Thesis: The mobile phone is a medium in itself
In her thesis ”The mobile phone: a medium in itself” Virpi Oksman, Research Scientist from VTT, examines the integration of the mobile phone into everyday life as a communication device and as media. It focuses on the uses of the mobile phone as a pervasive multimedia tool and its relationship to other media in the changing media landscape. Oksman presented her thesis at the University of Tampere on 28 May, 2010.
The empirical material of the dissertation consists of 1,600 interviews of
Finnish people conducted between 1997 and 2007. The research sample includes
teenagers, young adults, families and senior citizens from different
socio-economic backgrounds. In addition, media diaries and photographic
materials, such as 1200 mms messages were collected. Log data was collected to
reveal the time and duration of actual occurrences of mobile media service
such as mobile TV use.
In media studies the mobile phone has been perceived as a sub-media to traditional media. As a medium it has its own specific characteristics and social functions, although its uses may vary in different contexts and cultures. However, this argument does not mean that the mobile phone is a medium without user involvements. The role of user innovations has been important in constructing the mobile phone’s role in the media field: for instance, text messaging has brought a new kind of social interaction and media form with it.
Indeed, the mobile phone has influenced the ways in which we can interact with other media. The mobile phone is located between personal, social and mass media, and can serve personal, peer-to-peer and mass communication purposes in different communications situations. The mobile phone is not only a developing tool for citizenship journalism and participatory media making, but also a channel between traditional and new media, as it, in some cases enables the interactivity of television.
Text messaging has been incorporated into television and, in some cases, also into newspapers. It seems that the mobile phone as a personal and ubiquitous technology may lower the threshold for participating in media making. The role of the mobile phone as a tool in digital storytelling has become more important as the number of reader’s own photographs as news material in newspapers has increased. The newspaper offices and other media have to find a solution how to act with the increasing content produced by their audience; for instance, how to find the important news and verify the reliability and originality of the material.
Yet, the physical user interface of the mobile phone is quite different from other media. This means that in the media production stage, the media content has to be tailored so that it can be accessed with a mobile phone and read on their small-screen user interfaces. Currently, there are problems related to the immature technology, such as mobile web browsing problems. Usability issues regarding small-screen user interfaces are particularly important.
The mobile phone enables an instantaneous news, information and discussion channel for the mass media. Indeed, the role of the mobile phone in participatory media making could be further developed in media companies. Furthermore, the possibilities of mobile phones are not yet fully utilized in crisis communication. More likely, the role of the mobile phone as an interactive link between the personal user and social and mass media will increase in the future.
Publication “The mobile phone – a medium in itself”:
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