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Olga Paraskevopoulou Thesis (August 2011)

Olga Paraskevopoulou Thesis (August 2011)

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This thesis is an exploratory journey into the vast mobile ocean. We will review the process of how the Web has merged with the physical spaces through the use of mobile phones and specifically designed applications and services. This requires the documentation of new media and communication theory, social theory as well as to delve into the corporate and commercial world in order to shed light into the history, evolution and turns in the mobile field. As we will examine, it is yet to be determined whether the mobile ecosystem will leverage a proprietary paradigm or innovation would stem from collaborative efforts that will strive for the prevalence of open systems and open source software. Open innovation refers to the ways companies can benefit from distributed knowledge, external ideas and external routes to market. This informs the idea that most successful innovation happens not as a linear process but in environments which encourage the circulation of ideas and approaches. Throughout this journey we will attempt to determine the defining aspects of mobile innovation and finally speculate on the future of the ecosystem.
This thesis is an exploratory journey into the vast mobile ocean. We will review the process of how the Web has merged with the physical spaces through the use of mobile phones and specifically designed applications and services. This requires the documentation of new media and communication theory, social theory as well as to delve into the corporate and commercial world in order to shed light into the history, evolution and turns in the mobile field. As we will examine, it is yet to be determined whether the mobile ecosystem will leverage a proprietary paradigm or innovation would stem from collaborative efforts that will strive for the prevalence of open systems and open source software. Open innovation refers to the ways companies can benefit from distributed knowledge, external ideas and external routes to market. This informs the idea that most successful innovation happens not as a linear process but in environments which encourage the circulation of ideas and approaches. Throughout this journey we will attempt to determine the defining aspects of mobile innovation and finally speculate on the future of the ecosystem.

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Published by: Olga Paraskevopoulou on Oct 06, 2011
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05/23/2012

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To understand the social penetration and impact of new media, we need to consider

both technology’s specificity and architecture, and the personal, cultural and historical

presumptions and values that those characteristics evoke. This is important because when

people explain and evaluate the consequences of a new medium in terms of technological,

social, or some combination of these forces, they rely on theoretical assumptions about

causality and specificity of the technology (Baym, 2010). This chapter aims in exploring how

digital technology and patterns of its use shape today’s culture and ways that we could

approach this dialogical relationship to enhance and enrich this experience. In the previous

chapter, we have examined the notion of urban sentience, the evolving nature of an

information ecosystem that is build in real-time and ‘on the move’, and we touched upon the

implications of software innovation. In this section, and before we move on to a more detailed

examination of the mobile ecosystem, we will document key concepts that appear in the

discourse driven by social science; as to be able to investigate technology, we need to first

look and try to understand humans and society (Moore, 2008). From a communication and

social perspective, a question that needs to be addressed is whether new technologies

inaugurate new social ties. By reviewing the new social conditions that have emerged and the

role of communication and mobility within those, we are certainly inclined to answer ‘yes’.

As Baym describes in her book (2010), the question whether we are depended upon

the technological tools or are the tools products of social needs has been to the point of social

discourse for long time. Mobile communication in particular, is throughout the whole world, a

pervasive means of communication, mediating social practice in all spheres of human life.

However, according to Castells (2007), it is adopted, adapted, and modified by people to fit

their own practices, according to their needs, values, interests, and desires. People shape

communication technology, yet, the specificity of the technology reflects into the ways in

which people conduct their lives. This dialogical relationship of society and technology helps

grounding the technological effects and implications to the technology’s specific capabilities

(hardware and software) and consequences. In addition, it reminds us that the way public

perceptions are formed, contribute significantly to policy making processes and the formation

of usage patterns in the long run.

Mobile is more than just being wireless, it suggests an entirely different user

experience and mobility, accordingly, has become a central theme in social discourse, as long

as people and data are ‘on the move’. Mobile technologies assist in connecting, understanding

and discovering meaningful aspects entailed by the various time-space dislocations of life ‘on

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the move’. Social changes are, therefore, implicated in the ever-increasing movement of

people, things, capital, information and ideas around the globe (Elliot &Urry, 2010). Elliot &

Urry argue that today’s culture of mobile lives is substantially created in and through the

deployment of various miniaturized mobilities – mobile phones, laptop computers, wireless

connections. Can a new social structure of human agency be derived through systems of

movement?

These dislocations have been examined by social theory and their impact over the

public space and social cohesion has been often criticized. As the mobile phone is one of the

most influential devices, and it is increasingly becoming the main interface that connects

dislocated people with each other and with the world, it has provoked opposing allegations.

Mobile phones are characterized by their personal, private, and, in certain cases, intimate use.

For that reason - although according to Ballard, fundamentally, ‘mobile’ refers to the user,

and not the device or application-, the handset itself can be seen as a communicational node,

always attached to a person- of the social network. It becomes interesting to investigate how

people, by accessing the internet from their mobile communication devices, are becoming the

nodes of multiple communication channels. In contrast to the fixed telephone, these devices

are the multipurpose, multi-connecting points in the network of communication, and are

carried by users who wander through physical spaces.

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