Mobility in Today’s Age

By: Ryan Counihan

The need for humans to communicate with one another has been around for thousands of years. From early cave paintings to ICTs we use today, such as cell phones and computers. Humans have always tried communicating their thoughts and ideas with others. The first huge advancement dealing with mobile history would have to be the Gutenberg Printing Press invented in 1440 (Farman, pg. 12).


The printing press allowed for people to better understand the world they lived in, and ushered in the period of modernity. The printing press allowed for mass production of books, which led to an era of mass communication.  This led to the more people reading! Books became cheaper then previous handwritten books. The next huge advancement in mobile history would have to be the first working mechanical telegraph invented by the Chappe brothers in 1790 (Goggin, pg. 19). The telegraph was used mainly to transmit and receive messages over long distances. In the year 1876, the first telephone was invented (Ling and Donner, pg. 34). Though it can be disputed for who actually was the first to invent the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell was the first to receive a patent for the electric telephone. The device allowed for two or more users to have a conversation in completely different vicinities. It was revolutionary and allowed for great advancements to take place in the world. By the year 1910, 10 million telephones were in use worldwide. A few years later in 1950, 75 million people were using telephones (Goggin, pg. 21). The telephone really took off and was a success almost right off the bat. The next big step was taking the telephone and making it portable. In 1983, Motorola released the first hand held mobile phone (Farman, pg. 17). All of these mobile technologies have lead up to today.


Nowadays we have smart phones, which have the ability not only to communicate via voice and text, but also the ability to use and browse the Internet. We now live in a world where almost anything we need is at our fingertips. According to Masao Kakihara and Carsten Sorensen, “being mobile is not just a matter of people traveling but, far more importantly, related to the interaction they perform- the way in which they interact with each other in their social lives (Kakihara & Sorensen, pg. 33). This statement by Kakihara and Sorensen is very important to understand. I believe that they are saying that mobility is not about physically moving from point a to point b, but rather mobility is how we as humans use the technologies we have to progress in our own lives. How we can use these new technologies to better understand the world we live in, and how these new technologies can better people’s lives. These new technologies, if used the right way can help better social and economic needs, they can help make more groundbreaking medical advancements. They may even help bring about world peace and a better understanding of what it is to be human.

Kakihara and Sorensen “suggest expanding the concept of mobility by looking at three distinct dimensions of human interaction; namely, spatial, temporal, and contextual mobility (Kakihara & Sorensen, pg. 33). Spatial mobility deals with the mobility of objects, symbols, and space. This means that mobile objects such as iPods have replaced older ways of listening to music. Back in the day their used to be vinyl players that were stationary, nowadays we take our music with us on the go. We have taken objects that were not mobile and mobilized them. We have changed the way we look at space; for example, one can talk online with people in various countries at the same time. Through the use of ICTs we can interact with people all around the world. Time and space now hold different meanings in our mobilized society. Temporal mobility deals with time. With the use of ICTs our experience of time changes from Monochronicity (doing one thing at a time) to Polychronicity (multitasking). And contextual mobility deals with things that were not once permanent and making them permanent or recordable. These three dimensions (spatial, temporal, contextual) of human interaction have been dramatically changed and have been made mobile with the use of ICTs. These technologies have been made mobile not only in our social lives, but in particularly in our work environments. The mobilization of these new technologies has only begun. And there will surely be more advancement as we continue to use and further develop these ICTs. In the future we will have to rewrite all of these definitions of mobility that we have today. Technologies are constantly changing and adapting to environments that we make for ourselves with the use of ICTs. We have learned so much already, and have much more to discover.


Alexander graham bell biography [Theater]. Available from

Goggin, Gerard and Hamilton, Caroline. (2012). “Reading After the Phone: E-reader and mobile media,” in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader. New York: Peter Lang. p. 102-119

Kakihara, Masao & Sorensen, Carsten. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. SIGGROUP Bulletin, 22(3), 33-37.

[Print Photo]. Retrieved from


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