Mobile end-user service adoption studies: A selective categorization

P. E. Pedersen, “Mobile end-user service adoption studies: A selective categorization,” in InterMedia Workshop on Mobility, (Oslo, Norway), November 20 2001. [PDF]


This paper reviews about 10 years of research on the users’ adoption of mobile technology. The author defines a typology of perspectives in end-user adoption studies dividing them between 3 kinds: a. diffusion research; b. adoption research; and c. domestication research.

Diffusion studies of mobile end-user services focus on describing adoption at aggregate level. typically, these studies classify adopters as belonging to different segments, such as early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards, and non-adopters. Adoption studies focus on describing and explaining adoption processes at the individual adopter level. Some descriptive studies focus on the decision process to adopt a new service, while others also investigate the attitudes towards using mobile services as use is habituated. Finally, domestication studies focus on studying service useand the consequences of use. However, these are not limited to individuals or aggregates but describe usage patterns of groups in society.


Welcome to the wireless world: problems using and understanding mobile telephony

Palen, L., and Salzman, M. (2001). Welcome to the wireless world: problems using and understanding mobile telephony. In Harper R. and Brown B. (eds.) The Wireless World. Springer Verlag, London. [PDF]


An interesting ethnographical study of handset usability. Their data collection and analysis approaches were in the qualitative tradition of the social sciences. They conducted multiple in-depth and open interviews over the course of the 6 weeks immediately following service acquisition. To understand the context of use, the authors grounded our questions in information that subjects reported in voice mail diaries, a technique they adapted from a paper-based diary study approach (Rieman, 1993). To tie these observations to frequency of telephone use as a characteristic of communicative practice, they collected data on actual calling behavior.

As a result, they outlined four attributes of wireless telephony that articulate the sources of user confusion with the technology.

What we talk about when we talk about context

P. Dourish, “What we talk about when we talk about context,” Personal Ubiquitous Comput., vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 19–30, 2004. [PDF]


An interesting conceptual article on the different theories about context. The author basically argues that we should avoid defining context as a status, a static entity (as in the positivist approach). Rather, the author argues that context could be defined within the interaction of agents in the communities of practices:

a. context is a relational property;
b. the scope of contextual properties are defined dynamically;
c. context is an occasioned property, relevant to particular settings, particular instances of actions, and particular parties to that actions;
d. context arises from the activity.

The central concern of context is with the question: how and why, in the course of their interactions, do people achieve and maintain a mutual understanding of the context for their actions?

The meaning of a technology, then, cannot be divorced from the ways that people have of using it. We see this in two points: a. people often find ways of using technology that are unexpected or unanticipated; b. even when technology conform to expectations, the meaning of the technology for those who use it depends on how generic features are particularized, how conventions emerge. The implications are well explained by Dourish:

the major design opportunity concerns not use of predefined context within a ubiquitous computing system, but rather how can ubiquitous computing support the process by which context is continually manifest, defined, negotiated, and shared? Ubiquitous computing technologies extend the reach of computation into the everyday world, and that world is one in which, through our everyday practice, we enact, sustain, and reproduce new forms of social meaning. The meaning itself may, by definition, be something that can never be removed from the social world and encoded in the technical. Nonetheless, though, technology plays a critical role in the evolution of meaning within communities of practice.

Rethinking pagerank

Interestingly in the last few months researchers started thinking about possible alternatives to Google’s pagerank algorithm. Given the rich information coming from trusted peers in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, researchers started designing alternatives based on the links shared in these platforms as well:

– Facebook EdgeRank:

– Twitter Tunkrank:

digital books, advanced reading

Recently, I have been attracted by a number of projects spinning around the idea of digitizing books. There are two aspects which to me deserve more attention: 1) first how to produce cheaply digitized version of traditional books, and 2) what to do once we have digital books.

(1) Concerning the first point, I like Google’s idea of digitizing all the biggest public libraries to give people access to this knowledge worldwide. However, this does not solve the issue of those billion of books which lie in people’s premises. To address this second point, a group of artists has put together a number of recommendations on how to build an home-made book scanner. See an example in the picture below.

(2) Digitizing the book might soon become the easy part. The next step would be to add interactivity to these book so that advanced reading features might become available. See the demo at this link. The idea is that an interactive book might offer translations on the fly, pronunciations of uncommon words, dictionary entries, support for the visually impaired, etc.