Mobile & Locative Media

Module Description

This module examines net locality, a term used by Adriana de Souza e Silva to describe “a new logic for digital networks in which physical location defines how we interact with people and information around us.”(1) Enabled by smartphones and other mobile devices, we find ourselves immersed in a flow of data and information that increasingly animates the urban environment. Access to the Internet via GPS coordinates, annotating space and location aware authoring tools allow us to “read and write” the city with dynamic layers of text, images, and video. From audio-walks, and mobile games, to new apps supporting user generated content and location based social networks, students are asked to consider the ways in which location based information is changing the ways in which we interact with one another and with urban spaces.

(1) de Souza e Silva, A. “Mobile Narratives: Reading and Writing Urban Space with Location Based Technologies,” in Comparative Textual Media: Transforming the Humanities in the Post Print Era. eds. K. Hayles and J. Pressman. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013, p 13.

Module Level: Introductory - requires no prior knowledge.

Complimentary Modules:
Mobile Gaming: Theory and Design
Mobile Storytelling in Augmented Reality Environments

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • assess the impact of net-locality on their experiences navigating the city;
  • reflect on how everyday interactions are influenced by location based social networks;
  • speculate about how new mobile technologies and locations based apps could change the way we navigate and interact with cities of the future.
Suggested Learning Activities and Assignments

Drawing on concepts from short video lectures, and interviews with artists, designers and App developers students learn key concepts relevant to location defines mobile interactions.

Location Aware Mobile Apps (Case Studies): Working in small groups students identify a locative media project or set of location based services to develop a case study utilizing online resources and documentation.

Design Fiction (Group Project): Working in groups, students speculate and create a short video proposing a new app for mobile devices and location based services/social networks in the future.


Michael Longford (York University) is an Associate Professor in the Digital Media, and director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology. His most recent project, “Tentacles,” was included in the exhibition, Talk to Me at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2011). Michael has served on the Academic Technology Advisory Committee, which develops University policy and makes recommendations for how best to integrate technology in support of pedagogy for eLearning.