Mobile Technologies and Boundaryless Spaces

Via Mobile Technologies and Boundaryless Spaces: Slavish Lifetsyles, Seductive Meanderings, or Creative Empowerment Dholakia, N. and D. Swick (2003) :

Physically, a place is a space which is invested with understandings of behavioral appropriateness, cultural expectations, and so forth. We are located in “space”, but we act in “place” (Harrison & Dourish, 1996). Harrison and Dourish see space as somewhat of a second-order construct from which a “place” emerges through the actions of actors. For example, a theater is simply a three-dimensional space like many other three-dimensional spaces. What makes it a place we call theater (and not cathedral, mall, school, etc.) is the nature of the actions and interactions that take place among the actor within that space. The enactment of space, however, is not completely random. “The structure of the space around us moulds and guides our actions and interactions”. (Harrison & Dourish, 1996) Of course, Harrison and Dourish’s emphasis on practice is somewhat problematic for analytical purposes because it overlooks the power of language to signify (e.g., a theater is a theater because we call it that and we all accept this signification as true). The notion of enacting place is nonetheless useful because it hints at the constructed nature of place (e.g., a theater is a theater if and only if the actors in that space perform like they are in a theater). Mobile technologies add another layer of complexity to the process of denaturing of space because the enactment of a space, thus its transformation into a place, is increasingly done by the mobile cyborg. Portable devices expose us to incoming and outgoing information flows anytime, anywhere, making a collective and continuous experience of space and place less and less likely. Mobile technologies provide users with the phenomenological freedom to experience a space, any space, in a uniquely individual way, therefore creating their own “temporal place”. The result is total polysemy of place, without any natural or original context to draw from.