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Authors: Lim Aiwen, Bernadine
Keywords: Critical GIS, Discipline, Geocaching, GIS, Location-based services, Privacy, Surveillance
Issue Date: 2016
Citation: Lim Aiwen, Bernadine (2016). SURVEILLANCE AND GEOCACHING: AN EMPIRICAL CASE OF INGRESS. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Current geographical approaches to geocaching (a recreational activity involving participants physically navigating to pre-determined Global Positioning System coordinates) tend to be in the context of studying Geographic Information Systems’ technological potential as macrostructures. Such approaches gloss over examining the activity and its underlying technologies in terms of social implications. Also lacking are empirical analyses of surveillance in location-based services. This study addresses these gaps by drawing on Crampton’s (2003, 2010a) use of Foucauldian ideas in critical cartography/GIS and Kitchin and Dodge’s concept of Code/space (2005, 2011). Bridging geographic theorizations of technology and GIS with non-geographic approaches to geocaching which focus on individual experience, this study conceptualizes geocaching relationally. Exploring geocaching as a grounded, social and embodied phenomenon, I move beyond technological potentials of geocaching and seek to rectify the lack of empirical works on geocaching experiences of bodies in space. This study focuses on the empirical case of Ingress, a geocaching game lying at the intersection of real-time GIS-based social activity and web-facilitated voluntary participatory cartography. Through in-depth semi-structured interviews, this exploratory study investigates 1) the use of surveillance as a disciplinary technique by both Ingress creators and players and 2) how issues of surveillance and privacy are experienced and negotiated by geocachers on a day-to-day basis. Investigating physical and virtual modes of seeing and being seen through location-based surveillance in Ingress, respondents’ experiences demonstrate location-based surveillance technologies as navigated bodily through various strategies. This research uncovers how surveillant power is (re)appropriated and negotiated, finding that surveillance in Ingress can be disciplinary, and that surveillance can influence both surveillant and surveilled players, thus iteratively (re)configuring power relations through the Ingress Code/space. Through its theoretical and empirical contributions, this study is relevant to broader issues of surveillance through internet technology and location-based services on everyday geographies.
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