Geographies of locative apps

Authored by: Peta Mitchell , Marcus Foth , Irina Anastasiu

Routledge Handbook of Media Geographies

Print publication date:  October  2021
Online publication date:  October  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367482855
eBook ISBN: 9781003039068
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the rise of locative apps and services and the emergence of geolocation as an enabling platform within the digital data economy. In outlining the geographies of locative apps, we consider their spatial infrastructures, affordances and emerging cultural economies, and focus on three key themes. First, we trace the historical emergence of mobile geolocation along with theorizations about the new “hybrid” forms of spatiality being generated in its wake. Second, we discuss the spatial affordances and infrastructures of location-based apps and services, outlining the various ways in which location is operationalized within and through smartphones. Our final theme addresses how mobile geolocation has contributed to an expanding location economy. We particularly focus on the very real and significant implications for privacy and surveillance that the location industry poses, and in conclusion we offer potential pathways to a more equitable (locative) data future.

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