“空间自我”:社交媒体上基于位置的认同之舞

#研究分享#【“空间自我”:社交媒体上基于位置的认同之舞】用户越来越多的在基于位置的社交媒体上展示地理位置信息,研究者用“空间自我”作为一种理论框架来标签和分析这种“数字足迹”文化实践现象,用户借由它以表现各自的网络身份和认同,并管理自我在社交媒体上的呈现。

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【文章全文】The spatial self: Location-based identity performance on social media

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Abstract

As a growing number of social media platforms now include location information from their users, researchers are confronted with new online representations of individuals, social networks, and the places they inhabit. To better understand these representations and their implications, we introduce the concept of the “spatial self”: a theoretical framework encapsulating the process of online self-presentation based on the display of offline physical activities. Building on previous studies in social science, humanities, and computer and information science, we analyze the ways offline experiences are harnessed and performed online. We first provide an encompassing interdisciplinary survey of research that investigates the relationships between location, information technology, and identity performance. Then, we identify and characterize the spatial self as well as examine its occurrences through three case studies of popular social media sites: Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare. Finally, we offer possible research directions and methodological considerations for the analysis of geocoded social media data.

 

Keywords

Facebook, Foursquare, identity, Instagram, location-based social media, performance, social media, spatial self

Discussion

We have proposed the spatial self as a term that categorizes a common cultural practice as well as a lens through which to study the growing number of geocoded representations on locative and social media. Given the multiple and distinct depictions of the spatial self produced over a variety of platforms and within a variety of contexts and situations, this section identifies some of the unique opportunities the spatial self introduces for study­ing individuals, physical places, and social networks. More specifically, we consider how studying articulations of the spatial self via social media may yield valuable infor­mation pertaining to differential mobility patterns, polysemic meanings of place, and collective geographical patterns of social networks.

The spatial self is an additional means through which people perform their online identity and manage self-presentation on SNS and location-based social media. Just like other online representations of self, this form of representation carries many biases and limitations that researchers should take into consideration in their work. While there is still much to be learned about relationships between digital productions of mobility, self-presentation, sociality, and place, these representations of physical activities should not be assumed to be accurate. The spatial self reminds researchers that these digital traces are produced and embedded within particular social contexts, significations sys­tems, and subject to certain audiences and norms. If anything, they are more performa­tive than precise. Therefore, the spatial self is a concept that urges methodological caution in analyzing location-based social media data, patterns of mobility iterated through social media, and location-announcement online.

However, these streams of data might provide researchers, technology developers, and urban planners with ways to access local insights and behaviors that were not previ­ously available. The spatial self provides several unique aspects that can help researchers better understand collective and individual experiences and mobilities within urban space. In the following section, we identify three categories of possible directions of study that set the spatial self apart from other forms of online representation of the self.

Individual users

The spatial self offers a way to study the profile of individual social media users based on their physical activity. Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare users exhibit and archive physical experiences alongside other markers of identity and employ the spatial self as a way to communicate where they are/were, what they are/were doing, as well as who they are. For example, during an interview with a food blogger (Halegoua, 2011), the inter­viewee noted that she would only check-in to restaurants that she personally recom­mends and that mesh with her tastes and sensibilities displayed on other online profiles and sites. This type of selection and curation of check-ins demonstrates one way social media users coordinate and incorporate the places displayed in their profile with other presentations of self. This aspect of the spatial self might speak more directly to social media researchers who are interested in analyzing ways in which people express them­selves online and we encourage them to think about place and space as strategically chosen markers of identity and active agents in the process of online identity work.

The spatial self is a way to gain access to personal and collective memories and a way to share and display these memories in order to connect with others. Through investiga­tions of the spatial self on social media, researchers can gain access to diverse experiences of geography and mobility in relationship to class, race, gender, sexuality, and other mark­ers of social identity; potentially disrupting hierarchical or hegemonic manners of under­standing physical space and place. Moreover, the production of geocoded digital traces can reveal unique, selective daily patterns of mobility. Aggregating and visualizing data from social media platforms can provide researchers with new ways to study patterns of different users based on their historical activity throughout the city. As some users take pictures, tweet or, check-in in many geographical locations, others’ activities are confined to a small subset of the city’s area, revealing the unique patterns for each user. In the Phototrails project, Hochman and Manovich (2013) demonstrated how researchers can follow an individual user’s online activity and visualize their pattern of mobility based on the type of places frequented (Figure 2). As the user’s actions are highly curated and intended to present a certain depiction of the self, the type of places users select to check-into or take photos of hold valuable meaning beyond their physical location.

Physical place

Using large amounts of digital traces, researchers can study the character of specific physical places through new lenses. Utilizing users’ historical actions on social media sets the foundation for dynamic narratives of a physical place. Examining the patterns that emerge from the users’ demographics, comments, tips, photos, and videos, we can infer how certain places function within particular social landscapes (Schwartz and Hochman, 2014).

The communicative act of cataloging inner space (social distance or intimacy between people), outer space (physical distance between people in public space), and metaspace (which we expand to mean social space or social interactions that take place under cer­tain conditions, contexts, or situations at given times) is present within all of the plat­forms discussed in this article and can be used to signify important markers of identity (Humphreys, 2012). Studying expressions of the spatial self can teach us about the popu­larity and the patrons of a specific place. For example, vast work has been done in the field of computer science to identify landmarks and points of interests that have high visibility (most shared or tagged) on social media data (Kennedy and Naaman, 2008). Other studies utilized users’ profile data such as home city and past activity to denote a place most frequented by tourists or locals (Fischer, 2011).

Finally, the spatial self can help researchers uncover the polysemic meaning of a physical place. Places have multiple meanings to the same person or to different types of people, and these meanings may change over time. Representations of the spatial self can provide an entry point into accessing and reading these polyvocal interpretations and meanings of place. The contexts and situations under which these digital expres­sions of place are produced inform the image or check-in and the motivation for location-announcement. For example, we might be able to glean the polysemic interpretations of place by exploring the type of photos taken by different people at a certain place and how people are both creating and harnessing polysemic meanings and social constructions of place to represent themselves to others. Each photo tagged to a venue tells a different story about the individuals who took them, the moments and reasons they were taken, and the meaning of the place.

Social networks

Individual actions in physical places can help characterize and uncover collective geo­graphic patterns of social networks. For example, when users check-in with their friends in a certain location, they send cues to their online audience about the relations between the place and the social network that is attached to it. Studying online cues about geo­graphic contexts of social networks can augment profiles created by urban planners in order to represent different types of interactions between groups, political constituen­cies, demographic populations, tourists, and so on, within public space. An understand­ing of the spatial self can more robustly represent patterns of mobility for different groups of people and what these patterns might signify. For example, the Livehoods project offers a glance into the areas of the city that like-minded people visit (Cranshaw et al., 2012). The project shows how a series of bars, restaurants, parks, or shops may carry a strong connection for a certain group of people who include them in their social media profiles.

A related study that examined the profile pictures of bar patrons in Austin, Texas, illustrated how Foursquare profile photos conveyed information about the character and connotations of specific venue based on impressions about the types of people who fre­quent these venues (Graham and Gosling, 2011). In a more recent work, researchers used geotagged tweets from the city of Los Angeles to understand the relationships between geographic regions and gang territories (Bora et al., 2013). This kind of work can trace homophily in regard to patterns of mobility and collective understandings of place and make patterns of differential mobilities among certain groups more visible. Researchers can gain insight into how certain geopolitical inequalities are experienced and uncover strategies for managing high or low mobility in both physical space and digital environments.

 

Conclusion

Digital expressions of the spatial self might help researchers highlight and understand new performances of self and re-inscriptions of the body in place and space. The digi­tal traces that people produce through location-based social media networks may help inform researchers’ understanding of urban experience and urban mobility, but should be recognized as performed or exhibited “traces” or fragments of larger articulations of physical presence and spatial realities. Geolocated posts, tweets, images, check-ins, and other forms of location-announcement and artifacts of personal mobility are parts of larger narratives and performances of embodiment and experience of place. However, this geolocated information often masquerades as quantitative when, upon closer inspection, it is actually a mix of qualitative and quantitative data and should be treated as such.

GIS, global positioning system (GPS), maps, and digital technologies of navigation and monitoring in general are often connoted as accurate, precise, and are articulated with concepts like surveillance and security rather than performativity and flexibility. As Farman (2010) notes, by conceptualizing maps and cartographic practice as direct, accurate representations of reality and ignoring the subjectivity and social construction of cartographic representations, we also eschew important cultural interpretations of these visualizations. Because an image, text, or artifact is geocoded, it does not mean that it is a representation of objective “reality” or precise location. Instead, because these digital traces are geocoded representations of particular ways of being and repre­senting the world, they require cultural interpretation in order to be unpacked and analyzed.

Moreover, there are privacy concerns (locational privacy and otherwise) that need to be considered when gathering user-generated geolocated data, especially since research­ers and planners are not an intended audience for these expressions, and the isolation and re-circulation of these digital productions was not consented to by participants. While we urge researchers to apply ethical caution in gathering and analyzing these digital traces of mobility and presence, we also urge methodological caution as well. As tools of analy­sis for user-generated geocoded data are still under development, we need to figure out ways to verify user-produced information (or volunteered geographic information), understand the biases in their production, and use these data sets without overestimating what they actually reflect.

In this article, we have provided examples of how researchers can use location-based social media data to draw conclusions about people and places without exaggerating what these digital traces illustrate, practicing apophenia in regard to vast amounts of data (boyd and Crawford, 2011), or mistaking qualitative data for quantitative. To think about Instagram images, Facebook or Foursquare check-ins as representing the places that are “most important” to participants or as the “places that matter” is inaccurate. We need to understand not only the motivations for producing these images and check-ins but also what they mean to the participants and their audiences—how they are being used as a form of self-presentation as well as (re)productive practices of experience and reception of urban space.

Performativity within social media and the expression of place as linked to self-pres­entation within SNS is deserving of further study. We suggest that the spatial self is a lens through which to read some of the texts produced over social media and to understand the biases and limitations of the geographic and temporal precision of this data. We also argue that it is important for researchers to employ both qualitative and quantitative methods for analyzing user-generated geolocated content. Expressions of the spatial self are not always precise in terms of calculating actual mobility or physical presence, but they are precisely calculated, choreographed articulations of space and the self based on identity production and self-expression.

【文章作者】Raz Schwartz, Cornell Tech, USA;

Germaine R Halegoua, The University of Kansas, USA

【文章来源】new media & society 1– 18 © The Author(s) 2014

【文章链接】http://nms.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/04/09/1461444814531364


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