Technological Situations: Emergent Structurings of Mobile Email Use

M. Ito and D. Okabe. Personal, Portable Intimarte: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life, chapter Technological Situations: Emergent Structurings of Mobile Email Use, pages 1–15. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2005. [pdf]


The authors analyse the use of mobile phone in Japanese youths. Instead of considering the aspect of the mobiles that are often critiques as disrupting currnet social practices, the author propose a view of phones that create new kind of boundled places that merge the infrastructures of geography and technology, and technological practices that merge technical standards and social norms. They call these “technological situations”, a way of incorporating the insight of theories of practice and social interaction into a framework that takes into account mediated social orders.

They present three different technological situations that are built on mobile email: mobile chat, an analoguous of text-chat used to fill dead time; ambient virtual co-presence, a way of mainitaining background awareness of others; and the augmented flesh meet, a way to augment the experience of physically co-located encounters.

I like this excerpt of an SMS exchange, which shows some linguistic markers of location cues (in Italics). Also landmarks are explicitly stated (in bold):

[Bus stop] 15:00 (Send) I’ll be about thirty minutes late.

[Bus stop] 15:01 (Receive)  Okay.

[Shibuya station] 16:32 (Send) I’ve arrived
at Shibuya.

[Shibuya station] 16:33 (Receive)
Where in Shibuya are you?

[Shibuya station] 16:34 (Send) 
Hachiko Square.

[Shibuya station] 16:35 (Receive) Wait
there.  I’ll be right over.

[Shibuya station] 16:36 (Send)  Okay.  Will wait.

[Shibuya station] 16:40 (Voice call) “
Where are you?  Oh, there, okay, I see you.”

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply