Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Hot on the heels of mobilage, you could be forgiven for thinking I actually like making up new words for the sake of it but sometimes it does help my thinking... keeping it on track... So, here's another one... mobent... as in, to 'have a mobent'. This word attempts to describe the familiar experience of that moment when you are entangled, perhaps just staring, into your phone because it's not working as expected. I suppose a colloquial example would be 'buffer face', as in the celebrated adverts for a mobile network featuring Kevin Bacon. I'll save you any attempt to link networked learning and 'six degrees of separation'... Here's the back-story to mobent which I have been writing up today:
"Heidegger refers to two modes of relation between dasein and the tools at their disposal. His classic example is of a shoemaker’s hammer in use. Most of the time, the shoemaker is unaware of the hammer, it is ‘ready-to-hand’, zuhanden. If the hammer breaks, the ‘spell’ is also broken and the shoemaker becomes aware of the hammer in a different way, reflecting on it as an object ‘present-at-hand’, vorhanden. This dichotomy is sharply challenged when applied to a phone:
  • "The extensive and extending range of uses to which the phone may be put and ongoing innovation in mobile technologies and app development together with a society-wide growing awareness of the significance of mobile means that the phone can increasingly be incurred in almost any activity, regardless of whether that activity is shared on social media using the phone.
  • "The extended stack of technologies upon which use relies for its fulmination. For example, mobile phones are designed to accommodate variations in Internet connectivity. This is dependent on many factors, such access to effective infrastructure which is itself in constant need of maintenance, subject to ‘legacy effects’ (additional work required to sustain aging technologies, borrowed from ecology (Cuddington, 2011)), and the pressures of responding to industry-wide innovation.
  • "Industry has a commercial interest in encouraging greater uptake and use of their products and Internet connectivity enables smartphone companies to gather user data and use this to inform and target marketing communications into every handset.
  • "Phone notification systems are complex, with many apps offering reasons and means to alert users and thence hold their attention.
"At the least, we should note the phone’s greater propensity for oscillation, albeit of varying severity, between zuhanden and vorhanden. In another reference to Actor Network Theory, dasein can easily become entangled in this oscillation, to the extent that vorhanden becomes the ‘ordinary everyday’, as if the hammer were continually asserting itself into consciousness. To capture this idea of mobile entanglement, I have coined the blend word mobent which also chimes with the experience of hiatus such moments incur. I want to also make a cultural reference in the sense that ‘having a moment’ is a private affair between two individuals characterised by a raised, likely piqued, emotion. "
I'll get around to explaining myself at a better sound level now I've got a USB-C OTG cable for my phone. My next appearance is at the SOCSI education seminar 1pm 17/1/2018.

Cuddington, Kim. ‘Legacy Effects: The Persistent Impact of Ecological Interactions’. Biological Theory 6, no. 3 (1 September 2011): 203–10.

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