Localizing the media, locating ourselves: a critical comparative analysis of socio-spatial sorting in locative media platforms (Google AND Flickr 2009-2011)

Barreneche, C. 2012. Localizing the media, locating ourselves: a critical comparative analysis of socio-spatial sorting in locative media platforms (Google AND Flickr 2009-2011). PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design https://doi.org/10.34737/8z624

TitleLocalizing the media, locating ourselves: a critical comparative analysis of socio-spatial sorting in locative media platforms (Google AND Flickr 2009-2011)
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsBarreneche, C.
Abstract

In this thesis I explore media geocoding (i.e., geotagging or georeferencing), the process of inscribing the media with geographic information. A process that enables distinct forms of producing, storing, and distributing information based on location. Historically, geographic information technologies have served a biopolitical function producing knowledge of populations. In their current guise as locative media platforms, these systems build rich databases of places facilitated by user-generated geocoded media. These geoindexes render places, and users of these services, this thesis argues, subject to novel forms of computational modelling and economic capture. Thus, the possibility of tying information, people and objects to location sets the conditions to the emergence of new communicative practices as well as new forms of governmentality (management of populations). This project is an attempt to develop an understanding of the socio-economic forces and media regimes structuring contemporary forms of location-aware communication, by carrying out a comparative analysis of two of the main current location-enabled platforms: Google and Flickr. Drawing from the medium-specific approach to media analysis characteristic of the subfield of Software Studies, together with the methodological apparatus of Cultural Analytics (data mining and visualization methods), the thesis focuses on examining how social space is coded and computed in these systems. In particular, it looks at the databases’ underlying ontologies supporting the platforms' geocoding capabilities and their respective algorithmic logics. In the final analysis the thesis argues that the way social space is translated in the form of POIs (Points of Interest) and business-biased categorizations, as well as the geodemographical ordering underpinning the way it is computed, are pivotal if we were to understand what kind of socio-spatial relations are actualized in these systems, and what modalities of governing urban mobility are enabled.

Year2012
File
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
Published2012
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/8z624

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