ISBN 9789956727148
ePub ISBN 9789956792191
Pages 176
Dimensions 216 x 140 mm
Published 2012
Publisher Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon
Formats Paperback, eBook

Me and My Cell Phone

And Other Essays On Technology In Everyday Life

by Crystal Powell

Cell phones and the Internet have been the recipients of in-depth research on their increased and rapid integration into everyday life and the innovative appropriations associated with them in many societies. The cell phone has attracted particular attention in its perceived abilities to both enhance and destruct social relationships. Our increased access to social media and to the cell phone has taken social networking to an unprecedented level. These communication technologies are revered by many as great, all-purpose, all-positive communication devices in spite of their flaws. They are overwhelmingly bestowed with agency and superiority. Too often, they are idolized with little regard to how they affect and are affected by their users on a personal level. The mutual shaping between technology and society is not adequately acknowledged. Technologies, in spite of the seemingly endless possibilities offered by their many functions, can quite literally be sterile and useless objects outside of conscious and tangible human effort. Cell phones and the Internet, though undoubtedly capable of providing myriad beneficial opportunities for their users, need at long last to be put in their place.

This book is a contribution in that regard. Kindled by her own intimate history with her cell phone and a growing curiosity about ICTs in general, this book is a culmination of Crystal Powell’s thoughts, reactions to and interpretations of some of the literature on these technologies. The book draws on and critically reviews contributions by some leading authors on the social shaping of ICTs and social media to offer a more nuanced and complex understanding of technology in relation to those who use and are used by it.

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“Whether you love it or hate it, cell phones have become a part of everyday life, essential to our mediations of life in all its bewildering complexity. Crystal Powell’s account of the cell phone as ‘second skin’ is a grounded story of this deep relationship that we have all begun to have with this ubiquitous, personal technology. A fascinating, enlightening narrative.”

Pradip Thomas, Associate Professor, Centre for Communication & Social Change, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

“Crystal Powell’s intimate and personal accounts of the discovery of her PhD research topic – the cell phone –, in her own life and in recently published books, will certainly also attract readers less interested in academia…. Her well written essays reveal that academia could be as exciting as the introduction of the cell phone in our everyday lives.”

Mirjam de Bruijn, Professor and Senior Researcher African Studies, Leiden University, the Netherlands

About the Author

Crystal Powell

Crystal Powell is a doctoral student in the department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town. She is exploring the role of new information and communication technologies in the making of flexible identities and ideas of belonging among different categories of migrants situated in Langa Township in Cape Town, South Africa. She currently holds a MA in Social Anthropology. She is from Brooklyn, New York.

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