Archive for the ‘mobility’ Category

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April 20, 2010

I actually didn’t mind Clara Völker’s Mobile Media and Space reading this week. In fact I think it was a better take on the subject of Space than Shaun Moores’ Doubling of Space.  A really good reading to go with it is Railroad Space and Railroad Time by Schivelbusch.  The use of the railroad is a great metaphor for what technology does to space – it diminishes it and expands it.  He says that the speed of the train eliminates the space between two points but at the same time creates more space as we are now able to travel further than before. It’s here that we turn back to Völker where Space is created by acting on given places and it’s the technology once again (like the train) that enables us to act upon previously untouchable places.

Then there comes the argument of whether all this expansion is endangering reality.  I quite liked McLuhan’s way of putting it – technology being an extension of our nervous system.  Mobile Media has made us more aware; the virtual space created adds a layer of depth to our physical world rather than replacing it.  Volker’s talk of Semapedia and Socialight seem hard to envision but take a look at Foursquare

Heres a little video interview with the creator:

You can see a usefulness to it, its like social networking meets a zeiget guide meets someone trendy who has been living in a big tourist city but know all the secret local spots.  Or more simply put “Social space being localised in between physical space and mental space.” It’s not just the development of foursquare that depicts an overlay of spaces; most of our virtual space is anchored in the physical world in the symbols and language we use.  Think when using email CC means carbon copy and an envelope is still the symbol used for mail.  We aren’t replacing the physical we are simply “translating it into another medium” and then constantly updating and adding information.


Mobile technology: gaoler or prisoner?

April 20, 2010

After perusing this weeks readings i have surmised that we as generation Y are either the forefathers, (excuse old-fashioned sexism, foreparents) of technology or the harbingers of doom. I found it intriguing that many of us asked “when will technology go too far” and indeed Clara Volker’s article “Mobile Media and Space” rigidly looks into the future of what may be for mobile technology. I for one, prefer to take a somewhat futile opinion that technology has already gone too far, in that it is rather pointless for me to know what Kim Kardashian and Ashton Kutcher will have for their social media breakfasts (although the shameless today show plug did little to quell my enthusiasm. Nonetheless, the developing age we live in the one already gaining social etiquettes, as described by Mizuko Ito, is fascinating as the old adage goes, if you can’t beat em’, join em’.

I found Volkers article to be quite conceptual as opposed to Ito’s more pragmatic study much like our own media diaries (why didn’t i ask any Japanese!!?!?!?!). Volker here analyses the connection we are increasingly shortening between what we perceive as being ‘home’ versus being generally ‘out’. However i think (feel free to argue) that Volker is not so much trying to say that the gap is being bridged but rather we are creating our own separate entities, or ‘spaces’. This ‘space’ therefore becomes an alternate reality if it is taken on by enough people, even so in a purely theoretical one (and who’s to say that our own perceived reality isn’t just as theoretical? It’s like one of those ‘if a tree falls in the woods and no-one is there to hear it…’ scenarios).

To quote a quote, Volkers refers to William Gibson’s determined or defining of what we now appreciate as ‘cyberspace’:

“Gibson refers to cyberspace as a reality into which humans can immerse themselves, a hybrid cybernetic space, ‘a consensual hallucination’ of ‘unthinkable complexity’, a graphic representation that exceeds the represented ‘nonspace of the mind’, as opposed to ‘Meatspace’.”

What we know take for granted as ‘cyberspace’ was once a scholarly and theoretical study into the digital reality matching the physical one. And whilst i quite humourously agree that humanity’s “tweeting” is as Gibson describes, a “nonspace of the mind”, Volkers’ reference to him raises the question as to how closely can a digital space or reality, emulate a physical one? To this Volkers answers:

“Hence, space is actualised and modified through mobility.”

Mizuko Ito’s article was one that i found altogether as interesting as it was confronting; not in the sense that it shocked me but rather that my seemingly normal patterns were being analysed in a way that treated them as anomalies – quite a strange feeling indeed. I found his views from his research were ones that by this time have bridged the east-west divide and translated into our very own culture, with myself being namely responsible for at least a few. However the point i found perhaps most interesting is the title of this blog: is this mobile technology enslaving us to ourselves, or being enslaved for our benefit? I for one believe we are becoming addicted to need, to efficiency, to easiness and perhaps most of all, convenience. And far from preaching i would point the finger at myself in too needing the nicotine patches for my fix of convenience when convenience isn’t warranted.

To summarise, Volker’s article taught us the creation and development of new ‘spaces’ by mobile technology, rather than merging old ones; whilst Ito’s piece analysed the social functions we are creating through this rapidly dynamic technology. I for one, argue that technology has gone too far, in that we are now so bombarded with convenience our communications have lost importance, familiarity and most of all emotion.

But that’s just me and look forward to your opinions!

Technology Out-Smarting Us all

April 19, 2010

Since I can remember phone technology has been rapidly changing and evolving. I still remember being very young, sitting in my car seat as my dad answered his car phone to talk to his employees, my mom, or whoever. At the time I assumed this was normal- just like a phone at a house, but really car phones were the first huge step towards being able to communicate while moving from place to place- and the phenomenon has continued ever since. It is remarkable how far mobile technology has come over the years. From car phones to beepers and pagers to mobile phones to a new bread of mobile phone that really deserves a different name, we have come a long way with our mobile technology over the years.

There is no way to compare the original mobile phone in which you could barely make calls to what I think of as the second generation- where you could text and even take pictures on color screens! And now, what seems to be the third generation is this hybrid product in which depending on what you want to do with it your mobile can have cameras, video cameras, touch screens, music players, internet, gps tracking, really whatever you can imagine is on there. I found this video to be very amusing- sorry if it offends at all but it is a good reminder of how far we have come over the past 15 years and really humorous towards the new technologies and how they seem to take over.

Clara Volker brings up some really interesting points in the article Mobile Media and Space in which she argues that virtual space (computers, the internet etc) is colliding with reality. Through her examples of Semapedia and Socialight, it is obvious that there is no way to separate these to spaces from one another. Virtual space impedes on every aspect of our lives and it is only going to continue to do so in the future. Technology is only getting smarter- almost to the extent that it is a little scary. At times I definitely feel out-smarted by the technology I use. The fact that you can GPS track the location of your friends (or parents and track their kids!) or hold your phone up to the radio to get the title and artist of a song is great in theory- but it leads one to wonder when will technology take it too far.

Technology is changing the way we view spaces and bringing multiple spaces together. We cannot simply separate virtual space and reality anymore. Rather our increased mobility in terms of technology has allowed us to merge our spaces- breaking boundaries such as public and private, and redefining typical definitions of what it means to be mobile.

Into The “Mobile” Wild

April 17, 2010

The mobile phone: friend or foe? This highly sought after answer highlights the ambiguous nature that the mobile phone represents to us as a society. Is it intrusive? Does it allow surveillance? Does it intrude our public space and open up our private? Can it makes us breakfast? When you sit down and think about the impact of the mobile phone you find yourself answering “yes” to these questions (except maybe the last one, although you can always call some to bring it for you…)

The Mizuko Ito research “Mobile Phones, Japanese Youths, and the Replacement of Social Contact” allows us an interesting insight into the mobile phone’s role in social hierarchy and inevitably how this media adds more rules for us to follow in its own hierarchal system. The concept of ‘mobility’ (the ability to move through space, in terms of mobile phones- communicative space) is seen as Ito takes us into three separate places: the home, school and transport and how the mobile phone has changed how we mediate our way through these spaces.

He describes how “the phone has always provided a way of overcoming the spatial boundary of the home”, that is, we can stay in contact with others regardless of our physical limitations. He shows how the mobile phone allows teens to “enjoy a sense of co-presence with peers that they are not able to realize physically”. They see it as privacy from the family but you can also hit back at this idea and ask: when do you have privacy from you mobile phone connections? When you’re sleeping? Is that it? Is that all you need?

He also admits the mobile phone is a modern technology to challenge the communication hierarchy i.e. instead of passing notes in class, txt messages are sent instead. We find that the mobile phone is changing relations but merely following them in a different way whilst still respecting social norms (e.g. be silent while the teacher is talking). Except the repercussions of not following these rules can be more damaging than just reading your note to the whole class.

The notion of a mobile phone hierarchy is also highlighted where users have to follow a set of undefined but well known rules – ignoring text messages being a big no no. So we can look at mobility accessed through new technologies to just be adding to our set of social rules in which we follow specific hierarchal ideas, how can we keep up?

Then there is physical mobility in association with communicative mobility (can we call this the tripling of space?). Who can’t say they have been sitting alone at the train station and pull out their phones and send a text message, make a call, or even pretend to take a call? Why do we do this? Ito’s research showed a spike in mobile communication whilst travelling and normally alone. The mobile phone can be seen as a symbol of friendship, of (I’m going to make up a word here) our “un-nigelness”. Is it necessary? Probably not, but we all feel more connected socially by doing it.

The concept of mobility has definitely broadened its horizons as new technologies come in to play a hand but in the end we have to decide – when does it become too much communication? When do we lose all privacy and alone time?

I leave you with this sad thought: raise your hand if you have been on the phone whilst doing the most private of all acts (in my conservative mind) – going to the toilet…