Mobile Texting fosters new technosocial situations

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Japanese academics (Mizuko Ito and Daisuke Okabe) defines the concept of ‘technosocial situations’ to refer to technologically-mediated social orders (= Erving Goffmans’ theory of social situation : isomorphism between physical space and social situation).

Their work (an ethnographic research on mobile phone use and location in Japan) reveals that heavy mobile texting use fosters new kinds of technosocial situations. A stablizing set of patterns emerges through the use of SMS :

– mobile text chat : particularly to fill small ‘communication void’, in setting like public transportation where there are prohibitions voice calls.

– ambient virtual co-presence : messaging can be a way of maintaning ongoing background awareness of others -> a shared virtual space persistent as a technosocial system but not persistent from a technological perspective.

– augmented flesh meet : a technology-enhanced physically co-located gathering : “mobile phones have become devices for augmenting the experiences and properties of physically colocated encounters (berfore, during and after the encounter). Teens use mobile phones to bring in the presence of other friends who were not able to make it to the physical gathering, or to access information that is relevant to that particular time and place”. Before the meeting : in order to arrange the meeting (time, place, lateness…) -> coordination. During : when a sms come into a friend’s phone, it is common to ask whi it was from, what is the content, a conversation about that ensue. After : the conversation continues (participants thank the person who organized the gathering, add information (“I forgot to tell you…”) -> a newly emergent norm. constuction of new technosocial settings and situations : stretching of prior boundaries of what it means to “be together”