Thursday, February 20, 2014

Innovating in Mobile Experiences

Last evening, I was at the annual meeting for Canada's Mobile Experience Innovation Centre. MEIC is an organization headed by Sara Diamond devoted to mobile device research and sector strategy, and to incubating and nourishing mobile companies. I've been involved with MEIC since early in its inception and I'm a member of their Research Strategy working group.

The highlight of yesterday's meeting was a presentation by Rami Lama and Howard Goldkrand, directors from SapientNitro agency. Their talks provided a vision for new ways of interacting with mobile technology and physical and embodied reality, as the intro to their talk notes:
Our future is not simply about the evolution of new devices as much the interface ecologies around interacting with our data flows. The space of this innovation is happening in what might be called "X Reality" (cross reality), where the virtual and physical intersect. This "X-Reality" allows us to think less about the mobile device and more about mobility.\ The idea that the experience itself is mobile for those to interact anytime, any place and in the context in which they choose.
Their talks were quite short and my note-taking isn't what it used to be. Considering the brevity of their presentations and my notes, I only have highlights of their points. But it is so interesting, I thought I'd share it here.

Rami presented three key points for understanding and innovating in the mobile sector:

1) Proximity is powerful 
We have the ability to recognize a user's location and deliver content that speaks to the physical situation people are in.

2) Connect with context
Mobile media allows us to understand people and their physical and online circumstances. When we connect with user's context and deliver relevant experiences it can make for very powerful experiences.

3) Patterns are everywhere
People are creatures of habit, but we need to better understand the patterns of people, for instance how people move through spaces, to deliver meaningful and optimized experiences.

Rami also spoke on the concept of cross reality. Opposed to augmented reality, Rami notes that
"cross reality is not a virtual layer on top of the physical layer but rather a combining the two together in a relevant way".

It was the first time I heard this term, so I googled it. It seems to be gaining popularity (although some people are using it for exclusively physical and digital animations). I find it is similar to the concept of hybrid space, but I like the concept's focus on a harmonious blending of equally important spaces.

Howard presented on a bunch of different ways mobiles are already intersecting with physical reality and our bodies.  Howard presented a call-to-arms for mobile developers and companies to avoid getting trapped in existing paradigms of what mobiles can - or should be. He urged us to "stop thinking of devices but rather the interaction with the data they facilitate".

Citing the work of the artists collective Graffiti Group, Howard believes mobiles enable the city to act as an interface. He added that developers should "embrace non-usefullness" as way to create innovative and pleasing mobile content.

Sadly, this is a high-level report on the many interesting concepts and projects Howard and Rami spoke about. I'd love to hear more from them as I'm excited to hear of people here in Toronto pursuing similar approaches to what I'm investigating in my research.

Monday, February 17, 2014

There Were Trolls and Anonymous Bullies Long Before the Internet

Over the past year, I've been blogging about postcards on my other blog The Deltiology Deity. In going through my collection to prepare for Valentine's Day, I noticed some of my postcards that were not of the lovey-dovey sort that one typically encounters, but were rather crass.

In researching these, I discovered there was a tradition from the 1840s to 1940s in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. of sending "vinegar valentines".

Vinegar valentines were often sent anonymously to someone that senders didn't like or that they felt needed to be brought down a peg. This practice is much like the anonymous comments left on social network pages, forums, and comments (but without the visual component.)

Here's an example from my collection:
"Vinegar valentine", circa 1910

To see more examples, visit Google image search.  You can see some of the really mean ones there.

An article from Mental Floss notes that at one point half of valentines sales were of the vinegar flavour. An expert on this topic, Annebella Pollen, describes the tradition in a Collector's Weekly article:
There were so many different kinds. You could send them to your neighbors, friends, or enemies. You could send them to your schoolteacher, your boss, or people whose advances you wanted to dismiss. You could send them to people you thought were too ugly or fat, who drank too much, or people acting above their station. There was a card for pretty much every social ailment.... I suppose they could be considered a form of bullying, at least in their most extreme forms. A lot of them are quite playful and cheeky, though. Most are kind of a fond dig in the ribs. Some of the more playful ones I saw might depict, for example, a father discovering a couple canoodling behind the rose bush and pouring cold water out of a watering can on them. That's similar to the gentle humor you would find in an early silent film. So some show the age-old scenarios that are slightly risqué humorously delivered, rather than telling somebody they're stupid and that no one will ever want to marry them.
The above vinegar valentine was unsent. Most of the ones that were sent to people were not saved due to their often nasty nature.  I find it fascinating that this was not a marginal activity that last for a few years - it seems like the tradition was extremely popular and persisted for about 100 years.

I've noted elsewhere that communication forms and media norms don't develop in a vacuum - they have precedents throughout our history.  For example, gossip messages have been found in ancient Egyptian cities.

So despite the rhetoric over the Internet creating a culture of anonymous bullying, it is not true. Humans have used the communication forms and media available to them throughout the ages to expose their darker side. To understand what really creates this behaviour, we have to look deeper into human nature.

Friday, February 14, 2014

So who’s single? The Total Package app puts a number on it

I'm enjoying my Valentine's Day enjoying a cornucopia of treats my wife got me (Austrian chocolate, German marzipan, California jelly beans). For those single and commemorating today as "Singles Awareness Day" a friend of mine has launched an app to help assess your prospects.

Anne M. of Junia Matchmaking Services has let me re-post her announcement of her new app - just in time for this happy/horrid holiday.

From Anne M. at Junia Blog:

I'm excited beyond words to give my Canadian friends, fans, and well-wishers an extra special Singles Awareness Day treat this year! For the last several months, Alex Makes Apps has been working on a top-secret project for me: The Total Package, a shiny new Junia app for Android users.

Find out how many people actually exist who meet your terribly discerning dating criteria! As long as you’re not this guy (I don’t think anyone would ever be good enough for him).

Using relevant data from Statistics Canada, Health Canada, and the National Household Survey, The Total Package will calculate exactly how many people (living within as few as 5 or as many as 200 km of your home) meet your standards. Then this incredible app will astonish you further by projecting how many of them are already online dating!

Okay, so it is really just a nifty little reality check for those who have ever wondered, “is it just me?” If you’ve ever worried that you’re setting the bar too high, then this is your chance to find out. Maybe your friends are right and you’re far too picky. Or maybe you’re right, and you can triumphantly wave your phone in their faces to prove it! It’s also designed to be used over and over again, so you can amuse your friends, or simply adjust your parameters if you don’t like the numbers it’s giving you.

And if you need help choosing someone from all these possibilities, you know where to find me!

Download the app here:

The Total Package App by Junia
The app is perfect for everyone whose friends think they're too picky! Or not picky enough.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Key Literature on Locative Media & Location-Based Services

In the last few months, there has been a lot more academic literature published on locative media. There used to be so little academic, trade, or popular literature on the topic that it was easy to keep a handle on everything. But as the field matures, the volume of coverage grows.

Over the past two weeks, I've been updating my literature review on the topic. My focus is the content, user-experience, and adoption. I made a timeline of the key literature (below) to get a sense of the key scholars and when the concept has entered various domains (e.g. popular magazines, conferences, encyclopedias, dissertations, specialized journals, etc.). I've thrown in my articles to get some attention to my neglected work.

Bibliography of early, key, and my literature on locative media. The list is chronological order by year then by author surname:

Finnish Phone Maker Intros GPS/GSM Navigation Phone. (1999). Global Positioning & Navigation News, 9(21), 1.

Russell, B. (1999). Headmap Manifesto. Retrieved from

Tanikawa, M. (1999, July 26). A high-tech wonder that helps you wander. Time. Retrieved from

Cohn, M. (2002). It’s all about location. Internet World, 8(6), 44–46.

Hodes, T. D. (2002). Discovery and adaptation for location-based services (Doctoral dissertation). University of California, Berkeley.

Adams, P. M., Ashwell, G. W. B., & Baxter, R. (2003). Location-based services - An overview of the standards. BT Technology Journal, 21(1), 34–43.

Cuff, D. (2003). Immanent domain: Pervasive computing and the public realm. Journal of Architectural Education, 57(1), 43–49.

Kaasinen, E. (2003). User needs for location-aware mobile services. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 7(1), 70–79.

O’Donovan, C. (2003). Murmurings: An interview with members of the [murmur] collective. Year Zero One Forum, (12). Retrieved from

Rao, B., & Minakakis, L. (2003). Evolution of mobile location-based services. Communications of the ACM, 46(12), 61.

Gibbs, M. (2004). Locative media. Art Monthly, (280), 40–40.

Hemment, D. (2004, January 4). The locative dystopia. Retrieved from

Lima, P. (2004, September 2). It’s all about location, location, location. Backbone Magazine. Retrieved from

Tuters, M. (2004). Locative media as the digital production of nomadic space. Geography, 89(1), 78–82.

Küpper, A. (2005). Location-based services: Fundamentals and operation. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Chang, M., & Goodman, E. (2006). Asphalt games: Enacting place through locative media. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 14(3-4). Retrieved from

Galloway, A., & Ward, M. (2006). Locative media as socialising and spatializing practice. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 14(3-4). 

Hemment, D. (2006). Locative media. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 14(3-4). Retrieved from

Kraan, A. (2006). To act in public through geo-annotation social encounters through locative media art. Open, 11. Retrieved from

Manovich, L. (2006). The poetics of augmented space. Visual Communication, 5(2), 219–240.

Mccullough, M. (2006). On urban markup: Frames of reference in location models for participatory urbanism. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 14(3-4).

Shirvanee, L. (2006). Locative viscosity: Traces of social histories in public space. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 14(3-4).

Townsend, A. (2006). Locative-media artists in the contested-aware city. Leonardo, 39(4), 345–347.

Tuters, M., & Varnelis, K. (2006). Beyond locative media: Giving shape to the Internet of Things. Leonardo, 39(4), 357–363. doi:10.1162/leon.2006.39.4.357

Tuters, M., & Varnelis, K. (2006). Beyond locative media. In Networked Publics. Retrieved from

Wang, J., & Canny, J. (2006). End-user place annotation on mobile devices. In CHI ’06 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems (p. 1493). Montréal, PQ.

Blume, H. (2007, August 19). Q&A with William Gibson. The Boston Globe. Retrieved from

Crang, M., & Graham, S. (2007). Sentient cities: Ambient intelligence and the politics of urban space. Information, Communication & Society, 10(6), 789.

Ludford, P. J., Priedhorsky, R., Reily, K., & Terveen, L. (2007). Capturing, sharing, and using local place information. In Proc. of the SIGCHI Conf. on Human Factors in Comp. Systems (pp. 1235–1244). New York, NY, ACM.

May, A., Bayer, S. H., & Ross, T. (2007). A survey of “young social” and “professional” users of location-based services in the UK. Journal of Location Based Services, 1(2), 112–132.

Paay, J., & Kjeldskov, J. (2007). A gestalt theoretic perspective on the user experience of LBS. In Proc. of the 2007 Australasian Comp.-Human Interaction Conf. (pp. 283–290). Adelaide, Australia.

Raper, J., Gartner, G., Karimi, H., & Rizos, C. (2007). Applications of LBS: A selected review. Journal of Location Based Services, 1(2), 89.

Raper, J., Gartner, G., Karimi, H., & Rizos, C. (2007). A critical evaluation of LBS and their potential. Journal of Location Based Services, 1(1), 5–45.

Vollrath, C. (2007). The uncanny impulse of locative media. In International Communication Association.

Barkhuus, L., Brown, B., Bell, M., Sherwood, S., Hall, M., & Chalmers, M. (2008). From awareness to repartee: Sharing location within social groups. In Proceedings of the 26th Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 497–506). New York, NY: ACM.

Bridwell, S. (2008). Location-based services (LBS). In (K.Kemp, Ed.) Encyclopedia of geographic information science. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Erickson, I. M. (2008). On location: Socio-locative broadcasting as situated rhetorical action (Doctoral dissertation). Stanford University, CA.

Ladly, M. J. (2008). Designing for mobile: A walk in the park. Canadian Journal of Communication, 33(3).

Licoppe, C., & Inada, Y. (2008). Geolocalized technologies, location-aware communities, and personal territories: The Mogi case. Journal of Urban Technology, 15(3), 5.

Rizopoulos, C., Charitos, D., Kousompolis, D., & Kaimakamis, N. (2008). Towards a theoretical model of communication via locative media use. 2008 IET 4th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, 1–8.

Veronesi, F.,& Gemeinboeck, P. (2009). Mapping footprints: A sonic walkthrough of landscapes and cultures. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 15(3), 359–369.

Wilde, E., & Kofahl, M. (2008). The locative web. In Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Location and the Web (pp. 1–8). Beijing, China.

Brimicombe, A.,& Li, C. (2009). Location-based services and geo-information engineering. Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Edwardes, A. J. (2009). Geographical perspectives on location for location based services. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Location and the Web (pp. 1–4). Boston, MA.

Farman, J. (2009). Locative life: Geocaching, mobile gaming, and embodiment. In Proceedings of the Digital Arts and Culture.

Gay, G. (2009). Context-aware mobile computing: Affordances of space, social awareness, and social influence. Synthesis Lectures on Human-Centered Informatics, 2(1), 1–62. 

Harrison, B., & Dey, A. (2009). What have you done with location-based services lately? IEEE Pervasive Computing, 8(4), 66–70.

Prehofer, C. (2009). Real-world experiences with indoor location based services. In Proceedings of the 2009 international conference on Pervasive services (p. 143). London, UK. 

Beaumont, C. (2010, June 4). Foursquare blocked in China. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Berry, M., & Hamilton, M. (2010). Mobile computing applications: Bluetooth for local voices. Journal of Urban Technology, 17(2), 37.

de Souza e Silva, A., & Frith, J. (2010). Locative mobile social networks: mapping communication and location in urban spaces. Mobilities, 5(4), 485–505.

de Souza e Silva, A.,& Frith, J. (2010). Locational privacy in public spaces: Media discourses on location-aware mobile technologies. Communication, Culture & Critique, 3(4), 503–525.

Lemos, A. (2010). Post-mass media functions, locative media, and informational territories: New ways of thinking about territory, place, and mobility in contemporary society. Space & Culture, 13(4), 403–420.

Levy, S. (2010, August). A sense of place. Wired, 18(8), 60.

Schwarzer, M. (2010, June 8). Sense of place, a world of augmented reality. Design Observer Group. Retrieved from

Speed, C. (2010). Developing a sense of place with locative media: An “underview effect.” Leonardo, 43(2), 169–174.

Van Lammeren, R., & Goossen, M. (2010). Interactive location-based services: problems and perspectives on the example of a cultural site. Journal of Location Based Services, 4(2), 105. 

Zickuhr, K., & Smith, A. (2010). 4% of online Americans use location-based services. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Cornelio, G. S., & Ardévol, E. (2011). Practices of place-making through locative media artworks. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 36(3), 313–333.

Cramer, H., Rost, M., & Holmquist, L. E. (2011). Performing a check-in: Emerging practices, norms and “conflicts” in location-sharing using foursquare. In Proceedings of the 13th Intl. Conf. on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (pp. 57–66). New York, NY: ACM.

Evans, L. (2011). Location-based services: Transformation of the experience of space. Journal of Location Based Services, 1–19.

Farrelly, G. (February 28, 2011). Pondering effects of Foursquare. Backbone Magazine. Retrieved from

de Souza e Silva, A., & Sutko, D. (2011). Theorizing locative technologies through philosophies of the virtual. Communication Theory, 21(1), 23–42.

Gazzard, A. (2011). Location, location, location: Collecting space and place in mobile media. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 17(4), 405–417.

Gemeinboeck, P. (2011). Urban fictions: a critical reflection on locative art and performative geographies. Digital Creativity, 22(3), 160–173.

Greenspan, B. (2011). The new place of reading: Locative media and the future of narrative. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 5(3). Retrieved from

Humphreys, L., & Liao, T. (2011). Mobile geotagging: Reexamining our interactions with urban space. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 16(3), 407–423. 

Lapenta, F. (2011). Geomedia: On location-based media, the changing status of collective image production and the emergence of social navigation systems. Visual Studies, 26(1), 14–24.

Les liens invisibles. (2011, April 24). Invisible pink unicorn: Art overtakes faith in imagination. Retrieved from

Lindqvist, J., Cranshaw, J., Wiese, J., Hong, J., &  Zimmerman, J. (2011). I’m the mayor of my house. In Proceedings of the Conf. on Human Factors in Comp. Systems (p. 2409). Vancouver, BC: ACM.

Lovlie, A. S. (2011). Annotative locative media and G-P-S: Granularity, participation, and serendipity. Computers and Composition, 28(3), 246–254.

Microsoft. (2011). Location based services usage and perceptions survey presentation. Retrieved from

Mountain, D. (2011). From LBS to location-based learning: Challenges and opportunities for higher education. In D. Unwin, N. Tate, K. Foote, & D. DiBiase (Eds.), Teaching Geographic Information Science & Technology in Higher Education (p. 327–). Wiley

Schwartz, M. (2011, April). It’s good to be the mayor. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved from

Sutko, D., & de Souza e Silva, A. (2011). Location-aware mobile media and urban sociability. New Media & Society, 13(5), 807–823.

Zickuhr, K., & Smith, A. (2011). 28% of American adults use mobile and social location-based services. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Bilandzic, M. (2012). A review of locative media, mobile and embodied spatial interaction. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 70(1), 66–71.

Farman, J. (2012). Mobile interface theory: Embodied space and locative media. New York, NY: Routledge.

Farrelly, G. (2012). The role of location-based services in shaping sense of place. In Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 49(1), 1–3.

Frith, J. H. (2012). Constructing location, one check-in at a time: Examining the practices of Foursquare users (Doctoral dissertation). North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

Oie, K. V. (2012). Sensing the news: User experiences when reading locative news. Future Internet, 4(1), 161–178.

Smith, C. E. (2012). Checking in: A phenomenological study of active users of geolocational tagging services. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 49(1), 1–5.

Southern, J. (2012). Comobility: How proximity and distance travel together in locative media. Canadian Journal of Communication, 37(1), 75–91.

TNS. (2012). Two thirds of world’s mobile users signal they want to be found. London, UK. Retrieved from

Tan, C.., Khan, M. S. Z., Silvadorai, T., Anwar, T., & Ramadass, S. (2012). A glimpse into the Research Space of LBS. Journal of Advances in Information Technology, 3(2), 91–106.

Tussyadiah, I. P., &  Zach, F. J. (2012). The role of geo-based technology in place experiences. Annals of Tourism Research, 39(2), 780–800.

Vasconcelos, M. A., Ricci, S., Almeida, J., Benevenuto, F., & Almeida, V. (2012). Tips, dones and todos: uncovering user profiles in Foursquare. In Proceedings of the 5th ACM Itnl. Conf. on Web Search & Data Mining (pp. 653–662). New York, NY: ACM.

Wilken, R., & Goggin, G. (Eds.). (2012). Mobile Technology and Place. New York, NY: Routledge.

Zeffiro, A. (2012). location of one’s own: A genealogy of locative media, A. Convergence, 18(3), 249–266.

Zickuhr, K. (2012). Three-quarters of smartphone owners use location-based services. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Boulton, A. (2013, January 1). Locative media, augmented realities and the ordinary American landscape (Doctoral dissertation). University of Kentucky, Lexington. Retrieved from

Boulton, A., & Zook, M. (2013). Landscape, locative media, and the duplicity of code. In N. C. Johnson, R. H. Schein, & J. Winders (Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Cultural Geography (pp. 437–451). Wiley.

Evans, L. (2013, March). Revealing place in the sprawl: A phenomenological investigation into location-based social networking (Doctoral dissertation). Swansea University, UK.

Farrelly, G. (2013). Putting locative technology in its sense of place. In 2013 IEEE International Symposium on Technology &Society, (pp. 237–242).

Frith, J. (2013). Turning life into a game: Foursquare, gamification, and personal mobility. Mobile Media & Communication, 1(2), 248–262.

Graaf, S. van der, & Vanobberghen, W. (2013). At home in Brussels: Professional mobility as a service. First Monday, 18(11). Retrieved from

Humphreys, L., & Liao, T. (2013). Foursquare and the parochialization of public space. First Monday, 18(11).

Lodi, S. (2013). Spatial art: An eruption of the digital into the physical. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 19(2). Retrieved from

Nitins, T., &; Collis, C. (2013). “Grounding the internet”: Categorising the geographies of locative media. Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, (146), 69+.

Pinder, D. (2013). Dis-locative arts: mobile media and the politics of global positioning. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 27(4), 523–541.

Schianchi, A. (2013). Location-based virtual interventions: transcending space through mobile augmented reality as a field for artistic creation. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 19(2), 112–124.

Sharples, M., FitzGerald, E., Mulholland, P., & Jones, R. (2013). Weaving location and narrative for mobile guides. In C. Schrøder & K. Drotner (Eds.), Museum Communication & Social Media: The Connected Museum (pp. 177–196). New York, NY: Routledge. 

Zickuhr, K. (2013). Location-based services. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Evans, L. (2014). Being-towards the social: Mood and orientation to location-based social media, computational things and applications. New Media & Society.

Farrelly, G. Irreplaceable: The role of geotargetted place information in a location based service. Journal of Location Based Services.

Hjorth, L., & Pink, S. (2014). New visualities and the digital wayfarer: Reconceptualizing camera phone photography and locative media. Mobile Media & Communication, 2(1), 40–57.

Please let me know if I missed a key work...