Monday, April 18, 2011

Types of Geotargetted Information

Last week, I was presenting on my research on geotargetted information delivered via mobile devices. I claimed that mobile applications were revolutionary in their ability to detect a user's location and then return content about that location.

Humans have a long history of delivering information pertaining to a location at the specific location. So I was careful not to claim they were the first such medium to do this. But I do think mobile devices (including GPS devices) are only medium other than humans that can customize the content based on the user.

The scope of geotargetted information can range from the country to the building level. Generally, this type of technology strives for content geographically relevant from the exact location (footprint) of users to a few blocks in their vicinity.

Below is a list of sources both that are permanently affixed to a location (or move seldom) to one's that can pass through a location.

I've included sources still used today and some historical ones (including phone booth directories, remember those?). The messages that these media convey can range from the simple (e.g. one-word territory marker or a sale ad) to the complex (e.g. lengthy histories or narratives). Although some of my examples below are used largely for advertising and are not exclusively used for geotargetted information, they do have potential for other forms as well.

Permanently situated sources (or semi-permanent):

  • signs or notes (e.g. store signs, trail markers, etc.)
  • posters (sanctioned or non-official
  • graffiti
  • plaques (e.g. on building, in cement, on pole)
  • plaques directing to call specific phone numbers (e.g. per murmur project)
  • street signs, lamp post signs
  • phone directories in phone booths
  • info or help desks/booths people (e.g. at a mall, museum, visitor centre)
  • electronic directories or guides
  • billboards
  • media facades
  • sandwich boards
  • screens and monitors
  • sculptures
  • flags

Transient sources:

  • word of mouth
  • walking tours (e.g. lead by guide)
  • audio tours
  • books, e-books (e.g. guidebooks, history books, novels)
  • guestbooks
  • maps, atlases, chartspamphlet (e.g. local sites)
  • personal memories
  • newspapers (local or otherwise)
  • GPS devices
  • website (whether accessed via a mobile device or laptop)
  • geocoded user-generated content (e.g. photographs, tweets, reviews)

I'd love to know of any further examples, case studies, or research in this area.

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