The increasing ubiquity of location and context-aware mobile devices and applications, geographic information systems (GIS) and sophisticated 3D representations of the physical world accessible by lay users is enabling more people to use and manipulate information relevant to their current surroundings (Scharl & Tochtermann, 2007). The relationship between users, their current geographic location and their devices are summarised by the term “mobile spatial interaction” (MSI), and stands for the emerging opportunities and affordances that location sensitive and Internet capable devices provide to its users. The first major academic event which coined the term in its current usage was a workshop on MSI (see http://msi.ftw.at/) at the CHI 2007 (Fröhlich et al., 2007). Mobile spatial interaction is grounded in a number of technologies that recently started to converge. First, the development of mobile networks and mobile Internet technologies enables people to request and exchange specific information from anywhere at anytime. Using their handheld devices people can, for example, check the latest news, request recent stock exchange values or communicate via mobile instant messaging. The second enabler is global positioning technology. Mobile devices with integrated Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers—soon to be joined by the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) and the European Galileo system—are aware of their current latitude and longitude coordinates and can use this data as value added information for context-aware services, that is, mobile applications that refer to information relevant to the current location of the user. A possible use scenario for such an information request would be, for example, “find all clubs and pubs in a radius of 500 meters from my current position.” The focus of this work is to enrich the opportunities given by such location aware services with selected Web 2.0 design paradigms (Beer & Burrows, 2007; Kolbitsch & Maurer, 2006) toward mobile social networking services that are bound to specific physical places. User participation, folksonomy and geotagging are three design methods that have become popular in Web 2.0 community-platforms and proven to be effective information management tools for various domains (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007; Courtney, 2007; Macgregor & McCulloch, 2006). Applying such a design approach for a mobile information system creates a new experience of collaboration between mobile users, a step toward what Jaokar refers to as the Mobile Web 2.0 (Jaokar & Fish, 2006), that is, a chance for mediated social navigation in physical spaces.
Applications based on mobile spatial interaction can be classified into four different categories (Fröhlich et al., 2007): 1) Systems that facilitate navigation and wayfinding in geographic places: This category is, for example, represented by car navigation systems that assist the driver, for example, with interactive maps, arrows or spoken instructions providing directions to the address of destination (Baus, Krüger, & Wahlster, 2002; Kray, Elting, Laakso, & Coors, 2003); 2) Mobile augmented reality applications such as the head-mounted display (HMD) of virtual information added to objects in the physical world, (Bruce, Piekarski, Hepworth, Gunther, & Demczuk, 1998; Piekarski & Bruce, 2002); 3) Applications creating; or 4) providing access to information that is attached to physical places or objects: For such applications, geotagging, a method to attach latitude and longitude identifiers, enables information resources such as text, pictures or videos to be put into a specific geographic context (Torniai, Battle, & Cayzer, 2005).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Context-aware Mobile Devices and Applications: Applications that react or provide information based on the user’s context. The context is defined by a vector of selected data, for example, representing his/her current geographic location, emotional state, physical conditions (e.g. light, noise) or other variables that describe the user’s current situation. Devices that run context-aware applications are usually equipped with sensors to perceive the environment or make assumptions via intelligent algorithms.
Mobile Web 2.0: The suite of systems and mobile devices which either run existing Web 2.0 applications or re-appropriate according characteristics (tagging, user participation, mash-ups, personalisation, recommendations, social networking, collective intelligence, etc.) for the specific context of mobile use and mobile devices.
Geotagging: An approach which adds latitude and longitude identifiers as metadata to online content. It enables people to embed their information resources such as text, pictures or videos in a specific spatial and semantic context to augment the physical world with virtual information. Such a mediated social environment can help people navigate physical spaces by using location aware mobile devices.
Global Positioning System (GPS): A set of earth orbit satellites transmit microwave signals which can be received with so-called GPS-receivers. By comparing the timestamps of signals from different satellites, GPS-receivers can determine their geographic location. Each position can be described by a set of latitude and longitude coordinates.
Mobile Social Navigation: The process of guiding activities aimed at determining our position and planning and following a specific route based on what other people have done or what other people have recommended doing, using mobile devices. First introduced by Dourish and Chalmers (1994) , they describe social navigation as “moving toward a cluster of other people, or selecting objects because others have been examining them.”
Local Folksonomies: In the context of the Web 2.0 discussion, a folksonomy (sometimes also known as a “tag cloud”) is a user-generated taxonomy made up of key terms that describe online content. By assigning these freestyle keywords or so-called “tags,” the semantics of various information resources can be described in a more flexible, decentralised, collaborative and participatory way than fixed categories allow for. The term has been coined by Thomas Vander Wal.
Local Knowledge: Knowledge, or even knowing, is the justified belief that something is true. Knowledge is thus different from opinion. Local knowledge refers to facts and information acquired by a person which are relevant to a specific locale or have been elicited from a place-based context. It can also include specific skills or experiences made in a particular location. In this regard, local knowledge can be tacitly held, that is, knowledge we draw upon to perform and act but we may not be able to easily and explicitly articulate it: “We can know things, and important things, that we cannot tell” ( Polanyi, 1966 ).