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Jordan Frith, Smartphones as Locative Media.

Jordan Frith, Smartphones as Locative Media. Cambridge: Polity Press, 201S; ISBN: 9780745685007, 182 pp. A$111.95 (hard back), A$35.95 (paper back).

In Smartphones as Locative Media, Jordan Frith's central thesis is that in viewing smartphones as a form of locative media, it is possible to illustrate not only the effect physical place has on mobile Internet but also the effect mobile Internet has on physical places. The book provides a comprehensive perspective on these issues and relationships between technology and space, shifting between historical specificities of technologies and their adoption into wider cultural and industry practices, following a series of detailed explorations of past and contemporary locative media. Frith begins his analysis with questions of 'place', theoretically unpacking the history of place in relation to networked technologies. Moving beyond dated metaphors of the Internet as a separate place, Frith explores the intertwined nature of place and mobile technology, focusing on mobile infrastructure, practices of engaging with mobile and locative media, and the influence of market and regulatory forces.

The theoretical foundations for the book are staged in the first few chapters. Here, Frith deals with the complex historical negotiations surrounding the concept of place. Starting with the spatial turn. Frith traces understandings of place and space through the sociological mobilities paradigm, towards contemporary conceptualisation and mediations of place. With the theoretical framework established, the book turns towards the infrastructural foundations of locative media. Frith provides a historical overview of how place and location have been increasingly integrated into technological assemblages.

Frith deals with contemporary practices of engaging with locative media, from everyday navigational practices, social networks formed via and grounded in an articulation of location, and the practice of achieving and writing place. Alongside these ideas, the book focuses on the role markets and regulatory factors play in shaping the emergence and practices surrounding locative media. Key to these chapters are issues of privacy--both institutional and social. On the one hand, Frith unpacks the economics and value of these services as a form of monetising location, social interactions and the creation of large and undoubtable highly valuable sets of data. On the other, Frith pays specific attention to the social forces that shape users' privacy concerns.

The future of locative media is built from many different power dynamics, of which privacy is just one. Increasing adoption rates in the global south leads Frith to hypothesise that the future of locative media, as a form of mediating place and as an area of scholarship, perhaps lies in the global south. Of particular interest is the rise of Chinese-based social media networks predicated on mobile technology, the co-sharing of individualised media devices in Brazil, and the increasing use of mobile banking in Kenya.

The strength of Frith's work lies in his ability to shift between historical specificities of both locative media and conceptualisations of place and space. This, coupled with anecdotal interjections of the authors' engagements and experiences with mobile technology and place, creates an easily digestible and comprehensive overview of how we may come to think of smartphones as a form of locative media.

DOI: 10.1177/1329878X16652569

Kyle Moore

University of Sydney, Australia
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Author:Moore, Kyle
Publication:Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy
Article Type:Book review
Date:Aug 1, 2016
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