Social media or spatial media

In this week’s podcast I tossed out a term, spatial media, to try to clarify our conversation. The discussion was partially prompted by the V1 article titled “Have Social Media and Mapping Linked with GIS-CAD and Geospatial Technologies?” My take on the article’s title was completely different from the article itself, which brought about, for me at least, the question of what is social media and is it a one size fits all term? I hear social media and I think blogs, podcasts, facebook, twitter…basically a medium for discourse or at least discussion. The article, Frank, and Sue (to some extent) saw it more as a spatial data perspective where we are creating location based content (check-ins, location descriptions, location capture whether active or passive). For me this moves into a different area.

I agree that in our Web 2.0/mobile location world that user generated content, crowd-sourced data, etc are social in nature, but I am not enamored with the idea of referring to them as social media. To that end I threw out the term of spatial media to capture how I see the interaction of our shared locative content. Frank, one upping me, suggested socio-spatial media (the chair of each of our doctoral committees would have been proud for the hyphenation), which makes the social aspect explicit…I feel it is redundant, but that doesn’t mean we won’t use it in a paper someday. As I knew when I said the phrase on the podcast, spatial media is not a new term, but I am surprised that it has not caught on given our penchant for jargon and just as surprised by the fact that the term has more movement in the computer science world than in GIScience.

So there you go. I tossed out a new term, which wasn’t new, and it probably isn’t/wasn’t useful for the conversation we had, but it happens. And I wanted to follow up on the term to contextualize it a bit better than I did in the podcast, not to suggest we should be using a new term, but to point out that it is already out there…and not just a new of a GIS focused media company or a webmap hosting company.


Written by

Jesse is Instructor in Geography and a PhD candidate in Geography focusing on the integration of phenomenology and geospatial technologies to study prehistoric cultural landscape. He is a GIS Professional and Registered Professional Archaeologist and holds an MA in Geography and a BS in Anthropology with a concentration in archaeology.