Saturday, March 22, 2008

where do you go to my lovely

Or the secret life of cell phones.
Consumerism related to cell phone acquisition involves many of us having more cell phones than people in our families. The spare, or two, in the drawer for just in case...leads me to discussing some of the invisible work involved as change happens. There is strategic invisibility in not acknowledging built in obsolescence. Manufacturers do not want their product to last forever or they wouldn't stay in business. The mobile phone becomes a fashion accessory with a life expectancy of approx 1.5 years but what happens to the old one?

Star and Strauss (1999) in Layers of silence, arena of voice: The ecology of visible and invisible work talk of the complex matrix that develops between visible and invisible, a relational ecology where illuminating one corner throws shadow on another. A phenomenon of tradeoffs and balances.
That a cell phone can now do this... hides the discard mountains of landfills.
(As well as other practices which in hindsight may be deemed quaint, when you call someone do you tell them who is calling or assume the technology has filled the gap?)
In an ANT exploration of networks it is possible for work that is visible to be shown as well as providing space where tensions can also be acknowledged.
With reference to John Laws pinboard approach to an ANT analysis I must go add to my whats invisible, where the known world ends, and
'here be dragons'...

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