Geolocation Storytelling and Narratives

16 Sep

Here’s my idea for a project for this semester. I’m not sure what to call it yet. Any suggestions (for a name) and feedback (for the project itself) would be fantastic. 

This is a multi-platform geolocation application that would tell the stories of a specific demographic of people, namely Asian/Pacific Islander LGBT folks. The purpose would be to share stories, histories, experiences, social activism, and community priorities across national and cultural borders to increase an understanding of the global climate of LGBT activism among the demographically Asian. 

Three levels of content (keeping in mind each level can be expanded to different geographical locations):

  • Historical stories and events
    • Where did historical events take place?
    • Where did community organizations start? Where were their original headquarters?
    • What were some of the stories that came out of these locations?
      • For example, let’s say I’m in the middle of Los Angeles, and I want to explore places that were historically significant to the Asian LGBT community in LA. I can pull up this application on my phone and see that in the next block over was where A/PLG was started, and get a history of the organization, the key members, etc. There may be then a link to a video of a documentary about the individuals who started A/PLG, and other tidbits of information about that time period and that location.
    • The reason I want this to be GPS-based rather than building/corporation/company-based (like Foursquare or Yelp) is because oftentimes organizations used to be in places that aren’t there anymore, or have moved, yet the historical geographical mapping provides a geographically-based historical narrative.
  • Current issues and priorities, and events
    • What are the issues that organizations are currently concentrating on?
      • For example, API Equality LA concentrates on issues of gay marriage and the Fair Education Act (which has since been dropped)
      • What is the scope of the current issues of each community or culture? Do they care about the global aspect of LGBT issues? Do they care to know about what is going on outside of their community or nation?
    • Past and upcoming events related to these movements may be mapped out, creating a visualization of activism locally or globally. These would likely be uploaded by organizations themselves, or moderators who are connected with these organizations.
    • Resources for LGBT individuals in different locations and countries
  • Individual stories
    • People can upload pictures, videos, audio, texts, links, etc to certain locations that tell of their own stories. This is the more social-networking/foursquare bit.
    • Ethnographic filmmaking/oral interviews etc

Current connections:

  • API Equality LA (Los Angeles)
    • API Equality LA has instigated the Pioneers Documentation Project which captures the stories of Asian American LGBT activists who were involved in the LGBT and Asian American civil rights movements in the 60s and 70s, and started organizations like A/PLG (Asian/Pacific Lesbians and Gays).
    • They are still looking for a platform by which to distribute this information.
  • Barangay LA (Los Angeles)
    • Filipino LGBT organization based in Los Angeles. Has expressed an interest in this project.
  • Koreans United for Equality (Los Angeles)
  • Pink Dot (Singapore)
    • Made initial contact, but no solid connections yet
  • Website
    • Chinese language site for LGBT resources in Chinese-speaking areas, most in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Asia
    • The webmaster is amenable to us improving upon the site, incorporating it into this project. This site could potentially be a great resource 
  • I also have a few leads in Hong Kong, Japan, China, the Philippines, and Indonesia that I will have to explore.

How to proceed:

It seems to make sense starting out locally in Los Angeles, as this model is likely easily translatable on a global scale. Ultimately, I’d like to map out stories of organizations and people on a global level, concentrated to the Asian diasporic networks, but possibly extending outside of that scope. The purpose of this is to create a portal by which people can understand what is going on with LGBT individuals across the Pacific, either in their country of origin (as it pertains to those of us in the US) or in diasporic locations (for those who are in Asia and wondering about their “people” outside their place of origin). This, of course, also assumes an exploration of alternate citizenship extending beyond nation-state borders predicated on identifying as LGBT or whatever the way of identifying is in their country. For purposes of productivity, I will probably be using the identity definitions and understandings used in the US.

My next steps:

Figure out what’s already out there in terms of applications that use geolocation and storytelling or narratives.

Investment for this project is very low. The value of this application lies not with the people who use it (like many social networking sites), but rather the content that is provided, which will be obtained in conjunction with the community organizations involved. The purpose here really is to get stories out there, to make sure there is an avenue through which these stories can be told, and these histories and narratives can be preserved.

The technical stuff:

We will likely look for a code that has already been made in terms of geolocation and mapping, and tweak it to serve the purposes of this project.

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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


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