research link dump: (mobile) branding, (geo)tagging, and (virtual) graffiti

By | March 18, 2010

So this weekly round-up is a bit different from my usual semi-regular link dump of stuff I’ve been reading. The past couple of weeks, I’ve been lax on blogging the past couple of weeks because I’ve been busy firing my little synapses at issues surrounding the how branding + geotagging/location check-in (e.g. foursquare, gowalla) affect how we encounter urban and public space (and each other within it. It’s quickly turning into a full blown captical-P Project. I’ll start posting some prelimenary thoughts/questions next week, but for now, some of posts, articles, and books that I’ve been drawing on in the initial concept mapping phase.

So, in a way, this is part link-dump, part project-emergence-documentation.

I started thinking about these issues with the recent surge in discussions of brand collaborations with popular geolocation social games, especial with all the chatter in SXSW reports about the rise of location-specific (I know people are using the term geolocation, but I’ve yet to really embrace that tautology) games and social networking tools.

  • Daniel Terdiman reported that Foursquare and Gowalla trumped twitter this year in terms of cutting through the noise of the conference backchannels.
  • And the prevalence of location check-ins was one of the biggest take-aways from Jay Baer’s SXSW observations.
  • Clement Yueng at Social Media Examiner writes about how businesses can leverage geotagging to build their brands.
  • Last month a number of Entertainment and Media brands linked up with Foursquare
  • And universities are jumping on the wagon, with Marc Parry at the Chronicle of Higher Education discussing the rise of “virtual graffiti” initiatives.

Location check-in networks therefore have two obvious precedents: display advertising and graffiti culture.

  • For display advertising and public space, I’ve been digging into City Reading: Written Words and Public Spaces in Antebellum New York by David M. Henkin, which discusses the way branded communications and marketing transformed public space and how we perceive information as a culture.
  • One of the (geographic) sites of interest is Sao Paulo, a city famous for its unique graffiti culture and for banning outdoor advertising. Hector Fernando Burga’s briefly outlines [pdf] a number of papers given at the Decentering Urban Theory conference at UC Berkeley focusing on new productions of urban space, including one by Prof. Teresa Caldeira on the “auto-construction” of Sao Paulo, where citizens engage in slow, collaborative, ad-hoc rebuilding of the city. These and other sites like it reveal “another dimension of place-making” that geotagging and location check-ins also seem to fit into.
  • Also on the urban theory front, I’m looking into a classic in the field, Kevin Lynch’s Image of the City.
  • And going in the other direction, I’m trying to think of how to situate the geolocation social activities between public and private, and starting with The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, which explores how we encounter the most intimate and domestic spaces.
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