Geolocation and the affective assembly of the platform economy

Authors: Agnieszka Leszczynski*, Western University
Topics: Economic Geography, Cultural Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: platforms; geolocation; affect; platform economy; digital location
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper engages the pervasive incorporation of digital location data, interfaces, and affordances as a ubiquitous feature of digital platforms by positioning geolocation as a vital assemblant of ‘platform affects’. I theorize platform affects as individual and collective orientations of attunement, predisposition, and/or incentivization towards using, contributing to, and remaining within and returning to platform ecosystems. Informed by the analysis of data collected as part of a qualitative study of the intensifying intersections between the geospatial industry and the platform economy, I draw on select key examples to identify the ways in which geolocation assembles four kinds of ‘platform affects’: i) spatio-temporal affects of hyper/locality and real-timeness; ii) experiential affects, including those of smoothness and attention; iii) affects of connectivity; and iv) affects of emotional investment, including security, trust, and care. Through engaging the intensifying intersections of geolocation with digital platforms and sweeping shifts in digital economies via theories, processes, and orientations of affect and assemblage, this paper provides specificity and explanatory power to not only the “dynamics driving the integration of geographic information into the digital economy” (Alvarez León, 2016: 1), but indeed also the accumulative, expansive, and political-economic dynamics of the platform economy more broadly. Reference: Alevarez León (2016) Property regimes and the commodification of geographic information: An examination of Google Street View. Big Data & Society 3: 1-13.

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