It’s Not Really a Phone, Part 2

So, after years of not bothering for a variety of reasons (cost, learning curve, not wanting to get further tied to my email) I started my adventure in smart-phone land last week. And, while I know I’m not anywhere close to the first person to note a few things about it, I have a few observations. First, it’s not a phone. It doesn’t look or feel like anything I’ve ever called a phone in my life. My embodied, physical sense memory of phones is that they are shaped to fit our heads, with an earpiece and a mouthpiece. I understand that has changed, but when I pick up my new device and look at it, nothing about it physically signifies “phone” to me. And, when I make a call, I feel as if I’m holding a piece of toast up to my ear.

The sense that it is not a phone only increases the sense to me that I have purchased a hand-held computer on which I can make phone calls. When I pick it up, the first think that catches my eye is not the phone icon, but the email icon. And the first thing I look to do with it is check my email or my Twitter feed. What’s more, when I picked it out, I went with the device with the slightly larger screen because I knew I would want it big enough to be able to read articles, dissertation chapters, and the like when I was killing time in waiting rooms, etc. With this, I won’t bother with a tablet anymore (not that I was ever that fond of tablets in the first place.) So, I’m intrigued to see how the use of this portable computer shifts my reading and writing practices in the future. It can’t help but change what I do. I just have to figure out how. I’m also struck by how the mobility of the device is simultaneously virtual and physical (thanks, Brice Nordquist for that insight) and how one reinforces the other.

The final thought is how best to incorporate this technology into my seminar in the spring on “Digital Media and Composition Pedagogy.” I knew, even before getting the device, that mobile technologies had to be part of our conversation. But how? How do these devices fit into the ways that digital media make literacy mobile, malleable, collaborative, and multimodal? Is there any good scholarship yet on using mobile devices in the classroom? More to come…..

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