Locative Media

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Locative Media is a term used to describe information accessible by location or information that includes location metadata. In technology, most locative media is enabled by GPS satellites, although methods of indoor location and audio-based location are in use. GPS allows devices on networks to locate the position of something, whether it is an IP address, physical address or a person's device.

There are many kinds of locative media. Some of the earliest examples of locative media are navigational applications for palm pilots, location-nased search and tour data[1][citation needed] based on what is currently nearby a given user. Later examples are friend finders, location-based advertising and real-time gaming.

Locative media presents both a challenge and an opportunity to users and developers. On the one hand, it is a system with the ability to provide "just in time" data based on the needs of the user. On the other hand, it is data accessible only to those with a GPS-enabled mobile device. Location as a service has been available for decades, but GPS chips have taken a long time to become ubiquitous. There were many early starts and failures in the mobile location industry far before the majority of mobile users had location capabilities on their phone. A report from O'Reilly and Ester Dyson in 2000 highlighted the many location-based startups at the beginning of the millennium[1][citation needed]. Though much of the technology worked, it was still expensive, unpolished, and inaccurate. The industry has a false start, and the tech bubble burst soon after, taking hopes of location-based technology with it.

Researchers at Xerox Parc built an Active Tag system that allowed employees to know where each other was in the building. This was build on a propriety network with expensive technology built for the specific solution[1][citation needed]. Over time, many point-based location-based solutions were developed, but before the Internet and the ability to hook into remote server databases, the idea of a ubiquitous communication between devices was not a possibility. The Internet got in the way.[2]

Amber Case and Aaron Parecki built a layer of geocoded Wikipedia articles on the Geoloqi platform[1][citation needed]. The layer pushed Wikipedia articles to users running the Geoloqi application. As the users walked around town, their location was detected and compared to a list of nearby entries. If the user was in the radius of an entry, that entry was pushed to their mobile device. Users could only access the data if they were in a specific location. Instead if simply listing articles nearby, or prompting a location-based search, the layer provided an ambient awareness of the articles without needing continual input from users.


  1. Citation needed
  2. Begole, Bo. Ubiquitous Computing for Business.