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Crowd-Sourced Augmented Realities: Social Media and the Power of Digital Representation

Pre-publication version of a chapter in Zook, M., Graham, M., and Boulton, A. 2015. Crowd-sourced Augmented Realities: Social Media and the Power of Digital Representation. In Mediated Geographies International Handbook. eds. Mains, S., Cupples, J.,and Lukinbeal, C. New York: Springer. 223-242

19 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2014 Last revised: 1 Dec 2015

Matthew Zook

University of Kentucky

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Andrew Boulton

University of Kentucky - Department of Geography

Date Written: July 1, 2013

Abstract

A key and distinguishing feature of society today is that its increasingly documented by crowd-sourced social media discourse about public experiences. Much of this social media content is geo-referenced and exists in layers of information draped over the physical world, invisible to the naked eye but accessible to range of digital (and often) mobile devices. When we access these information layers, they mediate the mundane practices of everyday life, (e.g., What or who is nearby? How do I move from point A to B) through the creation of augmented realities, i.e., unstable, context dependent representations of places brought temporary into being by combining the space of material and virtual experience.

These augmented realities, as particular representations of locations, places and events, are vigorously promoted or contested and thus become important spots in which power is exercised, much in the same way that maps have long had power to reinforce or challenge the status quo. However, because many of the processes and practices behind the creation of augmented realities are unseen, its power is often overlooked in the process of representation or place-making. This paper highlights the points at which power acts and demonstrate that all representations of place – including augmented realities derived from social media – are products of and productive of, social relationships and associated power relations.

Building upon a case study of Abbottabad, Pakistan after the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound we construct a four-part typology of the power relations emerging from social practices that enact augmented realities. These include: Distributed power, the complex and socially/spatially distributed authorship of user-generated geospatial content; Communication power, the ways in which particular representations gain prominence; language is a particularly key variable; Code power, the autonomy of software code to regulate actions, or mediate content, or ordering representations in particular ways; and Timeless power, the ways in which digital representations of place reconfigure temporal relationships, particularly sequence and duration, between people and events.

Keywords: augmented realities, geoweb, social media, geography, internet

JEL Classification: L86,

Suggested Citation

Zook, Matthew and Graham, Mark and Boulton, Andrew, Crowd-Sourced Augmented Realities: Social Media and the Power of Digital Representation (July 1, 2013). Pre-publication version of a chapter in Zook, M., Graham, M., and Boulton, A. 2015. Crowd-sourced Augmented Realities: Social Media and the Power of Digital Representation. In Mediated Geographies International Handbook. eds. Mains, S., Cupples, J.,and Lukinbeal, C. New York: Springer. 223-242. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2469250

Matthew Zook (Contact Author)

University of Kentucky ( email )

Lexington, KY 40506
United States

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.geospace.co.uk

Andrew Boulton

University of Kentucky - Department of Geography ( email )

Lexington, KY 40506-0027
United States

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