Interactions Through Technology
Mobility is a term that has been understood in different ways throughout history. It can be explained as the movement of people, the use of mobile technologies, and interactions between people. Masao Kakihara and Carsten Sorensen explain that mobility is not only the geographical movement of people but also the interaction between one another. (Kakihara & Sorensen, 2001, p. 36) They argue that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s) affect the way humans communicate. Cell phones for example, have given humans multiple ways to interact between each other. Their concept of mobility is explained through spatial, temporal, and contextual interactions. Mobile devices and technologies affect our interactions and lives on a daily basis.
Technology has progressively transformed throughout history. Our interactions became quicker and more convenient. In 1790 the Chappe brothers created the first mechanical telegraph. (Goggin, 2006, pg. 19) The first telegraph was sent four years later after it was created.(Goggin, 2006, p.19) The telegraph gave people a chance to communicate messages in a faster way. It seems that the telegraph in the 19th century was equivalent to texting in the 21st century. The telegraph relates to Kakihara and Sorenson’s concept of spatial mobility, the movement of objects. Now global news and messages would be easier to receive because of this new communication. The invention of the telephone in 1877 changed the way people would communicate from this point in time. (Goggin, 2006, 20) The telephone improved work and home lives. Although these devices were not portable, they significantly improved the interaction between humans.
The concept of time was now shaped by these emerging technologies. People would adjust to receiving messages quicker. In the 1890’s portable and transportable telephones were created. (Goggin, 2006) Later, The first mobile telephone was used in a car in 1910 (Farman, pg. 15) AT&T was founded which symbolized the rising power of the telephone. ( Goggin, 2006, 20) “The increasing temporal mobilization of human interaction is simultaneously creating new opportunities and constraints for the ecology of social life”(Kakihara and Sorenson, 2001, 35) Telephone subscriptions were becoming more popular in the United States. The need for quick interaction made the telephone so popular. Ten million telephones were in use worldwide in 1910. (Goggin, 2006, 21). The telephone transformed from large, bulky, devices to smaller, more portable ones. The mobile phone was created and released by Motorola in 1983. The cell phone has skyrocketed and has evolved quickly in the past 20 years. The potential uses of texting were discovered by teens. ( (Baron 2008, Ling 2005b, 2007b). Cell phones have become a powerful device with limitless capabilities. Polychronicity is increasing from the use of cell phones. The iPhone, especially, has challenged our minds with its endless functions. People can now be listening to music while surfing the web, while also playing Angry Birds, AND can be texting..all at the same time.
Masao Kakihara and Carson Sorensen explain their understanding of mobility in the article Expanding the Mobility Concept. Mobility is the action of people interacting and communicating with each other. Technology and ICT’s influence the way people network one another. Mobility can be understood through the concepts of spatial, temporal, and contextual mobility.
Spatial mobility is the movement of objects and symbols.(Kakihara and Sorensen, 2001, p.34) Kakihara and Sorenson give an example of the uses of the Sony Walkman. “It is virtually an extension of the skin. It is fitted, molded, like so much else in modem consumer culture, to the body itself… It is designed for movement – for mobility, for people who are always out and about, for traveling light. It is part of the required equipment of the modem ‘nomad’… it is testimony to the high value which the culture of late-modernity places on mobility” (Du Gay, 1997, pg.23)
Temporal mobility is the invention of technology and improving lives in work and home places. Time is also structured through temporal mobility. There is structural, time in a practical sense, and interpretive, how we interpret time passing. People at work are now evaluating how fast or slow the time is passing. (Kakihara and Sorenson, 2001, p.17) Temporal mobility also explains how monochronicity and polychronicity are becoming part of human culture. People are now multitasking more often.
The last part of Kakihara and Sorensens explanation of mobility is contextual mobility. Today especially, humans understand texting and phone calls as different forms of communications. Texting is used for delayed answers while phone calls are used for immediate interactions. People interact unobtrusively or obtrusively, meaning reacting not right away or reacting right away. A post it note on some ones desk at work can be understood differently than an email sent out.
Technologies have become the prime way to interact with each other today. ICT’s are used to text, call, beep, FacetTme, poke, or whatever the case may be. The human species have grown to adapt to technologies to interact with one another. Masao Kakihara and Carsten Sorensen propose their definition of mobility as the way humans connect with each other. Connecting can be done through spatial, temporal, and contextual mobility. ICT’s are the 21st century way of communication between people. Time will tell how people will learn to communicate through the creation of more complex technologies.
Du Gay, P., S. Hall, L. Janes, H. Mackay, and K. Negus (1997). Doing Culural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman. London: Sage Publications.
Goggin, G. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile Technology in Everyday Life. London: Routledge. Capter 2, 19-40.
Kakihara, M. and Sorenson, C. (December, 2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. Volume 22 (No.3), 34.
Ling, R. and Donner, J. (2009). Mobile Communication. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Chapter 1, p. 1-29.