Geomedia is a term I use to describe a new condition affecting both media and cities. This is defined on the one hand by a new spatialization of media in the city, and, on the other, by new protocols and practices for the mediation of urban social relations. Geomedia is my attempt to speak to the tension between the longstanding capacity for media to render us less dependent on place—to produce a level of general dis-placement—and the countervailing capacity of contemporary media to contribute to place-making through embedded and location-aware forms.
Geomedia emerges from intersecting processes of digital convergence in which media become increasingly ubiquitous, location-aware and capable of supporting real time feedback between multiple, widely distributed actors. My focus in the book is the implications of this threshold for the future of public space. Drawing on a range of examples including urban mapping, large-scale public media art and urban screens, I try to understand the new exigencies that frame social encounters in the present. I argue that geomedia offers a complex and ambivalent urban milieu in which new possibilities for relatively informal modes of citizen-based communication, self-organization and collaborative action go hand in hand with the vast extension of data capture mechanisms, most notably those associated with contemporary ‘smart city’ agendas. Ultimately, this presages the need to rethink the terms of the traditional opposition between media and immediacy.
Scott McQuire is Associate Professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne.