Locative Media

In recent times, locative media have caused quite a stir, with media outlets arousing fears of privacy invasion, hacking, increased stalker activity and the degradation of human socialisation. One example of recent media sensationalism is Apple and Google’s ‘Locationgate’ of early 2011, where both companies were caught supposedly misusing smartphone users’ location data.

Michel Foucault’s notion of the ‘Panopticon’ has dominated (Manovich, 2006), whereby we are under constant surveillance, often without even knowing it. The truth is, however, that locative media are not really dystopian. Instead, locative carry great potential for social networking, self-actualisation, education and entertainment.

Locative media present opportunities for rich, transmedia storytelling through convergent mobile channels (Chan, 2008). More recently, this has come in the form of augmented reality entertainment and gaming, which gives users a sense of ‘co-presence’ or a ‘doubled perception of space’ (de Souza e Silva and Sutko, 2011).

Following the success of early augmented reality applications like Botfighters (Sweden, 2001-2005) and Mogi (Japan, 2003-2006) (de Souza e Silva and Sutko, 2011), and technology like photo geotagging, new and exciting locative concepts are constantly being developed. One impressive example is ‘Augmented Reality Cinema’, an app currently under development for iOS by a group of London developers, which enables an iPhone user walking through London to view famous cinematic scenes filmed in their recognised location, using the inbuilt camera, screen and GPS module.

‘Augmented Reality Cinema’ and similar future applications could have enormous international benefits for tourism, entertainment and education. Film-makers and advertisers could benefit from the promotion of included films, local businesses could profit by pure association, and features like historical footage could be integrated to produce an ‘augmented reality timeline’, educating locals and tourists alike about their surroundings.


Chan, D., 2008, ‘Convergence, Connectivity and the Case of Japanese Mobile Gaming’, Games and Culture, Vol. 3, pp. 13-25, retrieved 16/03/2012, Sage Publications Online Database.

de Souza e Silva, A. and Sutko, D., 2011, ‘Theorizing Locative Technologies Through Philosophies of the Virtual’, Communication Theory, Vol. 21, International Communication Association, pp. 23-42, retrieved 23/03/2012, Wiley Online Database.

Manovich, L., 2006, ‘The Poetics of Augmented Space’, Visual Communication, Vol. 5, pp. 219-240, retrieved 23/03/2012, Sage Publications Online Database.


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