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"There's an app for that" - women and mobile technology

Frizzo-Barker, J. & P. A. Chow-White 2012. ‘There’s an App for That’ Mediating mobile moms and connected careerists through smartphones and networked individualism. Feminist Media Studies 12, 580–589 (available on-line: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2012.741876, accessed 21 December 2012).
Abstract
The ubiquitous use of mobile smartphones and Internet-based applications commonly known as "apps," can be viewed as simultaneously empowering and constraining for women's experiences and identities due to their potential to foster "always on" forms of sociability in both public and private spheres. We conduct in-depth interviews with women who daily use smartphone apps to understand how they use and make meaning through social media and popular apps to do with parenting (using the "Total Baby" app), fitness ("Runmeter"), finances ("Mint") and daily tasks ("Evernote") through Judy Wajcman's technofeminist approach, which suggests that people and artifacts co-evolve, and technology can facilitate and restrain gender power relations.


Overall

• Quite a short article (relatively) and with less discussion of the feminist angle than I expected – i.e. how apps help a woman/mother in her daily caring duties, but also reproduce patriarchal structures etc.

- This article contains more a number of interesting examples of app usage although nothing that I didn’t expect.

- Basically arguing that apps/smartphones get used in different ways that reflect women’s roles in society, and are integrated into their household management

• Interesting bit about a certain ‘computer logic’ [my term]

- “Smartphone apps add an additional layer of logic to the execution of daily tasks. In her ground-breaking study of computers and automation in the workplace the 1980s, Shoshana Zuboff (1988) highlights the distinction that computers “informate” tasks; that is, they produce precise information about the tasks in such a way that the data takes on a life of its own. We found evidence of how smartphone apps motivate women’s daily practices with information about their finances, health and fitness.” (p586)

--> The way in which the smartphone organises the information that it gathers (e.g. about organising calendar, details of the child’s vaccinations etc., have an effect in organising the user’s life too [though to be sure people don’t always do what the apps say, and one wonders how much the respondents are talking of ideal situations, rather than in practice forgetting to check and so on]

• Definition of apps: “small stand-alone software that connect to Internet data without using a web browser portal.” (p580)

• Notes the rapid spread of mobile technologies – overtaken fixed lines

- “over 60 percent of the worldwide population has access to wireless communication (Manuel Castells 2010)” (p580)

- “Mobile phone subscriptions surpassed 3.4 billion globally in 2008, eclipsing landline telephone connections in the early 2000s, as the most rapidly diffused among all human communication technologies in history (Castells 2010).” (p582)

• Draws upon Castells’s ‘networked society’, ‘networked individualism’, and Wajcman’s technofeminism

- “Where networked individualism depicts the freedom to connect to various community networks, technofeminism draws attention to women’s often overlooked role in cultivating and maintaining these community networks.” (pp582-3)

• Interesting tensions and guilt feelings relating to using apps/smartphone

- “paradoxical double standard—they felt guilty letting their children use a smartphone while they completed a task, and also while using their smartphones when with their children.” (p586)

• Also note that it's in a special issue that deals with feminism and new media

Please note - these are rough notes only, based on a first reading. They may be useful to someone interested in an alternative perspective on this paper.
However, these notes do not necessarily represent a final opinion, and are subject to revision in the future.

Xpax, Blackberry, Party, Future


Doing research as a blog anthropologist, I get sick of people saying, "But what's happening in 'real life'?"...

I mean, what's NOT real about talking, sharing and ranting with friends and acquaintances? Humans have been doing that since the first barbecue outside of a cave in Africa - is it more real because it's happening in a bar, at work or at school; then when it's happening while you're on the move and keeping in contact with friends around town, overseas, or at home? Does anyone ever say letters aren't 'real'?!

The point is - you can do BOTH of these! You can have a life online AND offline - each one complements the other, and that's the way the future's going to be. Get on the train (or more likely the maglev), and get with the future!

In the future, everyone is going to have presence online as well as offline. They'll even be provided by the government, and kids in playschools will be taught how to play online, just like they're taught how to cross the road safely. The technology will be portable nanocomputers, inserted under the skin and with controls directly from the brain (for example).

OK - we're not there yet :-O

But to get a feel of it you are going to need one thing - that's a smartphone, like a BlackBerry. So you can surf the net, update your social media, call your family, write emails, play games (important that one) - basically, have your own communications centre wherever you go...

OK - any blogger, tweeter or Facebooker wants to be able to chat with friends, do some IM'ing or check Facebook while they're out and about, but... you're going to be worried about the cost, right? I mean, if each tweet, IM message or Facebook update costs money, the bill is gonna be stiff right?

Well - I have to say that Xpax have a good solution here - RM1 per day for prepaid UNLIMITED ACCESS! So - load up with RM 30 at the beginning of the month and you're safe for thirty days.
Check out the details on the Xpax site. The RM1/day deal is for social networking sites - for unlimited internet surfing, etc, it's RM2.50 a day.

"No hidden clauses, no upfront payment" - sounds good enough to me :-D

So - the other problem with switching phones is changing your telephone number, right...? No - wrong! With Mobile Number Portability now available in Malaysia, you don't have to change your number anymore.

At the Xberry party the BlackBerry Curve smartphone 8520 was going at RM888, but if you hurry you can still get a special deal by going to any Blue Cube outlet: get a reload for RM50 and you'll be able to get the Blackberry for RM998, one week free access, and an imported skin.

Wait too long (after November 15) and the price will go back to RM1188.

I'm too skint at the moment even to get it at RM888, but at the Xpax Blackberry party, if I had been able to check Twitter I would have known that the prize draw was going on! And maybe won a free Blackberry!
tweet xpax blackberry party

OK you're gonna say - just pay more attention! But I was!

I was paying attention to an amazing beatboxer Shawn Lee and spotting celebrity bloggers such as Cheesie and and upcoming superblogger/journalist/allround party animal jessie ;-)
shawn lee ringo cheesie benjicajess xpax

and Flizzow couldn't be avoided...
Flizzow xpax

nor could Arabyrd
arabyrd xpax

(not to forget the trips to the VVIP section for free flow, food and dancing...)
(and meeting kruel74, dustyhawk, YapThomas, aprilyim, bernard and others who I forgot...)

So all I can say is thanks Xpax and Nuffnang for the party!

Get a a Blackberry Curve to lead your life from in front - it's your life, your number, and your future :-D
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