Dr Didem Özkul McGeoch

Lecturer in Media Communications

London College of Communication

Biography

Dr. Didem Özkul McGeoch is a Lecturer in Media Communications and teaches for BA (Hons) Media Communications and MA Media, Communications and Critical Practice at LCC. Before joining LCC, she worked as a visiting lecturer (University of Westminster and University of Brighton), as a research fellow for the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded research project, Digital engagements: Online exclusion and social capital, and as a research associate for an AHRC funded research network, Community-powered digital transformations at the University of Westminster.

Didem holds a PhD from the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) at the University of Westminster. Her PhD research focused on mobile media and different aspects of place-making in everyday life through the use of mobile communication technologies and location-awareness. Employing creative visual methodologies in order to explore and visualise transformations in the perception of urban space, her research offers an analysis of the relationships between the use of place-specific information on mobile communication technologies and different aspects of place-making and self-presentation in urban spaces.

Currently she is working on the political economy of mobile media, focusing on the economic and societal dynamics behind the production, ownership and control of location data. 

Research interests

Mobile communication and media, location-awareness, location-based services, mobile apps, mobile app development and design, mobile methods, digital ethnography, memory and meaning-making, space and place, sense of place, place-making, digital media and nostalgia, political economy of mobile media, creative research methods.

Research statement

Today, our online (and mobile) interactions have started to heavily rely on our physical location such as finding nearby restaurants with good reviews (e.g. Yelp), meeting with people who are nearby and who share similar interests (e.g. Foursquare), or navigating in a city and getting directions to specific places (e.g. Google Maps). It is predicted that by 2017 almost 48% of mobile subscribers in the UK will be using location-based services (LBS) on their mobile phones[1]. The LBS providers aggregate and use users’ location data in order to target local businesses and sell them advertising space, or offer them user-analytics based on location in order to increase the foot traffic. On the other hand, various mobile applications (apps) aggregate location data of their users even if this data is  not crucial for their apps. This corporate “the more data we collect, the valuable we become” mentality has led to the marketing and sale of user location data and has given rise to many questions regarding the production, ownership and control, and ethics of using location data for commercial purposes. Existing research on LBS in the field of media and communications focus on the cultural analysis of location data use, which excluded a critical approach to commercial uses of location data, their societal impacts, and an engagement with the stakeholders – a gap in the existing literature, which I aim to fill through this research.

My current research project provides a critical analysis of turning mobile communication technology users’ location data into marketable products (i.e. commodification) through LBS and their commercial uses. It also sheds light on the societal and economic impacts of commodification of location data, focusing on the potential benefits and risks of commercial uses of location data such as exploitation of online-sharing of information, exercising and distribution of power, concerns for privacy, and data protection.

Situated around the discussions of using location data as part of daily online interactions, my research focuses on the (a) production and consumption of location data as a marketable product, and how LBS industry economically benefits from disclosure of location data by users, (b) commercial uses of location data and associated business models with such uses, (c) ownership and control of user location data, and (d) their societal and economic impacts.



[1] Percentage of mobile subscribers in selected European countries using location-based services in 2014 and 2017, available at http://www.statista.com/statistics/294314/share-of-mobile-subscribers-using-location-based-services/

Selected research outputs