Here We Are Now (Entertain Us): Location, Mobile, and How Data Tells Storie
Location-based services and context-aware technologies are altering the way we encounter our environments and producing enormous volumes of data about where we go, what we do, and how we live and interact. How are these changes transforming the ways we engage with our physical world, and with each other? What kind of stories does the data produce, and what do they tell us about our culture and social behaviors? What opportunities and perils does this information have for businesses and individuals? What are the implications for brands, audiences, content producers, and media companies?
Moderator: Xiaochang Li (New York University)
Panelists: Germaine Halegoua (University of Kansas), @Alurabrava and Andy Ellwood (Gowalla)
XL: what terms, what criteria do you use with location
AB: we throw the word story around, when clients talk about story, they’re really tallking experiences. It is good to distinguish between them. If it has video, it’s not ness story
AE: smartphones, give location the opp to be more than an idea, or a feature. THey take a powerful piece of tech with them. 80% of people with smartphones have it within 3ft of them at all times…with GPS enabled smartphones, being able to build things on top of it, associate with places etc, it starts to get interesting. Almost all content on phones have some kind of location associated with them
GH: but what does LDS mean..it refers to a lot of different things. SO when thinking about it (for this panel) is this a digitally networked services, perhaps with SocMed, it relies on location to function, also imparts the user some info about location, changes the way they interact with location. Gowalla does it..but so does a map!
AE: when talking about story, through status, video upload etc, it is all story telling in some form. The narrative about your life. It is a narative I am commuicating to my audience. Location allows you to add place to the story, add hte where. So I’m at Starbucks, gets to which location. THere are lot of diff stories, but all about the place…wehter officially an LBS or just incorporates location
AB: is it explicit, or just part of it, about knowing where you are. THere is a rich history of where you are, where you have been and whether you let people know
XL: how does the entertainment enter it..the Here We are Now, how do you tack to present..the relationship of people and spaces etc. how do they interact, does it change how people interact
AE: so with Sony Pictures, with TInTin, Tintin goes on adventures, so him going on places is part ofthe fun, you can bring TinTin with you to places you go. Here’s been to 100 or so counties, all 50 states, people taking TIntin to their town, people taking pictures etc. They watned to get people to think about what adventure they were going on. TinTIn has been wiritng back to them, conversations around narrative of location and the movie.
AB: mobile is personal, you carry around a data feed, allows a sense of awareness in a public space. When you dance you are aware of your body and the space it is in…now the phone allows you to know you are part of a data feed. It is new and fantastic.
GH: when interviewing, about 4square, the idea of a hybrid between layers, of personal and public, visibility and invisibility. When can a virtual friend talk to you in physical worls? lots of tension…When you are a mayor of a place, you are visible to all, a tension of what they thought you could see. They were astonished when someone came up to them and said congratulations about being mayor – so pride and a little creepy. We are still in a public space, having unintended incounters in these psacves, but layered with privacy etc
AE: started with Gowalla last jan, from selling provate jets..very different but it’s about understanding expectations. What expectations of the service do they have. Being in an interative space was interesting. Foursquare and Gowalla launched on same day, and did not know each about each other until 5 days together..they have had different tracks. Gowalla was about using phone as a passport, explore etc, Foursquare about checkin, going to places the most, discounts etc…the currency we all trade in is social validation. When I get likes on Facebook, it says somebody cares. Validation can make you feel a little better. With location, there is some level of truth added to the location, I am for the most part where i say I am, people do not waste social credit on checking in places they are not.
GH: So the foursquare and gowalla launched on same day…when people talk about LBS, people think of Foursquare..so why, and what about your shift.
AE: when we launched…the action of checking in did not exist..most people had no idea what it meant. Foursquare made it simple for you to know that. Gowalla had a stronger product, but they had more things to do, so people were not sure about it. There was confusion. And their Blackberry product worked and ours different. We’re about 2 million now. We focus on exploration and discovery, rather than discounts, deals and places you have been, when pitching to companies, we competed against Foursquare, but they could not do what we do. Airports are the most checked in places. Why – you’re doing something outside normal schedule, you have time to check in..you have social currency..ie I;m travelling you’re in the office. We partner with Disney, with the parks, what it looks like is photo albums on Facebook…Disney does not know a lot about this. Disney wanted a realtime experience around the park. So we created collectible pieces of art, that was shared across their networks
GH: what rewards are there for the users…what is the equivalent of the discount…
AE: it’s your passport, it’s about social validation, So Instagram is my new favourite app. I get likes, get feedback, seeing what people are seeing. Look at my passport, you see where i go, photos etc, people I go with. We have taken away some of the gamification elements, with some success..we look at things that rewards activities that should be done in the first place, rather than trick you into doing stuff. We have turned down money for campaigns, when it was not something we wanted to do, being true to exploration and discovery. We don’t collect stuff as much, we collect experiences and stories and pictures. We went to see Coldplay..and we spent most of the first 3 songs getting the right picture for brother’s Facebook page.
XL: When you take away the shiny game layer, what do people use them to do? what the impications, where are the challenges, how do you design for them?
GH: most of research around Foursquare and most people did not claim the discounts, it was more about play, about getting checkins…using for social interaction with people they knew, ways to tell stories. You gain an intimacy with a place. You had an ownership about a place. A lot of what was being saying, makes me think about what you are doing is about immersive quality, about telling stories, the play is important, not so much the rewards.
AB: they are doing what they have always done, they like to hang out and find ways to validate it and now we are tracking it. touchscreens, apps etc, boost activity as it becomes easily. Gowalla allows me to do what I’m already doing.
AE: people will change behaviour if you let them know why it is good for them to do so. I call it clicktime when I’m on the web…I look for info on web, you can’t make me wait. On a mobile device, there is a lot of other things going on, people are willing to change behaviour, but don’t make them jump through hoops as there value of worthwhile will have high…we push back on bad ideas, just because you can, does not mean you should. Alot of stuff is aobut using what’s there. or what you can make, but not from what should be done. We ask people how they use things, when they come back to us and say ‘it’s hot, can we do it’ we push back. You need to understand how it is used to work out how to work with marketing. We’re less than 3 years old and there’s loads we are still learning everytime we do things.
XL: there’s push back about idea we are collecting stories. What is different about what we can do now, is it different?
AE: defining story is important. I think about it as individuals creating story, sharing that I am here is a piece of a story…the way that peopel consume is faster than what I have done in past. From branding, how does a brand insert itself, through a piece of content, or over a campaign, how I can be involved in it.
AB: as an individual, you can be a star, create a wider audience, through experiences, you can chose to do that in front of a lot of people…there is a breadcrumb trail, a lot of experimentation goes on. But how long will these tricks last, when it stops working people will try something else.
GH: right to push back about it’s constantly a narrative, sometimes it’s about signalling, about information. People talk about checking in as an aspect of identity…someone was saying it is hard to lie…but it is easy, especially in urban locations when there is a density., They use it to manage identity, looking at foodbloggers etc, they use it to match up identities across elements. It’s always about expression, but about relaying information. YOu have to look at how people are using the tools, asking what their motivations, see how it is being used. THere are diverse uses and people are getting used to it. Data is being looked at, stored in ways that did not expect, can lead to pushback
AB: it is a low level commitment to enter the space, all I say is I’m here. It is a very comforatble baseline for a lot of people. Often there is some that very active, others tag along
AE: we break down into people who document everything, or just the important moments. Some do the everyday, or use it to tell people about things like landing safely. Others for superspecial times. Gowalla feeds it back to you in a beautiful way, having a designer as a CEO has its upsides.
AB: what happens these things? Can you get the information? what happens if it goes away?
AE: that’s a great question!
XL: what is the critical data input to make them robust platforms? What can you get out of it?
GH: one thing is when Foursquare put in photos, comments etc, that was really liked. SOme like being able to check in and not having to tell other information. A lot of people use it for self-documentation, they build maps, how they moved. I did not hear too many stories about taking data off.
AB: i rely on other platforms to make these stories of my life. I can’t get it! What happens to it?
AE: People are building visualisations about where you have been, or places you have been, with open APIs. That’s one of the things that is most exciting, what can be built on top of it. People are building in other data, making useful things. What is interesting what people are building, making apps about.
XL: Do you think users are aware of how to use platforms, in the data they are using and sharing?
GH: I found that people who use it more frequently, feel control as they know the system, are familar with privacy settings. When they checked in a lot, they were getting feedback etc, from peers…but they did not think about places where they were checking in. Placves wanted to know more abou thier customers. Sometimes there is adisconnect in needs, so places wanted to see more. Businesses thought it was OK to look at stuff in systems because it was ‘public’, but users wanted more private.
AB: we all have setting fatigue, difficult to pay attention to settings, privacy etc. People are not paying enough attention, clients also don’t know what they are putting people of risk
AE: you need to read the rules. You need to know the defaults. You need to take responsibility to privacy settings…
AB: Facebook is the obvious, how many people think about where photos going.
AE: small businesses are watching stuff, they see who has checked in and often do things. Lufthansa paid attention to who was checking in at terminal, in Berlin, looking up people on social media and rewarding them..they got it all on video YOu have to be smart about it
GH: heard lots of stories like that, form vendors. Guerilla marketing can be a lot more in your face, as they nbow you are there. The majority see such stuff as a violation…the active listening was OK, the response was a violation…once you learn how to listen, what do you do with it?
XL: i agree people need to take their time to learn settings. But there is information that we share beyond the data. Is this just growing pains, about the development of social contracts.
Question: in emerging economies, with smartphone pentration low, are there LVS services etc? What can there be there? What else can people do?
AE: look at the water charities..Water for the People, being talking with them, When they install a well, they leave a device to allow reporting every day – the phone. Now replacing with smartphones to get more info, looking at building pages. CharityWater is looking at these things as well. LBS work because smartphones are prevalent. THe ideas have been there for a while, but not the tech…
AB: I would be curious to talk to people who are doing crisis mapping, that assume they are doing SMS based stuff. What is the action?
XL: Question – will augmented reality become more integrated.
AB: after location, it’s the next most requested thing with the least information behind it. As a content producer, it’s fascinating how things work and are coming together.
AE: is AR the next QR code.Not seen a lot of value in QR codes, nor with AR. AR is cool, but is there enough value with the user?
GH: what were the clients asking about AR..
AB: they want an immersive experience, so layer it on top of something to ‘immerse’
XL: what is the possibility to integrate into fiction storytelling?
AE: we did a project last year, with Alamo drafthouse, Went to citites. Tagged locations in cities that were important to the film. If you checked into, you got tickets
Audience question: What’s next? NFC, geofencing etc, ways to make it easy
AE: we’re waiting for the hardware to make that decision. Look at Japan and NFC and it’s incredible. We will let it play out.
AB: I think mobile wallets, when we feel safe about that.
Question: there’s a whole load of things going on, not just Foursquare or Gowalla. And on or off for location is wrong, there’s a whole load of granularity about what you can share where, the different levels. There’s far more than you are talking about…
AE: there are a lot of things being done, but the things being adopted are different. There is so much starting, but do people want and use is different. I don’t have all the data about everything else..
GH: I agree. But that was the data I had, about what people were using. About what they knew about. There are more aspects about privacy than discussed, far more different levels, about the behaviours around it
AB: Lots of questions about how brands use it, they test and learn…
Question: what about media checkins, like Get Glue, can it be conbined with LBS.
AE: we are not, as most TV watching at a couch, or sports bar.
AB: you see that more in webisdoes, that involve a road trip,
there is a lot of interaction,
Question: What data is telling the stories…how does exploring affected by data put in to the system. Getting people outside of norm?
AE: That is one of our aims, to get people to try things they may not normally do.
GH: are those services designed for a particular group, do they exclude etc..lots of questions and not enough time…it is important to pay attention to