I will be presenting a new part of my work at the upcoming Theorizing the Web conference that will take place on Saturday, April 9th at College Park. If you will be around the area, you are more than welcome to join me (and three other super interesting panelists) to talk about Augmented Reality. Otherwise you can follow the conference with the hashtag #ttt2011

Read my paper abstract after the break

@IAmAru: “I feel like I’m betraying my @foursquare mayorship by going to the other Starbucks.

For @IAmAru, being the mayor of a specific Starbucks carries special meanings. Although all other Starbucks have the same décor, same menu and same background music, he continuously chooses to go to this particular one just to maintain his virtual Mayor title. But @IAmAru emotional tweet is hardly a rare example; it portrays a growing tendency in which location-based services users interact with the physical places they visit. What are the elements, therefore, that virtually connect someone to a certain physical place? Why do people feel an intimate attachment to a specific place after using these applications? And how do location-based services promote users to virtually chronicle their everyday endeavors?

Drawing on an interdisciplinary theoretical concept called ‘Place Attachment’ that was conceived during the late 1980s, following by an analysis of twenty interviews I conducted with users, I examine how the use of location-based services such as Foursquare, SCVNGR etc. establishes a personalized relation to a physical place. By applying the ‘Place Attachment’ theoretical framework to the study of location-based technology, I offer a new lens through which we can articulate the implications these services have over local connections between people and places.

The term ‘Place Attachment’ represents an interdisciplinary research field originating from different studies in anthropology, architecture, family and consumer studies, folklore, psychology, sociology and urban planning. It is the symbolic relationship created by people who give culturally shared emotional meanings to a particular place that provides the basis for the individual’s and group’s understanding of and relation to their surroundings. Thus, place attachment is more than an emotional and cognitive experience, it also includes cultural beliefs and actions that link people to place.

Studying emerging virtual-local relationships of people and places in light of concepts of ‘Place Attachment’ enables us to better understand users actions, and explore how, in turn, these practices strengthen users connection to a physical place, promote the assimilation and participation of users in their local community, enhance relations with other users and fortify the existence of a virtual-local identity.