Ambient intimacy: a case study of the iPhone, presence, and location-based social networking in Shanghai, China


Hjorth, Larissa; Wilken, Rowan; Gu, Kay


Presence was a key concept in much of the early scholarship on the sociocultural uses of the internet. Drawing on this literature and the work of contemporary theorists of presence, and building on existing scholarship that has explored presence in relation to mobile phones, in this chapter we explore how the introduction of devices such as the iPhone serves to further underscore the continued importance of presence as a crucial concept in an era of smartphones. The ongoing significance of presence in terms of smartphones is amplified with geomedia, whereby the social is overlaid with the geographic and electronic. According to anthropologist Daniel Miller, social media such as Facebook 'suggest further movement towards the smartphone, rather than computer-based integration and convergence.' This chapter takes up these issues by examining presence in the age of the iPhone, perhaps the most iconic of the current breed of smartphones, in relation to the Chinese location-based social (LBS) networking service, Jie Pang. In the LBS mobile game, Jie Pang, users can 'check in' to online spaces they visit and win prizes. However, Jie Pang also allows users to notify friends about their location, and it is this secondary social motivation that we will see play out in this chapter. In order to explore Jie Pang, the chapter traverses four related areas.

Publication year


Publication type

Book chapter


Studying mobile media: cultural technologies, mobile communication, and the iPhone / Larissa Hjorth, Jean Burgess and Ingrid Richardson (eds.), Chapter 4, pp. 43-62


Taylor and Francis




Copyright © 2012 Taylor & Francis.