Book club lunch was canceled.
I spent some time this evening dealing with the staffing of the STC presentation, "675 Survivors," which is next Tuesday (09/05) at 7:30 PM.
The rest of my evening was spent on my reading assignments for COM 598M Mobile Technologies & Social Practices, which is the class I moved to from COM 498M Mobile Technologies & Cultures.
The names of these two courses sound very similar, because they are similar. The 498 class is an undergraduate course, and is a lecture course. The 598 class is a graduate course, and is a seminar course.
These are the readings, and my associated blog entry with each:
Poster, M. (2003). Digitally local communications: technology and space. In Proceedings of the Conference on the Global and the Local in Mobile Communication: Places, Images, People, Connections, 1-12. Budapest, June 10-12. Retrieved July 18, 2006, from http://www.fil.hu/mobil/2004/Poster_webversion.doc
Digitally Local Communications: Technologies and Space
Poster enumerates three meanings of mobile communication: movement of the information itself; movement of people carrying their information; and movement of people not only carrying their information, but generating, transmitting, and receiving it as they are moving. He then explores the implications of space with regards to this "complex mixture of mobility," followed by a contention that "[t]he body is central to new configurations of local/global spaces of communications." The article concludes by examining e-mail in Trinidad and mobile phones in Italy in terms of the effect mobile communication has on space and identity.
This reading introduces the notion that the complexity of mobile communication is beginning to challenge long-held paradigms of social spaces, and helps to broaden my view of what social space is. This reading reminded me of sitting at Helios coffee shop on Sunday, watching two young people having a conversation, each with earbuds in their ears. Presumably, they had their attached devices turned off or paused for the moment. This seems to epitomize one of Poster's concluding remarks: "...mobile communications, in its multiple meanings, brings into being new forms of the self in new landscapes of space."
I thought one of the strengths of this article was its concrete examples.
Moores, S. (2004). The doubling of place: electronic media, time-space arrangements and social relationships. In N. Couldry & A. McCarthy, (Eds.), Media/Space: Place, Scale and Culture in a Media Age (pp.21-36). London: Routledge (Comedia Series).
The Doubling of Place
Moores introduces us to the idea that when media broadcasts an event, it takes place both where it is being transmitted and where it is being received. He gives examples of this phenomenon in television broadcasting, online via MUDs, and finally in telephone conversations.
The television example is discussed in terms of "presencing": providing access of "a present occasion to an absent audience." The MUD example provides supportive evidence that "the Internet is continuous with other social spaces" as opposed to being a "place apart from the rest of social life." The telephone example talks about "plural and competing definitions of 'the situation' becoming apparent" when telephone participants, "whose bodies reside in separate physical locations, are talking in a "shared virtual co-presence."
The telephone example reminded me of a recent visit to Panera's during which a woman sat in a corner next to me on a hands-free cell device talking incessantly, and very loudly, to the corner of the room. My thoughts went from, "Well, at least she's sitting in a corner and facing the corner," to "Do you really have no idea how f----- loud you are, or are you just so d--- self-absorbed and self-centered that you don't give a s--- that you're encroaching on everyone else's peace?" to "Well, this isn't a library, is it?" and finally to, "I'm putting in my iPod earbuds now, and, hopefully, my ear spray won't bother the person at the table next to me."
De Souza e Silva, A. (2006). From Cyber to hybrid: Mobile Technologies as Interfaces of Hybrid Spaces. Space and Culture, 9 (3), 261-278.
From Cyber to Hybrid
De Souza e Silva opens her article with her definition of a "social interface" and how its meaning evolves over time in an "additive" way — that is to say initially acquiring its meaning from "previous similar technologies" before it is "finally embedded in social practices." Next she differentiates between "hybrid spaces" and x realities, where x = mixed, augmented, or virtually :-), the key difference being that in hybrid space, there is "no disconnection between the physical and digital space."
The article discusses three "interconnected spatial analyses: connected spaces, mobile spaces, and social spaces," and explores four questions: (1) How do mobile technologies reconfigure our perceptions of space via users who are always potentially connected to the Internet and to other users? (2) How can cell phones be regarded as interfaces of hybrid spaces, promoting new types of social environments? (3) What happens when virtual communities migrate from the fixed Internet to physical spaces interfaced by mobile technologies? (4) How do mobile technologies allow users to connect in new ways to people who share the same contiguous space via location awareness?
I was particularly struck by question one. As you can see from my previous comments about the lady at Panera's, I seem to be doing that very "reconfiguring." It's like I'm following the Kubler-Ross stages of grief — grieving the loss of my traditional idea of "public space. I'm moving beyond denial and anger (well, for the most part :-)), and into the bargaining phase. (i.e., "Ok, this is a public space, but it isn't a library, is it?")
Castells, Fernandez-Ardevol, Qiu, & Sey, "Space and time in the mobile communication society " (pp. 231-236)
Space and Time in the Mobile Communication Society
For me, this article by Castells et. al. started off poorly in terms of communicating their point. It read as "techno-babble" to me — or perhaps, by this reading, I was just cranky, as I just changed to this class yesterday, and I'm trying to get the readings done by 3:00 today. Phrases like "the space of flows is not a placeless space," and "timeless time" without any examples (in the beginning) challenged my attention span. And, suddenly, in the middle of p. 234, I was caught off guard when it appeared to me that the author was referring to himself in the third person. After a re-read in the vicinity of the paragraph, I think I get that he was referring to Nicola Green.
Persevering, I came to understand more the notion of "timeless time" than "space of flows," finding the discussion of the "three main rhythms of mobile time: rhythms of device use, rhythms of everyday life, and rhythms of institutional change" as a means to that end. I think a lot of my problem with this reading had to do with "context" — it having no introduction, and its obvious excerption from a larger body of work.
One line from the article did take me back to the other readings in terms of the adoption of new technology — both in terms of using a device similarly to one of its "like predecessors," and in terms of the meaning of a social interface gradually evolving: "The 'freedom of contact' provided by the mobile phone means for people to free themselves from the place-based context of their interaction, shifting their frame of reference to the communication itself..." (p. 233) made me think about that idea of how when we first started using cell phones, one of the first questions we asked was always, "Where are you?" (With a landline, we knew where we were calling.) As we begin to "free ourselves from the place-based context," the first question, now, is probably more likely to be, "What's up?" or "Hey, how are you?"