The Changing Culture of Mobile Phones

by Andy Polaine on September 19, 2007

In France at least (which is good, because we usually only get a very Anglo-Saxon view of these things).

Experientia have translated the summary of a report by The French Association of Mobile Operators on the changing culture of mobile phone usage.

Some of the really interesting points are about mobiles becoming collective items passed around social groups (in response to free talk-time packages) as well as the nature of and relationship to the devices on an emotional/cultural level.

It’s all interesting and you should have a read in detail and it’s fascinating to see how culture takes up tools and plays with their affordances. This last point about the taking of photos with mobiles was interesting to me:

The mobile phone is seen as a “average medium” that renews amateur photo and film practice.

Mobile phone images are viewed as precarious images, often of uncertain quality, not to be printed and not be shared between devices. These images always call up a description of something one should see. They serve to create memories and to prove that one really was present at the event one is talking about (e.g. a concert, a celebrity passing by …).

Mobile phone images are integrated within several reference frameworks that preceded the phone: the journalism of the everyday and one’s own life, spontaneous family images as opposed to fake happiness, the sensationalism that comes with having to set up brief, clear, efficient and striking acts.

More spectacular scenes can raise the challenge by bringing in the grotesque, the playful, the macabre, even violence. This is what lead to the videos gags, the MTV Jackass and the so-called ‘snuff movies’. The aggressions filmed on a mobile phone are one of the most recent expressions of this (although the expression ‘happy slapping’ was not used by any of the people interviewed within this study).

I’m not sure who did the translation (the blog post doesn’t show the author), but I’m guessing it was Mark Vanderbeeken who maintains Experientia. I can’t thank him enough, my schoolboy French would have bee soon out of its depth and drowning in a sea of declensions.

[tags]mobile, photography, Experientia[/tags]

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