Platform specificity and the politics of location data extraction

Barreneche, C and Wilken, R 2015, 'Platform specificity and the politics of location data extraction', European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 18, no. 4-5, pp. 497-513.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Platform specificity and the politics of location data extraction
Author(s) Barreneche, C
Wilken, R
Year 2015
Journal name European Journal of Cultural Studies
Volume number 18
Issue number 4-5
Start page 497
End page 513
Total pages 17
Publisher Sage Publications Ltd.
Abstract The rise of smart phone use, and its convergence with mapping infrastructures and large search and social media corporations, has led to a commensurate rise in the importance of location. While locations are still defined by fixed longitude/latitude coordinates, they now increasingly 'acquire dynamic meaning as a consequence of the constantly changing location-based information that is attached to them' becoming 'a near universal search string for the world's data'. As the richness of this geocoded information increases, so the commercial value of this location information also increases. This article examines the growing commercial significance of location data. Informed by recent calls for 'medium-specific analysis', we build on earlier work to argue that social media companies actively extract location data for commercial advantage in quite specific ways. By not paying due and careful attention to the specifics of data extraction strategies, political and cultural economic analyses of new media services risk eliding key differences between new media platforms, and their respective software systems, patterns of consumer use, and individual revenue models. In response, we develop a comparative analysis of two platforms - Foursquare and Google - and examine how each extracts and uses geocoded user data. From this comparative exploration of platform specificity, we aim to draw conclusions concerning marketing (economic) surveillance, and how Foursquare's and Google's operations work in the service of fostering the securitization of mobility - the process by which the capacity to track and predict mobility and associated patterns of consumption is directly productive of value.
Subject Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified
DOI - identifier 10.1177/1367549415577386
Copyright notice © The Author(s) 2015
ISSN 1367-5494
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