Mobilities and Urban Encounters in Public Places in the Age of Locative Media. Seams, Folds, and Encounters with ‘Pseudonymous Strangers’

Licoppe, Christian

This paper provides an analytical framework in which to understand the particulars of digital mobilities, that is the experience and conduct of proximity – or location – aware connected bodies on the move. I argue that the locative media which promotes such forms of awareness make available two versions of the surrounding world, one embodied, one on screen, which articulate with the same ‘here and now,’ so that a crucial feature of user experience is to recognize and match entities appearing in both versions. The corresponding set of practices may be glossed as a situated ‘unfolding.’ Finally, I will apply this understanding to discuss future mobilities in urban public places and show how the spread of locative media promotes encounters between ‘pseudonymous strangers,’ in lieu of the encounters between anonymous strangers which interactionist urban studies deemed crucial to the twentieth-century western metropolitan experience.