discussion

Ling talks about the mobile phone as a “technology of social mediation” which facilitate our social interactions–we use mobile phones primarily as a tool to connect with others, from (increasingly less popular) basic features like voice calling and text messaging to video chats, all forms of social media, online gaming, etc. Are there any features of mobile phones (apps, hardware functions) that have changed they ways in which you communicate in recent years? How did you come to use these features, and what previous practices did they replace? Have you ever lost or forgotten your phone, or been with someone else who has, and had to try to plan a meetup or some other event? How did that work out, and what did it tell you about how you rely on your phone?

While we think of mobile media today almost exclusively in terms of mobile (smart) phones, the Alper reading presents a time when “mobile” referred to so-called “portable” computers in a time before the laptop became the standard for the portable computer. Even though the computers in this article are a sort of evolutionary dead-end, Alper argues that they helped set expectations for what mobile/portable computing was capable of. How have some of the expectations of portable computers carried over into mobile media today–not just smartphones, but other mobile devices as well? Who was the intended user of the portable computer, and what role does that user play in the design of mobile media today?

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