Thursday, July 10, 2008

breaking stuff: I think therefore iphone

This is the stuff of my research, yet another reminder to start publishing, fast.

I read the February research from two Canterbury University academics Lee Thompson and Julie Cupples, regarding spatial geography and the use of text messaging by young New Zealanders. They are cited on stuffit as saying:
"They facilitate communication among teenagers rather than destroying it. It doesn't make them avoid people; they use it to meet up"

This too is the dominant approach taken by Youthline, an entry point.
The use of texting on the lifeline lowdown website seems to provide further substance if not authority for a radically new approach. Durability is added in.
In actor-network terms this is about translation of counselling using emergent technologies. The translations I have mapped so far include how counsellors distribute counseling; different performances occur whether its in through a phone or through text or through email. Some things change, some stay the same: the strengths based model of affirming, acknowledging and inviting continue to occur. I am surprised that the skill of demonstrating empathy translates across this medium, and all in 160 characters or less, including gaps. Takes talent, and maybe some optimism. As one interviewee told me, its only 160 characters, so its hard to screw up in such little space. Seems one's glass can be half full or half empty on this. The dystopian and utopian arguments seem to prevail. An actor network approach allows a much wider picture to emerge.

Texting is a preferred medium of this generation and whether it can be more than a doorway is part of my research.
There are multiple aspects sustaining what is/isnt:
It's arguable that texting helps define the generation, a medium of choice with a language demonstrating rejection of authority or a playfulness. The 'thumb' generation.
There has been a pricing war in NZ between two major providers Telecom and Vodafone creating conditions where texting seems the only viable fiancial option for mobile phone use pertaining to young people with limited income.
There's an extension to one's connectivity, a cyborg like addition in becoming extraconnectable. Being available and being able to; an extension of the peer group that's always accessible. The cyborg like quality also adds the dimension of being inaudible, appearing invisible and perhaps, contributing to the sense of invincible.
The 'voices' I have been listening to suggest that texting provides an opening for talking when talking would be hard. An ego protective mechanism. There's also the advantage of responding in one's own time. Without the appearance of awkwardness.
And more recently there's the increasing authenticity, lent substance by more and more applications of texting whether its notification of library pickups, messages about delayed travel plans, or the increasing normalcy for communicating not only the mundane but the worrisome aspects of what it is to be. Lifeline's acceptance contributes acceptability in wider circles.
Meantime significant hidden work occurs to sustain practice. Funding is vulnerable being reliant on goodwill, a generous act of goodwill established the practice with the donated costs of not sending Simpson Grierson seasonal greetings, remarkably sunshine influences text counselling's survival with the intake potential of donations from Christmas in the park being vulnerable, and sustaining minimal costs is depenedant on major marketshare providers being seen as philanthropatic.

Whats your take on this?
While such services are shaped, what's happening to all those involved?
Meantime my infatuation with mobile technology has left me wanting.
I can afford the iphone but sadly not the ongoing costs.
Bit like my car really, still paying for the gas :(

Youthline - Changing Lives
With thanks to Simpson Grierson at Christmas time and beyond.
In lieu of sending Christmas cards Simpson Grierson continue to support Youthline's work with young people and their families across New Zealand.

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