Locating Ourselves in the New Media Landscape

    by Leslie Rule
    October 19, 2007

    I’m not at the conference. I’m at home. I live a half a mile from where I went to high school, a mile from where I went to junior high school, and within 5 miles of every where I’ve every lived…except a brief exile to Berkeley for college. I lasted one semester, returned to the City, and spent the next 4 years commuting across the Bay. I missed the cool, moist air of home.

    What is it about place that runs so deep and holds so tight? Take a minute to think about one of your treasured places. And yes, you should probably close your eyes.

    Jeremy Hight, one the first locative media theorists, coined the term, “Narrative Archeology,” a concept which became a corner stone of locative media. It refers to the process of peeling back layers of a place, and finding the stories underneath. Sometimes, it’s all about history, sometimes it’s about culture. His recent writings have addressed the limiting notion that “locative” and location refer to definable points, usually described with co-ordinal terms longitude and latitude. Jeremy asks why not include elevation, topography, other geographical data. Indeed, why not? On the street level, we do so much more all of the time.


    A place is not just a coordinate, for how deep is that. A point on a map is a beginning to the discussion of what constitutes “place;” it’s a start into the investigation of how locative media can convey multi-dimensional expressions of place. At it’s most literal (we won’t talk about conceptual yet), locative media attempts to capture and convey “place” as a functional environment full of news, information, stories, narrative, annotations – essentially full of perspective and life. This overlay on space makes it place.

    These principles developed by foremost humanistic geographer Yi-Fu Tuan have resulted in all forms of neo-geography, interpretive cartography, placed-based narrative, and interdisciplinary geo-studies of every ilk. (Geo-apps are a blog all their own.) For those of us who wonder about our place, it changed how we understand and explore that place. All of these intertwined memes are metadata, albeit dynamic metadata, subject to change with the slightest shift, but still of intrinsic importance in representing the whole of a place, including it’s place in time. Use this metadata, make an experience, and it’s a locative media project.

    We are just starting a new locative media project. We’ll be tagging three of the markers on the Mississippi Blues Trail using gps-enabled handhelds, located mp3 files, and an online mapping app.


    Starting in Jackson, 9 amazing artists will be creating projects through the Mississippi Delta as part of National Black Programming Consortium’s New Media Institute. I’ll be blogging the project and the process, before during and after…and hoping one of you end up in the Mississippi Delta to experience the Mississippi Blues Trial locative media project.

    Tagged: locative media Mississippi Blues Trail

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