Mobility

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The main concept in Volker’s reading “mobile media space” is associated with the embedding of virtual spaces in to physical spaces. I found the core discussion regarding this concept to be based around these types of spaces and the perceived potential threats to reality associated with media technologies and the creation of virtual space.

Volker uses the examples of social mobile software such as Semapedia and Socialight to provide examples of ways in which the virtual world is connected with the physical world. As she notes. “Semapedia’s barcodes intermediate as simultaneously physical and virtual places between real and digital virtual spaces” (Volker 2007, p. 135). It is interesting to note the immediacy associated with obtaining information offered by these social mobile softwares and the introduction of mobile phones and the internet. This is particularly important considering societies current time demand pressures where there is a general concept that everything needs to be achieved ‘yesterday’.

I found the concept of Socialite and Sticky Shadow to be similar to that recently introduced where drivers, through their mobile phones can access information regarding the location of mobile speed cameras, RBTs and red light cameras. Updates to the link are posted by drivers who pass these sites and available to all those who wish to access it. While this concept is not quite as detailed and extensive as Socialite, it provides an example of the linkages between virtual spaces and physical coordinates.     

The author notes the historical background associated with the emergence of digital media technology, virtual spaces and reality, and it is interesting to note the changing, and in some instances unchanging behaviours and attitudes linked to the integration of digital space and the relationship between virtuality and reality.  Volker captures the attitude of Baudrillard who labelled electronic media technologies as those which create “an indistinguishable copy of ‘reality’” (p.136).

It was interesting to note the similar historic perspectives associated with digital media technology and its perceived inability to allow human interaction and the creation of space. Auge (1995) justifies this perspective by noting that spaces created by mobile technologies as “not configured by inscriptions of history, relation and identity”…rather they are “non-places” (Volker 2007, p. 138).  Similarly, Morse notes this technology and the creation of non spaces as that which causes one to become “disengaged from the paramount orientation to reality” (Volker 2007, p. 138). While I can understand the perspectives taken by these authors, I believe that applications such as Semapedia and Socialite have offered an alternative way of completing certain tasks, which happen to portray aspects of convenience, instantaneity and mobility. Volker also argues against these historical views, suggesting that digitally generated spaces do not threaten reality but are rather “information places and as such entirely real” (Volker 2007, p. 140).

Supporting Volker’s argument, Ito in the writing ‘Mobile Phones, Japanese Youth, and the Replacement of the Social Contact’ suggests that mobile technology, in particular the mobile phone do not “erode the integrity of existing places or social attitudes” (Ito 2005, p.131). The author makes an interesting point that usage and characteristics associated with these mobile devices are not determined by the device, but rather the “social and cultural context and power relations” (Ito 2005, p. 131). I believe this is a valid point, and in many instances, the impact and effects of media technologies, mobility and virtual spaces is very much dependent on the individual who chooses to adopt its use and to what extent. Further, in drawing conclusions from her study, Ito suggests that the mobile phone is “not inherently a device that disrupts existing social norms and places” (Ito 2005, p. 146), a theory unlike that suggested by authors such as Auge and Morse.

I found it interesting to note the final concept offered by Volker in her reading where she suggests that mobility does not have to mean a change of real physical space, but can rather mean changing virtual space while remaining at the same real place. Providing this opportunity for people to connect to environments virtually is important considering the increasing time limitations and pressures associated with today’s society.

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