Cosimo Accoto: Social Mobile and the new horizons of Internet

New space for Internet: mobile technology opens new horizons.

Cosimo Accoto has gained his expertise in the field of audience measurement industry with leading international companies and contexts.

He is the author of “Measuring the audience on the Internet”, co-author with Andreina Mandelli of “Brand and metrics in social media” and “Social Mobile Marketing“. He is keynote speaker in the major conferences about digital measurement, analytics and intelligence (IAB Seminar, WAS Web Analytics Strategies) and in the events organized by various business schools (SDA Bocconi, USI Università della Svizzera Italiana).

To a professional of audience analysis in the social and mobile field like him, attentive to the evolutions of contemporary digital thinking, we asked for an analysis of the scenarios that Mobile is defining.

Some important concepts emerged, as transducted space, net locality and co-proximity: issues to keep in mind if you want to understand the new horizons of the marketplace defined by social mobile communication.

There’s new “space” for Internet

This was discussed recently at Where 2.0 The Business of Location, O’Reilly’s annual conference about services and location-based applications (San Francisco, 2 -4 April). The interest of the markets and the business community for the technologies of mobile communication, georeferencing and context-aware computing is growing exponentially.

Today, the concept of mobility is gradually replacing the metaphor of virtuality as the dominant theme of the speeches about the web. In this perspective, brands, marketers and advertisers are experimenting and exploring new opportunities and business models related to space and mobility.

Perhaps there’s still a lack of full strategic awareness of the nature and impact of innovation of the new relationships between spatiality, mobility/proximity technologies and digitality. In this contribution my focus will be then on the relationships between space, digitality and new mobilities considering the most advanced contemporary digital thinking.

Space Transduction

Analysts and marketers are discussing more and more about a ”fusion” between offline and online. It is, however, a way of saying that prevents a full understanding of the emerging relationship between digitality and spatiality.

The most advanced contemporary geographical thought (eg. Dodge and Kitchin) talks, however, about space transduction to indicate how the physical and relational environment in which we are immersed is produced, continuously and automatically, by the software code that is embedded in objects, architectures and processes.

Today the software “produces” the space, it moves and activates (or deactivates) it, changing consumer practices and social relations when it is engaged in the environments and when it is delivered to mobile devices like smartphones and tablet connected to the web.

Sensory-inscribed Body

So far the issues of space, geography, proximity and corporeality were excluded from digital marketing (what was happening before and after online was considered separately); now the digitality incorporated in our smartphones has transformed them into “cognitive interfaces”, devices able to perceive the external environment, the local position and the physical state of the user. It is not just about mobile communication.

We are experimenting – as written by Farman – a sensory-inscribed body able to read in new ways the world in which we act every day. On closer inspection, with georeferencing systems, location-aware technologies, sensors and audio-video recognition
software, the space where we are located begins to determine what information we access through the networks of sensor distributed at home, in the architecture and in the cities.

Mobile Annotation

Thus, while the stationary Internet (the one of our desktop PC, at a fixed location) binds us to see the web as a synthethic, virtual environment detached from reality and that requires a representation of the world reproduced on the screens, the mobile Internet completely breaks this perspective.

In fact, when we use a smartphone we are active and immersed in spaces, places and daily activities evolving in real time. We don’t “go on the Internet”, but we are inside of it. For example, the map applications we use with our smartphones are no longer “mimetic” representations of reality, but constitute navigational activities which make us act in an annotated area also thanks to mobile augmented reality.

Net Locality

The more attractive idea that the researches and theorists are studying (and that markets and brands are experimenting) is that the ubiquity of information in the web is being crossed more and more with the new practices of the portability of the social networks in mobility. Gordon, de Souza and Silva defined it as ”net localities“.

It is no longer only the capacity of our smartphones to make our personality “portable”. With the mobile use of social networks and the location sharing applications we are experiencing: a) the continuous portability of our social graphs and networks in our daily activities of communication, shopping, entertainment; b) the co-proximity: not just simply being present in a place but, above all, be informed and aware of the proximity to that place of friends and contacts who have chosen to socialize and share their location (spatial network).

As one can easily imagine, this is just the beginning of a sensational mobile revolution among social networks, sensor networks and spatial networks. A revolution that is going to destroy established logics and markets, increasingly obsolete. Our present is full of opportunities but also risks (primarily, privacy). If this is true, it’s now the time to know how to strategically analyze and manage the “collapse of contexts” (space, time and sociability) – as defined by Danah Boyd , the social networks anthropologist – that the intersection of mobile media and social media is producing today.

Cosimo Accoto


Twitter @CosimoAccoto


To learn more please see those books:

Kitchin R. e Dodge M. (2011) Code/Space. Software and Everyday Life

Farman J. (2011) Mobile Interface Theory. Embodied Space and Locative Media

Gordon E. e de Souza e Silva A. (2011) Net Locality. Why Location Matter in a Networked World