Tag Archives: online

Geographers and technology (part 2)

By Kelly Wakefield

This article follows on from my last article about geographers and technology and is the second part because I am currently on my summer(?) holidays.  The first article discussed geographers and mobile phones, which got me thinking about how mobile phones are not just mobile phones anymore.  They are the key to so many of our daily activities and yet are materially so small.  The connection between my two articles is that of the advancement of mobile phones to be able to connect to social networking sites.  Pfaffs’s (2010) article concentrates more on the ways in which geographers have engaged with the mobile phone rather than the mobile phone being the core of the article.  Geographical narratives from Laurier (2001) and Thrift (1996) have questioned the mobile as being a designer item to some to just a rental agreement to others.  I would argue though that as the mobile phone has increasingly become more important in our lives and as such has become a staple of business and social interaction, people view their mobile phones as much more important than just a status piece or business transaction.

A recent BBC article called “Facebook film The Social Network tops US box office” charts the rise of Mark Zuckerberg and his friend at Harvard University after launching the social networking site, Facebook.  The film took £14.5 million in its first weekend in the USA, which leads me to ask, why are we so interested in this technological phenomenon?  It may be because the supposed story line tackles the legal battle between Mark Zuckerberg and his friend and three fellow students who claim he stole the idea of Facebook from them.    The most modern mobile phones can access social networking sites like Facebook with such ease that we are just a few taps on a screen away from chatting and interacting with anyone we want.  It is easy to see why so many people have an interest in Facebook and its history, or maybe we just like a film with a good storyline and a controversial court case as the plot.

Pfaff, J (2010), “Mobile Phone Geographies“, Geography Compass, Volume 4, Issue 10, Pages 1433-1447.

BBC, 4th October 2010, “Facebook film The Social Network tops US box office

Geographers and technology

By Kelly Wakefield

Whilst doing a recent literature (and Internet) search on digital technologies, online social networking and Web 2.0 for my own research, I came across an article by Pfaff (2010) entitled Mobile Phone Geographies.  Pfaff (2010, p 1433) introduces the history of the mobile phone and speculates on the way in which this new technology (Motorola introduced the first widely available model in only 1983 in the USA), “modifies and negotiates our way of being in the world”.  Although little research has actually been conducted about the geographies of the mobile phone, it would be difficult to argue against the idea that a lot of geographical research is done on mobile phones.

In the past decade, the mobile phone has gone from being just a telephone, to SMS sender and now with the iPhone and Android software available, the mobile phone is nothing less than a mini computer.   Long train journeys and commuting have without doubt been changed by the possibility of accessing the Internet and email on mobile phones, extending the work place into the space of public transport.  Geographical discussions have looked at ‘re-thinking’ the object, that is to say, to look at the ways in which the material and immaterial intertwine.  With ever more modern technology constantly competing in the market, geographical approaches to research both about and on the mobile phone need to keep critically examining its changing pace.

Pfaff, J (2010), “Mobile Phone Geographies“, Geography Compass, Volume 4, Issue 10, Pages 1433-1447.