28 June 2007

Portable objects in three global cities: the personalisation of urban places

Be the first to share

In bag
With Daisuke Okabe and Ken Anderson. Draft of a chapter forthcoming in Rich Ling and Scott Campbell Eds., The Mobile Communication Research Annual Volume 1: The Reconstruction of Space & Time through Mobile Communication Practices. Transaction Books.

Mizuko Ito reports on her blog that a few years ago she was part of a collaborative fieldwork project with colleagues at her lab at Keio and at Intel’s People and Practices group.

They did data collection in three global cities — London, Los Angeles and Tokyo — looking at what young professionals carried around with them in locations outside of home and office. The authors were interested in issues of device convergence and how portable media players and different aspects of financial transactions were moving to the digital space and have just completed a draft of a paper on the three-city study.

Abstract

The mobile phone has become the central node of the ensemble of portable objects that urbanites carry with them as they negotiate their way through information-rich global cities.

This paper reports on a study conducted in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and London where we tracked young professionals’ use of the portable objects.

By examining devices such as music players, credit cards, transit cards, keys, and ID cards in addition to mobile phones, this study seeks to understand how portable devices construct and support an individual’s identity and activities, mediating relationships with people, places, and
institutions. Portable informational objects reshape and personalise the affordances of urban space. Laptops transform cafés into personal offices. Reward and membership cards keep track of individuals’ use of urban services. Music players and mobile devices colonise the in-between times of waiting and transit with the logic of personal communications and media consumption.

Our focus in this paper is not on the relational communication that has been the focus of most mobile communication studies, but rather on how portable devices mediate relationships to urban space and infrastructures.

We identify three genres of presence in urban space that involve the combination of portable media devices, people, infrastructures, and locations: cocooning, camping, and footprinting. These place-making processes provide hints to how portable devices have reshaped the experience of space and time in global cities.

Download paper (pdf, 300 kb, 17 pages)

Since then, Daisuke Okabe and Mizuko Ito have been conducting a longer term follow on in this work, focusing on Tokyo. They have been following a more diverse set of participants over two years, looking at how their “portable kit” changes over time. A short essay reports on where things stand at the moment.

Be the first to share
24 May 2017
A human-centric trust model for the Internet of Things
"Technologists have done a terrible job with security technology so far", writes David Maher, and "now we are about to impose those failures onto the physical world on a scale that only ubiquitous, pervasive, even …
9 May 2017
Data ethnographies: how do people live with data?
Data Ethnographies is a Lab of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC), at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Data Ethnographies investigates the implications of the increasing ubiquity of data in everyday lives and worlds. We …
8 May 2017
Why service design is the new black — Intel’s Todd Harple on fashion tech
The world of fashion is becoming increasingly digital — and not just wearable devices, but with clothing made from fabrics that actually integrate sensors and technology that can monitor and measure the wearer. As fashion starts to …
28 April 2017
Global study: Leading companies bet on customer experience
A new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reveals that customer experience is vital for business success, and establishes social media as the foundation for customer experience. The survey, which includes 600+ leaders from the …
28 April 2017
[Book] Quantitative Ethnography
Quantitative Ethnography David Williamson Shaffer Boswell Press Available April 2017 > Download Introduction > Watch video presentation This is a book about understanding why, in the digital age, the old distinctions between qualitative and quantitative research methods, between the sciences and …
22 April 2017
An anthropologist in the boardroom
"It is often tempting to think that the 21st-century world is so closely integrated and digitised that the issue of culture is becoming irrelevant," writes Gillian Tett in the Financial Times. "But behind the scenes, …
22 April 2017
Boston’s human-centered research to design middle-income housing
In Boston, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is conducting ethnographic, human-centered research to design middle-income housing that reflects people’s lived experiences, reports the Stanford Social Innovation Review. This includes intensive planning sessions in …
21 April 2017
ONE Design: a portal on Adaptive Path’s work with Capital One Bank
ONE Design is a content portal where Capital One, the eighth-largest bank in the United States, shares (many) inspiring stories of how their Adaptive Path designers "impact lives with humanity, simplicity, ingenuity - and empower …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

31 March 2017
Experientia guide to Milan Design Week 2017

It’s that time of year again – Milan’s don’t-miss event for the design community is here. If you’re looking to get inspired at Milan Design Week, then check out our top picks for the latest edition, from Experientia’s designers, strategists and partners. Milan might be best known for its busy streets, traditional cafés and world […]

12 January 2017
Experientia’s CITYOPT project awarded prestigious French award for its sustainable development design

Following the 2016 Smart Innovation Award at “FIMBACTE Trophées du Cadre de vie”, the CITYOPT project has once again been recognized, this time in the prestigious French design competition: “Observeur du Design 2017”, in the Service Design category. In June 2016, CITYOPT won the first stage of the Observeur du Design. Now the project has […]

1 December 2016
More on upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Last month Putting People First announced the upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities in Nice France. Meanwhile we are pleased to announce the full event agenda (see below). This event will feature professionals from leading research institutes and industry gathering to present key initiatives which combine Energy Efficiency and Service Design […]

29 October 2016
Upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Invitation to the International Conference on Design & Sustainable Innovation for SmartCities Nice (France) 8 December 2016 On the 8th December 2016, the CITYOPT project will host an international conference on Design and sustainable innovation for SmartCities, at the Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, France. An open invitation to attend is offered to people and organisations who […]

28 October 2016
Experientia’s President, Michele Visciòla, panel judge for MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition

The 100&Change is an international competition and a landmark opportunity for thinkers and designers to tackle critical challenges affecting the world. Michele Visciòla will be one of the panel of expert judges who will select which project is worthy of the $100 million grant. 100&Change is the MacArthur Foundation competition – launched this year for […]

5 September 2016
Great engine, but the fuel seems poor. Discussing insight development in corporate marketing

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) contains a lengthy essay, entitled Building an Insights Engine, on how Unilever has created the organizational capabilities to “transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy.” The article was written by Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed of a […]

See all articles