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Title: Localizing the media, locating ourselves : a critical comparative analysis of socio-spatial sorting in locative media platforms (Google and Flickr 2009-2011)
Author: Barreneche, Carlos
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 5612
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 2012
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In this thesis I explore media geocoding (i.e., geotagging or georeferencing), the process of inscribing the media with geographic information. A process that enables distinct forms of producing, storing, and distributing information based on location. Historically, geographic information technologies have served a biopolitical function producing knowledge of populations. In their current guise as locative media platforms, these systems build rich databases of places facilitated by user-generated geocoded media. These geoindexes render places, and users of these services, this thesis argues, subject to novel forms of computational modelling and economic capture. Thus, the possibility of tying information, people and objects to location sets the conditions to the emergence of new communicative practices as well as new forms of governmentality (management of populations). This project is an attempt to develop an understanding of the socio-economic forces and media regimes structuring contemporary forms of location-aware communication, by carrying out a comparative analysis of two of the main current location-enabled platforms: Google and Flickr. Drawing from the medium-specific approach to media analysis characteristic of the subfield of Software Studies, together with the methodological apparatus of Cultural Analytics (data mining and visualization methods), the thesis focuses on examining how social space is coded and computed in these systems. In particular, it looks at the databases’ underlying ontologies supporting the platforms' geocoding capabilities and their respective algorithmic logics. In the final analysis the thesis argues that the way social space is translated in the form of POIs (Points of Interest) and business-biased categorizations, as well as the geodemographical ordering underpinning the way it is computed, are pivotal if we were to understand what kind of socio-spatial relations are actualized in these systems, and what modalities of governing urban mobility are enabled.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available