There are over 5 billion mobile phone connections globally and a growing number of other mobile information technologies permeate all aspects of life. The more than 1 billion mobile phones in developing countries is rapidly coming close to matching the global total of 2 billion fixed Internet connections in 2008. It is estimated that 6 billion mobile phone connections will be reached by 2013. The mobile phone offers both a highly visible new technology that has found its way into everyday life and a domain for ferocious business development. The mobile phone has rapidly placed itself intimately close to a large proportion of the global population alongside keys and money. It is a technology that matters to people, and the combination of increasingly intelligent handsets, faster wireless bandwidth, and more complex server-side infrastructures (such as cloud computing), makes up for a potent globally distributed infrastructure.
My talk will report on research conducted within the mobility@lse research unit at the London School of Economics since 2000. It will present some of the main findings regarding the social and business impact of the mobile revolution, for example, the re-negotiation and daily endeavour to manage a boundary-less world by cultivating boundaries. The mobile revolution has significantly contributed to the erosion of long-established boundaries for inter-personal interaction, and as a result individuals will through their everyday life with the technology seek to resolve the resulting paradoxes. The technology that sets them free and allows for "anytime-anywhere" communication also enslaves them as they are always available. There is everywhere to go and nowhere to hide. We are still at the very early stages of this cultivation of boundaries but it will undoubtedly form a stable future aspect of everyday life at home and at work. Furthermore, the fundamental understanding of the socio-technical impacts of the mobile revolution will also be a commercial prerogative for attempts to produce successful mobile services. The mobile revolution has also broken down and redrawn commercial boundaries. Photo and film cameras are no longer purchased in camera shops but in mobile phone stores. Mobile services are no longer only produced by phone manufacturers and telecoms operators, but equally often by individual bedroom programmers, for then to be published on one of the mobile smartphone platforms. Here, boundaries were broken down and re-established under the control of different industry players. Interestingly, the distance between development and use has been greatly reduced and both the innovation system producing hundreds and thousands of mobile smartphone apps and the millions of users downloading and using them are engaged in a new order of continuously managing new boundaries and inventing new social practices.
Dr Carsten Sørensen (www.carstensorensen.com) is a leading authority on mobile information technology innovation and has the past decade studied; enterprise mobility, mobile platforms, organisational information services, and digital infrastructure innovation. Carsten lectures Information Systems and Innovation in Department of Management at The London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom. He holds a BSc. in mathematics, an MSc in computer science and a Ph.D. in information systems from Aalborg University, Denmark.
The Mobile Revolution: Cultivating Boundaries of the Unbounded