Machines That Become Us: The Social Context of Personal Communication Technology

Machines That Become Us: The Social Context of Personal Communication Technology

by James E. Katz
     
 

ISBN-10: 0765801582

ISBN-13: 9780765801586

Pub. Date: 02/28/2003

Publisher: Transaction Publishers

Social critics and artificial intelligence experts have long prophesized that computers and robots would soon relegate humans to the dustbin of history. Many among the general population seem to have shared this fear of a dehumanized future. But how are people in the twenty-first century actually reacting to the ever-expanding array of gadgets and networks at their

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Overview

Social critics and artificial intelligence experts have long prophesized that computers and robots would soon relegate humans to the dustbin of history. Many among the general population seem to have shared this fear of a dehumanized future. But how are people in the twenty-first century actually reacting to the ever-expanding array of gadgets and networks at their disposal? Is computer anxiety a significant problem, paralyzing and terrorizing millions, or are ever-proliferating numbers of gadgets being enthusiastically embraced? Machines that Become Us explores the increasingly intimate relationship between people and their personal communication technologies.

In the first book of its kind, internationally recognized scholars from the United States and Europe explore this topic. Among the technologies analyzed include the Internet, personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile phones, networked homes, "smart" fabrics and wearable computers, interactive location badges, and implanted monitoring devices. The authors discuss critical policy issues, such as the problems of information resource access and equity, and the recently discovered "digital dropouts" phenomena.

The use of the word "become" in the book's title has three different meanings. The first suggests how people use these technologies to broaden their abilities to communicate and to represent themselves to others. Thus the technologies "become" extensions and representatives of the communicators. A second sense of "become" applies to analysis of the way these technologies become physically integrated with the user's clothing and even their bodies. Finally, contributors examine fashion aspects and uses of these technologies, that is, how they are used in ways becoming to the wearer. The conclusions of many chapters are supported by data, including ethnographic observations, attitude surveys and case studies from the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Finland, and Norway. This approach is especially valuable given the dearth of empirical studies in a field that has been traditionally dominated by extrapolation and speculation, and that has focused on possible future states rather than analysis of current situations. Other chapters are integrative, seeking to advance emerging theoretical perspectives.

This exciting volume generates new insights concerning the burgeoning electronic confusion that increasingly penetrates and blurs the boundaries of various spheres of life in modern society. Machines That Become Us will be of interest to students of communications and technology, sociologists, and social psychologists.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765801586
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
02/28/2003
Pages:
346
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.21(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgements
1Introduction1
2Do Machines Become Us?15
3Understanding Information and Communication Technology and Infrastructure in Everyday Life27
4Domestication and Mobile Telephony43
5Communication Technology and Sociability: Between Local Ties and "Global Ghetto"?57
6The Human Body: Natural and Artificial Technology71
7Digital Divides of the Internet and Mobile Phone: Structural Determinants of the Social Context of Communication Technologies91
8Social Capital and the New Communication Technologies105
9Information and Communication Technology in Russian Families117
10Face and Place: The Mobile Phone and Internet in the Netherlands127
11Communication Anxiety Among "Smart" Dutch Computer Users147
12The Social Context of the Mobile Phone Use of Norwegian Teens161
13Two Modes of Maintaining Interpersonal Relations Through Telephone: From the Domestic to the Mobile Phone171
14Culture and Design for Mobile Phones for China187
15Outwardly Mobile: Young People and Mobile Technologies201
16Breaking Time and Place: Mobile Technologies and Reconstituted Identities219
17Crossbreeding Wearable and Ubiquitous Computing: A Design Experience233
18Mobile Telephony, Mobility, and the Coordination of Everyday Life245
19Soft Machine267
20Aesthetics in Microgravity277
21Piercing, Tattoos, and Branding: Latent and Profound Reasons for Body Manipulations285
22"Perhaps It is a Body Part": How the Mobile Phone Became an Organic Part of the Everyday Lives of Finnish Children and Teenagers293
23Bodies, Machines, and Communication Contexts: What is to become of Us?311
About the Editor and Contributors321
Index327

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