According to Dutch tech lifestyle site Bright (in Dutch only), one of the world’s largest beer brewer Heineken (#4 says Wikipedia.org) has stepped into locative platform Bliin for their newest marketing campaign. Heineken truckers who deliver beer to their customers can be followed live on the map via the Bliin website. People playing this game may win prizes if they can predict where the delivery men will go for their next stop.
Bliin is a locative platform. Bliin enables users to take geo-annotated pictures with their mobile phone cam and share these experiences with others via the internet (“geotagging”). Bliin also makes it possible to locate people and their preferences, and trace users movements live on the map (“social proximity”). Registered users install a small Java program on their mobile device. They need a GPS receiver, either integrated into the phone or standalone (e.g. via bluetooth). Their position is sent to the Bliin server in realtime over an always-on data connection. Users can capture photos with their mobile phone camera (in the future also audio, video and text) and attach description and tags. When users publish the photo, GPS coordinates are automatically attached. It appears as a geographically positioned photo on the Bliin web interface, based on Google Maps.
First of all, I find it interesting that big companies are now stepping into the ‘locative thing’ as a new way to reach (young?) customers. The question is what happens when routes and experiences of place become play-like, as happens in this game? Do our spatial perceptions and social relations change when we learn to understand movement as a trace on a bird-eye view map, when we learn that every place is already pre-inscribed by other people’s geo-annnotations, when social proximity is mediated by mobile technologies? These are some of the questions we’ll address at The Mobile City.