User-Generated Map & Meaning Making via Foursquare Presented by   Glen Farrelly
Sense of Place
Foursquare
User-generated Content
Method
Contextual Inquiry
Findings
Foursquare User Types The Curious Wants to see what’s going on  The Narcissist Publishes vanity information The Gamer Stri...
Citizen Cartographers
Geography as Statement
What’s on the Map? <ul><ul><li>Communal events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal narratives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C...
Layers of Meaning
Conclusion
Further Information <ul><ul><li>Elwood, S. (2006). Critical Issues in participatory GIS: Deconstructions, reconstructions,...
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User-Generated Map and Meaning Making via Foursquare

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Due to prior technical barriers, it was difficult for citizens to make and distribute their own maps and geographic information. The mobile application Foursquare , however, is giving citizens the power to define, annotate, and discover their own spaces.

Published in: Technology, Spiritual
  • SLIDE 1
    Foursquare’s motto is to “unlock your city”. For once marketing hyperbole is correct, as I believe Foursquare is giving citizens new power to define, annotate, and discover their own spaces. The fields of cartography and geographic information systems, I would argue, have been dominated by professional elites and commercial interest. Due to prior technical barriers, it was difficult for citizens to make and distribute their own maps. In this context, I’m referring to maps and geographic systems in the human geographic sense. Our world is full of layers of human geographic data, yet there hasn’t been ways to feasibly share this. Yet the congruence of technology, business, and user behaviour that Foursquare facilitates has opened the doors to user-generated map and meaning making.

    My research examined how are people using Foursquare and how it affects our relationship to place.
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  • SLIDE 2

    Most places are rich with meaning, much of it we will never know. The layers of meaning can include the social, historical, political, and personal.

    I’ll give an example. The A on this map refers to 1 Toronto Street, Toronto. It’s easy to miss Toronto Street, but it used to a main street. Visiting it today, you’d see a generic office tower. You wouldn’t know that this is where I used to work, that it has amazing paninis, that it’s across the street from where Conrad Black destroyed evidence, or that it used to be where people were publicly executed.

    Some of this information may or may not be useful or interesting to you. But until recently you would not have been able to tap into that diversity of information instantly and on the spot. Applications such as Foursquare are providing an information sharing platform – and enabling citizens to decide what to populate it with.
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  • SLIDE 3
    Before looking at some of the specifics of my research, I should explain Foursquare. It is a downloadable application that runs on most smartphones and has a companion website.
    The application combines social networking with a never-ending gaming. Users are encouraged to add friends to their network and then regularly share their location (called a “check-in”) and associated comments. Users compete for honours and possible financial incentives from participating businesses through multiple check-ins. Users can add locations & defining details to the Foursquare database. By providing an address or intersection, Foursquare then automatically georeferences this data. Using GPS, uses can then receive information from the application based on their proximity.. Information returned to users is thus based on the geographic relevance rather than keyword or category as other systems use. Business can also pay to offer special deals appears essentially as an advertisement to users based on their proximity to the business.

    There are competing geolocation applications - predominantly, Facebook Places and Gowalla – but Foursquare is the leader with 6 million users. A recent Pew survey indicated that 4% of online Americans use such a location-based service. This seems small, but it is believed that this market will grow as smartphones continues their widespread adoption.

    Here you can see 3 shots of the application, on the left the application as it looks on a Blackberry. A users can search by name or proximity for a location and then “check in” to it. The middle picture is from an iPod Touch device and show the social networking capabilities. After signing in, users see the recent checkins of their friends. The picture on the right shows users tips for a specific location – the eggs at Court Jester were apparently quite delish.
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  • SLIDE 4
    This screenshot shows our current location. You can see that Andrea D. has taken the mayor title away from me. This pictures demonstrate the citizen involvement required for this application. When Foursquare was initially available in Toronto early last year, all locations had to be manually entered by users. The mapping interface is provided by Google’s API, but all other data came from users. Users provide the address and contact info, categorize the type of location from a preset list, tag it however they wish, and can add tips (as demonstrated by my rather prosaic tip).

    There are precedents to this type of citizen behaviour from people tying paper notes to trees or GPS systems that allowed people to annotate geographic coordinates. Even Foursquare’s founder created a previous application called Dodgeball that used text-messaging (SMS) for this. The phenomenon is not necessarily new, but I do believe it is hitting a likely new level of a critical mass and widespread adoption.
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  • SLIDE 5
    To understand the usage of Foursquare I conducted a multifaceted ethnography last summer. This included:
    Five email and two in-person semi-structured interviews
    Remote observation for one month focused on six users, ten various venues, and general usage
    Autoethnography – recording my own initial usage through my blog
    Visual analysis of the mobile application and website
    Media monitoring of Foursquare news and blog coverage
    Contextual inquiry – one session

    Although Foursquare has privacy settings, many users choose to make their data public (as seen here from Foursquare’s homepage). This provides a rich source of data for researchers. In addition, I recruited participants via social media and snowballing to allow me to gain more insight on user behaviour.

    My hometown of Toronto, Canada and was selected as the predominant focus of study both for convenience and as Foursquare appeared to have achieved a critical mass of usage there. Participants from additional locales across North America were also sought to expand the reach of the study.
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User-Generated Map and Meaning Making via Foursquare

  1. 1. User-Generated Map & Meaning Making via Foursquare Presented by Glen Farrelly
  2. 2. Sense of Place
  3. 3. Foursquare
  4. 4. User-generated Content
  5. 5. Method
  6. 6. Contextual Inquiry
  7. 7. Findings
  8. 8. Foursquare User Types The Curious Wants to see what’s going on The Narcissist Publishes vanity information The Gamer Strives for honours & titles The Advocate Promotes socio-political causes The Professional Furthers their business goals The Cartographer Adds & helps define places The Socializer Seeks to make & communicate with friends The Explorer Finds new places & offerings
  9. 9. Citizen Cartographers
  10. 10. Geography as Statement
  11. 11. What’s on the Map? <ul><ul><li>Communal events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal narratives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consumer advice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expressions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Histories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Redundancies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Narcissism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spam </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incomprehensible mutterings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Statements of the obvious </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Layers of Meaning
  13. 13. Conclusion
  14. 14. Further Information <ul><ul><li>Elwood, S. (2006). Critical Issues in participatory GIS: Deconstructions, reconstructions, and new research directions. Transactions in GIS , 10(5), 693-708. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Holtzblatt, K., & Jones, S. (1993). Contextual inquiry: A participatory technique for system design. In D. Schuler & A. Namioka (Eds.), Participatory design: Principles and practices (pp. 177-210). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schwarzer, M. (2010, June). A sense of place, a world of augmented reality. Places . Retrieved from http://places.designobserver.com/entry.html?entry=13618 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tulloch, D. L. (2007). Many, many maps: Empowerment and online participatory mapping. First Monday, 12(2). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1620/1535 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Zickuhr, K., & Smith, A. (2010). 4% of online Americans use location-based services. Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Location-based-services.aspx </li></ul></ul>

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