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Open Access Publications from the University of California

After Mobile Media invites artists, software developers, inventors and theorists to share their ideas on future mobile media. Which new forms of presence and communicational flows are mobile media creating? How do we proceed from here? Is qualitative change possible and if so, what is required to enable it ? Bold projects that explore aesthetics, ecologies, technologies, geo-politics and practices of mobile media and all forms of wireless technologies on all scales are welcome. In addition to exciting experiments and artworks on alternative mobile and networked media, we seek examples of local case studies, theoretical work on mobility and innovative evaluation strategies.

Theme Leaders:
Kim Sawchuk, Associate Professor Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University.
co-founder and editor of wi: journal of mobile media.
Current director of Mobile Media Lab, Montreal.
Marc Böhlen. Associate Professor, Media Study, SUNY Buffalo. Director: MediaRobotics Lab

Cover page of New Ways of Seeing: Artistic Usage of Locative Media

New Ways of Seeing: Artistic Usage of Locative Media


People living in urban areas have grown accustomed to the moving visual images surrounding them – displayed upon large screens attached to or integrated in the architecture of the city. In public squares, shopping streets or any other place where people gather, the moving image has become part of everyday public life. The growing ubiquity of mobile technologies in this environment has added another layer of moving image culture on top of the city. Different contexts and spaces, virtual and physical, are overlapping and changing all the time. Theorists and writers describe this development as a new augmented reality, responsive architecture or ambient experience design: a new environment that will lead to a different notion of public space, in turn creating new relationships between people and places. Without doubt the way that these media – from electronic sensors, urban screens and CCTV systems, to GPS and RFID tags – are experienced has significantly impacted the way people communicate as well as their practices of physical and affective orientation. But does this lead to the conclusion that public space is no longer determined by city planning and geographical boundaries? Throughout history artists have tried to reconsider, remap and re-appropriate the boundaries of the city, sometimes reviving older methods in order to cope with new technologies. This paper focuses on contemporary artistic practices that use mobile technologies either as platform or tool to reconsider people’s relationships to mobile technologies and place. If these technologies really are so influential in shaping one’s relation to the city, do such artistic projects succeed in creating a new affect of place?

Cover page of Designing Better Sociable Media

Designing Better Sociable Media


The goal of this paper is to investigate the effects of technologically mediated communication on face-to-face conversation, and to propose improvements to the design practices of future sociable media through small-scale media experiments. Currently, developing research on sociable media myopically takes an atomistic approach toward design. In this paper I propose an example of a form of sociable media which responds, not at an atomized, individual level, but at a cultural level.

Cover page of Mobile After-media, Cultural Narratives and the Data Imaginary

Mobile After-media, Cultural Narratives and the Data Imaginary


In the context of a conference themed “After media,” this paper suggests a notion of after-media – not as a time beyond the demise of some particular media, but as an approach where the goals of a new medium are made explicit in relation to its historical foundations and practices. The author presents several principles and trajectories that shape his approach toward mobile after-media. These theoretical concerns are made more tangible by an explanation of the author’s project Datascape, a geographic storytelling platform that supports the telling of locative narratives by artists, researchers, educators and community groups.

Cover page of “Cute” displays: Developing an Emotional Bond with Your Mobile Interface

“Cute” displays: Developing an Emotional Bond with Your Mobile Interface


In this paper the concept of “cute” and psychological “cuteness” are used as platforms for understanding human emotional response to mobile phone design. The focus is on graphical user interface (GUI) icons and how the design is used to strengthen semantic relationships between the image and function and encourage emotional bonds between human and appliance. The hypothetical argument is that affectionate perception of mobile technology increases user cognition.

Cover page of Sentient City Survival Kit: Archaeology of the Near Future

Sentient City Survival Kit: Archaeology of the Near Future


In this paper, I discuss the Sentient City Survival Kit, a design research project that probes the social, cultural and political implications of ubiquitous computing for urban environments. Following a discussion of the philosophical and cultural problems of attributing sentience to non-human actors, I present a brief cross-section of historical and contemporary constructions of nonhuman sentient beings in the fields of science fiction literature, computer science research, and applied technology. The paper concludes by introducing the notion of an archaeology of the near future as a conceptual framework for designing and fabricating a series of artifacts, spaces and media for ‘survival’ in the near future ‘sentient’ city.

Cover page of Twitflick: visualizing the rhythm and narrative of micro-blogging activity

Twitflick: visualizing the rhythm and narrative of micro-blogging activity


Micro-blogging is a form of online communication by which users broadcast brief text updates, or tweets. This arti- cle explores the temporal component of micro-blogging ac- tivity by emphasizing its narrative nature: an individual tweet is an expression of personal online presence at a given time, yet it necessarily embodies the context of a broader developing story. We present Twit ick, a digital media platform that blends a continuous stream of real-time text updates from Twitter with related user-uploaded images hosted on Flickr. Twit ick acts as a space in which dis- tributed, temporally-authentic personal narratives, in the form of photographs and text, reinforce, extend, and even misrepresent each other. The visualizations provided by Twitflick capture the quotidian rhythms of online social exchange and draw attention to the poetic potential of web 2.0.

Cover page of Re-moving Flat Ontologies: Mobile Locative Tagging and Ars Combinatoria in the Hollins Community Project

Re-moving Flat Ontologies: Mobile Locative Tagging and Ars Combinatoria in the Hollins Community Project


This paper reconsiders the relationship between historical time, embodied time, and locative media. The example for this paper is the second phase of The Hollins Community Project , a locative new media installation that takes place on a trail used by former slaves of Hollins University, Virginia (USA) during the nineteenth century. The project mixes historical material with in situ virtual narratives and embodied interactions within the space to experiment with the affective and distributed aspects of narrative. An earlier phase of this project imagined the exchanges between the physical and virtual interface as a version of a memory theatre. A tagging function has since been included in the interface to explore further the temporal intensities that form up around affect and incipient narrative. Ars combinatoria , an early modern model of “tagging” (parataxic assemblage, process, and affective presence) offers a productive comparison with contemporary spatial ontologies of tagging. The paper argues for a broadened discussion of the significance of temporal affect in locative media. This work also addresses the potential in mixing historical and contemporary approaches to locative new media.