Tuesday, October 20, 2009

an archeology of the mobile phone

These great vintage advertisements clearly demonstrate that there has always been a market for making phones personal (size and colour matter).

The intent has always been to be more accessible; to communicate more rather than less.
And what's inside the box getting harder and harder to fathom. Blackboxing (a Latourian phrase) the innards makes replication and therefore competition more difficult? In conjunction with the demands for small, portable, multitasking on microchips that makes it all too intricate to fathom.

With multitasking Bell and Motorola have come a long way :)

And that's just a part of it, as there are the assemblages behind the assemblages, most times such concerns are hidden from consciousness until there is a 'need to know' a breakdown or a justification for charges, for costs...

....the telecommunications network grew with lines...cabling...operators...resistors...capacitors....transistors...phone jacks... power sources...power optic cabling...transmitters...
Such telephone networking required significant work and a vast hinterland of historical advances to move from there to here. 'An ant account draws attention to the negotiations that needed to occur for a stable assemblage to be formed.... as patterns are laid down, grooves formed, a kind of template is created which also limits, proscribes, {contains, constrains, constructs} what can come next (Bigum & Rowan 2004).
Clay Spinuzzi has this well covered in his book, Network. The competition between US providers is a fascinating read well supported by the Machiavellian analysis lent from actor-network theory.
Spinuzzi describes the 'accretion of sediments'. In what has gone before, the laying down of grooves makes particular contingencies more and less likely. Competition between service providers is hugely difficult where one company owns the lines and wouldn't share without threat of Government interventionism. Duplicating such a network is a nigh impossibility. Issues of scale make it financially viable to compete only in areas of high population density. And then along came competition that circumnavigates the high transmission costs; microwave towers can go from here to there without the maintenance costs of lines, linesmen.... Cell phones then evolve.

Change comes in increments that have discernible traces.

Bigum, C., & Rowan, L. (2004). Flexible learning in teaching education: myths, muddles and models. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 32(3), 213-226.
Spinuzzi, C. (2008). Network: Theorizing Knowledge Work in Telecommunications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

No comments:

Post a Comment