Accepted Paper:

Horizonal phenomena: technological mediations of geocaching experience  
Alessandra Prunotto (Clear Horizon)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how technologies 'indirectly' mediate engagements with the world through geocaching, a locative digital game. It suggests that embodied interactions with technologies may create the conditions for indirect mediation.

Paper long abstract:

For those who have access to them, locative digital technologies are becoming pervasive in everyday life. It is therefore important to understand the processes by which such technologies shape how people engage with the world. Using a postphenomenological approach, this paper examines these processes in the context of geocaching, a locative digital game where players use a GPS-enabled device to find small containers hidden in public spaces by other players. In particular, I focus on how technologies 'indirectly' mediate how geocachers engage with the world; that is, how technologies might shape experience even when they are not simultaneously co-present with humans. Interpreting data collected in metropolitan Melbourne, I discuss how indirect technological mediations shape a geocaching world and a geocaching subjectivity. Firstly, I argue that 'directly' mediated social relations shape the parts of the landscape that geocachers engage with and give rise to a shared mode of interpreting that landscape. Secondly, I argue that differentiated access to digital information creates a divide between the worlds of geocachers and non-geocachers, compelling geocachers to employ distinctive modes of interacting with and being in the landscape while playing the game. My findings suggest that embodied interactions with technologies may create the conditions for the indirect mediating effects of technologies, but that we require further investigation to better understand the intricacies of indirect mediation. Hence, this paper not only develops a relatively under-theorised aspect of technological mediation, but also enriches understandings of geocaching and experiences of public space more generally.

Panel P05
ANSA postgraduate panel