Categorizing and Contextualizing Locative Media

    by Leslie Rule
    December 19, 2007

    It’s holiday time, no projects to speak of, so we’ll talk a bit about the theory. No doubt we’ll leave a lot out, but I’m considering this a first discussion and will return to talk more about where and wither locative media.

    Recent discussions in locative media at the Center for Locative Media around the next-step need for categorizing and contextualizing locative media. As I mentioned before, locative media got its start in the art world. Avant-garde and conceptual artists, grasping early the potential that new and emerging technologies enabled, wanted to use the landscape as a material and to embed content in place. With art leading the way through brilliantly conceived projects, it wasn’t long before the less artistic but equally community-minded jumped into the frey. Well, yes, here I am believing that locative media can engender civic-engagement, can reconnect people to their community, and, ultimately, and most importantly, revolutionize the way we educate and inform through mlearning.

    In practice and in theory, categories blend and we get a hybrid version that might eventually be woven into some sort of ecology of locative media theory and practice.


    Geo-annotation refers to marking physical spaces via embedded messages, usually short and information based. When contextualizing locative media within a civic engagement framework, this is often the default lens. We ask: Does information embedded in place substantially effect individual behavior toward that place?

    Spatial or place-based narratives are longer, more nuanced, often more personal. These narratives have their beginnings in the theory and the practice of the flâneurs and the situationists, are semiotic in nature, often take information and add a reflective component, adding meaning to information.

    Augmented reality, (we’re using piece of a larger definition for our context), focuses its eye on the technology, giving a decided nod to the devices that we use, especially the melding of gps units and PDAs/smartphones. We hear phrases like “the place is the interface.” (I guess I get it.) The process follows this syllogistic path: if we can overlay information on place, then we can overlay vast amounts of information on palce, then we can network these vast amounts of information, then we’ll really have something. Although what that something is, I’m not yet sure.


    Not yet knowing, and moving ahead anyway, well, that’s the idea.

    Tagged: community-engagment education locative media mobile new media

    Comments are closed.

  • Who We Are

    MediaShift is the premier destination for insight and analysis at the intersection of media and technology. The MediaShift network includes MediaShift, EducationShift, MetricShift and Idea Lab, as well as workshops and weekend hackathons, email newsletters, a weekly podcast and a series of DigitalEd online trainings.

    About MediaShift »
    Contact us »
    Sponsor MediaShift »
    MediaShift Newsletters »

    Follow us on Social Media