Week 11 – Space and Mobility: Locative Social Media by Yvonne, Rebecca & Katy

8 Oct

Week 11 – Space and Mobility: Locative Social Media

Over the past decade, social media has transformed dramatically due to the easy access people now have with the use of smart phones. This means that social media can be accessed by those who have a smart phone particularly in Western Cultures at any time of the day, anywhere they are.  This allows social media usage to highly increase as opposed to when people only used mobile phones for phone call purposes and could only access social media sites via a home/ work computer.

At one stage we probably thought that technology couldn’t get any better with the Nokia 3315 and how we could only kill time with ‘apps’ like Snake. Mobile phones rapidly transformed into outlets whereby people can store their entire life agendas, such as photos, contacts and calendars which at one stage were only accessed through traditional photo albums, address books and wall calendars.


As technology advances, so do the appearance, quality and computer systems in mobile phones, this timeline shows a brief view of the history of the mobile phone, and then leads to where we are today, the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy. Being the two most owned mobiles in Australia, both the iPhone and the Samsung galaxy have features that no other mobile in the past has had, they act as so much more to the owners than just a communication device in which to call, or text, like for many years they were solely for. The technology in both these phones gives people so many more options to explore not only locations services and social media, but by putting these two together, owners of these smartphones can let people all over the world know where they are and what they’re doing.

Adriana de Souza describes that “locative mobile social networking applications represent a specific type of Location Based Services (LBS), in which, in addition to providing users with location specific information, they allow users to locate each other in physical space via their representation on a map on their cell phone screens”.  This means that when an active social media user posts information such as an image, location or status on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the location of their action becomes accessible to other users on the social media outlet as a source of communication. Approximately a few decades ago, this feasibility would have been achieved via word of mouth amongst friends/acquaintances and family.


When describing space and mobility with smartphones and their users we can focus on social networking sites as they are the most prominent features regarding the subject however, technology on such devices, for instance an iPhone has transformed into a time-saving application that allows users to do things such as purchase movie tickets online, shop, read the news and read reviews on trends in real time. Other trends that a smartphone carry are the use of Face Time whereby callers can view each other whilst on a call. Although taken for granted, we see such features on popular television shows that focus on future developments of communication and now such theories are being used worldwide.


De Souza claims that “all types of networks have common characteristics” which are spatial quality and connectivity. This allows strangers to interact with other strangers and essentially “social relationships” can take action according to the week 11 readings. The only requirement in order for people to connect in an internet connection which was once costly and time consuming with the traditional dial-up system and, prior to the introduction of social networking sites including MySpace, strangers were able to interact through options such as online gaming and chat systems.  The advancement of locative social media has destroyed the perception of space according to the readings as it is now literally an application on an iPhone such as KiK and Whats App that gives power to an individual in Australia to communicate to an unknown individual in New York costing them a data network!

How many people in the room have a smartphone?

How many people no longer keep their information in hard copy such as photos and contacts?

How many people have communicated through technology differently than they would, or could have 5 years ago from now?

According to Caroline Bassett, there is a ‘new spatial economy that is the result of the dynamics between physical and virtual space, between old and new space’. In other words there has been a shift in the spatial ability to communicate not only visually but auditory, hearing one another.

Basset explores the notion that one can physically walk down a paved street and be sensing their visual atmosphere, for example acknowledging people that walk past them and knowing not to walk into them as well as their second space. The second space is the auditory space, the conversation they are having on their phone. This idea is the contemporary space, the ability to combine both levels of space, visual and auditory.


Basset notes the comparison between people walking on streets in the city, in the past it had just been a physical movement of navigating one’s way through the streets and any conversations that were made were to the person directly next to you. Compared to our modern times, where a whole network of spaces can be connected. One can walk down the same street but be emerged in a conversation with someone who is physically kilometres away, they can send just a text of conversation to someone, or can post how they are feeling online and gain responses from people that are nowhere near their spatial capacity.

The mobile phone is the reason behind this shift in spatial abilities, as it has changed the dynamics of the way people connect and communicate. Mobile phone users are no longer restricted by travel. For example if a person was to leave their house to meet a friend forty years ago, they would not be able to contact them until they met up with that person. Today if a person leaves their house they can call, text, instant message, comment, private message or email the person they are meeting in order to get in contact with that person, you can ‘take your world with you’.

Jonathan Crary argues that in ‘contemporary life individuals define and shape themselves in terms of a capacity for paying attention, that is, for disengagement with the broader field of attraction’. This idea is the individual’s capacity to focus on more than one stimulus at once, for example walking down a street, being able to write a text message and then see a person is calling you, take that call and then return to writing the text message.

Do you ever feel like it is difficult to do more than one thing when you are using your mobile phone, or do you think you have mastered the ability to multitask?

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