form of ‘check-ins’. ‘Second generation’ location services involved ‘passive’ location disclosure, tracking, and compatibility pairing of end-users. While the ‘third generation’ and dominant present form of location-based services involve what I am referring to as ubiquitous geodata capture. These are services where location remains fundamental to their operation, but is integrated into that service at both the front end (the interface) and the back end (algorithmic processing, database population, monetisation efforts, and so on). This paper begins by tracing these earlier iterations, before turning to consider the importance of, and challenges we face, in trying to make critical sense of what is involved – and at stake – in the move towards ubiquitous geodata capture.