Building a Theoretical Foundation for Prafix

Building a Theoretical Foundation for Prafix

I believe that there is a need to apply elements of Psychogeography and Phenomenology to make sense of spatial communication in the 21st century.  In building a curriculum, I often turn to these two studies to adapt their rich meaning in order to inspire a philosophical foundation to guide Prafix forward.  There is a role for elements of both of these schools of thought to be reinterpreted and applied to understanding geosocial and geomarketing datasets.

Ten years ago, before I becoming familiar with Guy Debord and Martin Heidegger in spatial context, I thought that there was a geographic relationship to how communication mediums could evoke cognitive change.  I imagined a map of dots, color coordinated and thematically shaded to visualize a given idea or identity.  Those points were fixed in a place, but there color could change over time depending on what influenced them.  Fast forward ten years and mobile computing technology could make it possible to allow these static points to roam freely as they social media savvy mobile phone users transcend physical geography.

Although it seems highly theoretical, most big data companies are selling this same exact idea to giant corporations.  What could be more valuable than point level data on your clients or potential customers?  I would argue that socioeconomic models that could predict socioeconomic consumer behavior could potentially be more valuable than the point level data itself.

I am interested in how technology can be used to help us better understand how space is perceived via communication platforms.  Social Media allows us to geocode our thoughts, essentially associating a thought bubble with a given terrestrial X, Y coordinate.  We could tell a more profound story by mapping out how those georeferenced thought bubbles evolved through space and time.

There is no shortage of geosocial or geomarketing solutions being made.  However, I believe with more theoretical discourse we can ensure that our developments are being made with a conscience.

Thanks a ton,


Adding Value to Mobile Game Development by Collecting Geospatial Data

Using Geospatial Technology to Enhance Mobile Phone Gaming

There’s been a surge in company’s building development kits, free of charge, to empower a user base to create on their behalf. One such company is Game Salad. They’re a hip little social gaming company with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Austin, TX.

Game Salad takes a totally unique approach to gaming. They are the providers of the back end video game designer and essentially crowd source content by giving away their tool kit free of charge. Game Salad has a unique way of capitalizing on their “gratis” intentions by serving in game ads to gamers, whom have downloaded a game created in the Game Salad environment.

Being a huge fan of film culture, I am really impressed with how Game Salad’s development kit was used by the Alamo Drafthouse to promote “Hobo with a Shotgun” with a mobile iOS game. There’s no denying that gaming is a great way for company’s to interact with their potential customers. However, gaming on mobile phones can open several new opportunities for businesses to leverage.

Game Salad is able to provide their tools for free due to monetizing on creators using their development kit to build a video game. This monetization is delivered through in game advertising. Currently it is widely recognized that Google is the leader of internet and mobile marketing, but there are a couple intelligent things that Game Salad can do to increase the effectiveness of their in game advertising. By introducing geography as an essential ingredient within their marketing algorithm, Game Salad could create higher conversion rates for their advertisers.

Adding Value to Mobile Game Development by Collecting Geospatial Data

Location doesn’t seem to be an integral part to Game Salad’s mobile marketing approach. By introducing location intelligence, Game Salad could open up conversations with company’s that are able to attract local businesses to advertise on their gaming network. Geospatial intelligence could be used by Game Salad to provide more personalized marketing messages to their gaming community.

For instance, imagine Game Salad knew that “Hobo with a Shotgun” was played most frequently within a mile of a sub shop between the hours of 11 and 1 on a particular intersection in a city. By collecting and visualizing this data, Game Salad could communicate this information to the sub shop. Game Salad could also add value to the conversation by informing the sub shop of ways that their marketing message could be fine tuned so as to be as relevant as possible to the sub shop’s potential customers. I would be interested in taking action, if I were to see a coupon displayed to me for my local sub shop while playing “Hobo with a Shotgun”.

When you take the above example and think in terms of Game Salads’ entire game archives, there becomes huge potential to collect data across several socioeconomic indices in order to collect a dynamic data set. This data could be even more powerful if it were to be informed by geographic analysis pulled from tools that already exist on most smart phones. There are several companies that already offer this level of Spatial Information Technology intelligence, but it seems as though some companies are taking their time in realizing the value added to their product by integrating it within their marketing algorithms.

My recommendation to Game Salad, and large data aggregation companies across the information technology industry, is to correlate functions used with your smart phone applications to a place in space. This location data doesn’t need to be limited to just points, because polylines and line segments have a place in analysis in order to differentiate between different types of traffic. Building a mass data management tool that is capable of parsing smart phone users that are stationary versus those that are riding in an automobile is pivotal in understanding how your users are utilizing their space. This is important to companies like Game Salad because it can help them determine users that are playing a game in bed from those that are traveling in an automobile. Over time, this data can tell Game Salad more about the places where their games are being played, which in turn helps Game Salad communicate their potential advertising clients about their marketing. This could ultimately help Game Salad add value to their customers, both purchasing advertising and developing video games.

Knowing how people transcend space, while using your mobile application, is a means of quantifying the psychogeographical perception of a given space. Knowing how use your application while being a given location creates rich data for developers to improve on and advance their advertising design so as to seamless and relevant with the reality that surrounds smart phone gamers.

Here’s a link to get started with the Game Salad development kit.

Here’s a link to read more on the “Hobo with a Shotgun” mobile application from Wired Magazine.

Feel free to reply with ways you’d add value to companies like Game Salad in the comment sections.

Thanks a ton,

How does Geography inform Location Based Applications?

Geography and Location Based Applications

This article is the fourth and final part of a 4 part series on Geography’s Role in Online Internet Marketing.

How does Geography inform Location Based Applications?

Geography is a central function to a Location Based application. There are several mobile applications that require a user’s location prior to providing search results. These applications are great for gathering information on a customers commercial tendencies, but rely on a customer to opt-in to having their physical location captured.

Often times Location Based applications, such as FourSquare and Yelp!, do not actively solicit a customer to use their application and rely on the user’s interaction. They encourage users to share their location by awarding game-like achievements for frequenting a given place. They also rely on local businesses ( or Franchises ) to award coupons and discounts for check-in’s. This is advantageous as often times users have their location distributed to their social media profiles, which creates a ripple effect that could potentially be used to market a business’ products or services to a user’s internet friend base.

One disadvantage to location based applications is that their geodata tends to be fixed in a certain place. Much like physical billboards seen decorating a given street, business profiles are linked to a specified space. These spaces tend to be points composed of point data, relying on a Longitude and Latitude value and do not travel too well. This causes an issue for businesses that are mobile, such as food trucks and vendors at a farmer’s market. Most location based applications will not allow you to check-in with a given business if your location is further than a specified distance from the business’ point location.

Another geographical disadvantage to location based application is reporting. There isn’t a clean way to report on where customers are looking for a given destination. For instance, if a user is looking for a Belgian bar on a particular cross street, or if they were looking for a florist next to their work, there isn’t a way of capturing that data and exposing that back to the community. Imagine how useful this information would be to an economic development agency or a business improvement district.

Thanks a ton,

How does Geography inform Search Engine Optimization?

Geography and Search Engine Optimization

This article is the second part of a 4 part series on how Geography’s Roles in Online Internet Marketing.

Search Engine Optimization is an internet marketing tool that businesses use to promote their website content.  A good SEO strategy involves all facets of a website and mixed forms of media, including rich images and videos.  However, text is the most important part to an SEO campaign.  This is due to how optimization relies on two things – search engines and websites with business content.  Search engines, such as Google and Bing!, use algorithms behind the scenes in order to provide you with the most accurate and relevant results based on your query.

How does Geography inform Search Engine Optimization?

Associating keywords with content is central to an SEO campaign.  Often times internet marketers rely on geographical references, such as a city or neighborhood, to ensure that their website ranks high among a given search result.  This is one form of geographies influence on internet marketing, but doesn’t necessarily include any sort of spatial data as to where the customer physically conducted their search from.

Sure, SEO could be used to measure the amount of times a given geographical keyword was referenced in order to bring traffic to a given website.  However, this relies on a potential customer to project their spatial identity into the search box.   This is to say, that a customer needs to think of themselves as a person in a place in order to refine their search results.  The issue here is that there are multiple cities, towns and neighborhoods that could make up a media market.

Ultimately the big advantage of internet marketing is the fragmentation of audiences.  Not just their fragmentation in taste, but their fragmentation in space.  This allows marketers to fine tune a message to a particular neighborhood, but relies on these messages being crafted in a manner that are relevant to a given place’s identity.

Thanks a ton,