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The Case of the Disappearing Phone: Implications of Google Glass for the Embedding of Mobile Communication

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The Case of the Disappearing Phone: Implications of Google Glass for the Embedding of Mobile Communication

LIVING
INSIDE
MOBILE
SOCIAL
INFORMATION
Edited by
James E. Katz
Division of Emerging Media Studies
College of Communication
Boston University
Living Inside Social Mobile Information
Copyright © 2014 by Trustees of Boston University
All rights reserved.
Published and Printed by Greyden Press.
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tocopied, recorded, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the
author.
ISBN 978-1-57074-128-9
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Printed in the United States of America
Published and Printed By:
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23
2
e Case of the Disappearing Phone:
Implications of Google Glass for the
Embedding of Mobile Communication
by
Scott W. Campbell, University of Michigan
Joseph B. Bayer, University of Michigan
Rich Ling, IT University of Copenhagen, University of Michigan
e aim of this chapter is two-fold. First, we will introduce a
new theoretical framework for understanding the structural role
of mobile communication in contemporary social life. Actually,
the framework advanced here is not entirely new. As we explain,
it is an expansion of Ling’s (2012) recent theory building on the
embedding of mobile communication, resulting in its “taken-for-
grantedness.” Starting from a macro-sociological standpoint, Ling’s
perspective oers a new way of understanding the consequences
of mobile communications embeddedness at the societal and
collective levels. In this chapter, we attempt to expand this
perspective to account for recent changes in human orientation
toward mobile communication at the cognitive level. In that sense,
we are essentially attempting to bridge the gap between sociology
24 Living Inside Social Mobile Information
and psychology, oering a synthesized model of how the embedding
of mobile communication has not only altered the structure of
society, but also worked its way into conscious and unconscious
cognitive processes that underlie human behavior. With that
framework in place, we will then segue into the second major goal
of this chapter, which addresses the implications of wearable head-
mounted display communication technologies for embeddedness
at the social and psychological levels. We are particularly interested
in highlighting the ways this new, or at least expanded, theoretical
integration can provide guidance in identifying and developing
areas of inquiry. Using Google Glass as a case study, we apply
the new framework for theorizing how key aordances may have
distinctive implications for the way people relate to the technology,
each other, and society.
Embeddedness of Mobile Communication:
from a Sociological Perspective
e process of embedding refers to the way that mobile
communication as a distinctive form of social mediation has
worked its way into and throughout daily life as it achieved
critical mass (in the absolute sense). e social ecology has been
fundamentally adjusted to accommodate the central role that
mobile communication now plays in coordination, expression,
and, increasingly, the exchange of information and digital content.
As this process of embedding takes place, users become more
attached to the technology, even bound to it (Vincent 2006). ey
also expect others to feel the same way, particularly with regard to
heightened expectations of accessibility. Ling (2012) advances “e
Katz Principle” to make this point. Here, he credits James Katz
(2008) with observing that if someone is not available via mobile
communication, it has now become our problem, whereas not long
ago it was mainly just their problem. As these shared expectations
become structurally embedded, mobile communication—as a
social practice—is increasingly taken for granted (Ling 2012).
is conceptualization of embedding helps explain the evolution
of mobile communication from something new to something nice
to have, to a fundamental expectation. ese “moments” of change
resonate with the domestication framework, which identies key
e Case of the Disappearing Phone 25
transitional periods of technology adoption and use for analytic
traction in considering the meaning and consequences of new
media in a given context, such as a household or network (Haddon
2003; Silverstone and Haddon 1996; Silverstone, Hirsch, and
Morley 1992). Drawing from Max Weber, Emile Durkheim and
others in the sociological tradition, Ling’s perspective widens the
lens to examine broader structural changes throughout society and
social collectives. Families now rely on mobile communication
as essential to the coordination of domestic aairs and tethering/
untethering of children to/from parents (Ling 2004, 2005). In the
context of business, mobile communication is now integral to both
getting and performing jobs. Whereas this used to be primarily the
case for high-level executive types, evidence from teens interviewed
in focus groups indicates it has also seeped down to lower-level,
part-time wage earners (Lenhart, Ling, Campbell, and Purcell
2010). Mobile communication is a primary player on the political
stage as well, most obviously in the coordination of protests and
revolution (e.g., Hussain and Howard 2012; Rheingold 2008).
Perhaps not so obvious is the way mobile communication has also
become central to political discourse and engagement in (relatively)
stable democracies (e.g., Campbell and Kwak, 2010; 2012). e
truth is, mobile communication has become a rather mundane
part of these and other stages where social life is carried out. is is
not to suggest that it is not important—quite the contrary, in fact.
Rather, it has become so embedded into society that it is now taken
for granted.
By way of analogy, Ling compares the embeddedness of mobile
communication to that of mechanical timekeeping and automotive
transportation, two other resources for social mediation that were
once revolutionary, but are now dicult to live without. Imagine
a person who does not recognize the social construct of time; the
individual could hardly function as a member of society. Although
less ubiquitous than mechanical timekeeping, automotive
transportation (whether it be car, bus, train, or otherwise) is also a
core necessity for many individuals throughout the world. Without
access to these structural aspects of society, many individuals would
completely fall through the cracks of shared social order. is would
not only be their problem, but the problem of other individuals
(and institutions) that wish to recognize them as part of the social
26 Living Inside Social Mobile Information
order. Here we see how the Katz Principle applies to other core
resources for social mediation as well.
Up to this point, we get a sense of what position mobile
communication occupies in society and how it has developed
from something new to something highly fundamental in many,
if not most, contexts of daily life. Along with this transition
come heightened expectations for accessibility, and mobile
communications emergence as a taken-for-granted means of social
mediation. Ling argues that these developments represent new—
or at least newly shifted—contours of social structure. To be sure,
people have always had expectations for accessibility that have
fueled the development and use of new systems of communication.
So these expectations themselves are not new, but the degree to
which they can be satised in the moment is new. Mobile phones
make us individually addressable: whereas one used to call
somewhere to reach someone, we now call (or text) people instead of
places (Ling 2008; Ling and Donner 2009; Wellman et al. 2003).
Unlike xed and portable technologies, mobile devices support the
ow of information and communication while physically moving
about and/or engaging in the business of daily life activity. It is
this potential for immediate, even ambient (Ito and Okabe 2005),
access to others that makes mobile communication a distinctive
form of social mediation with unique ramications for shared
expectations of accessibility (Campbell 2013).
Embeddedness of Mobile Communication:
Toward a Psychological Perspective
Ling’s argument about embeddedness draws heavily from
sociology, and is therefore particularly useful for thinking about
changes in the social structure of collectives and society. We consider
this to be a promising framework for understanding implications
of mobile communication not only at the collective level, but at the
psychological level as well. e core argument we will attempt to
develop here is that the embeddedness of mobile communication
at the collective level is integrated with embeddedness at the
psychological level, which has implications for how people orient
to the technology and to each other.
e Case of the Disappearing Phone 27
We see both parallels and intersections between the sociological
and psychological domains of embeddedness. Along with
heightened expectations for accessibility comes a shift in orientation
toward mobile communication. As it becomes embedded into our
communication and information networks, so too does it become
embedded in the self—indeed, as a part of the user (Campbell
2008). Our argument is that this movement toward embeddedness
not only alters how we think about mobile communication as a
form of social mediation, but also the extent to which we think
about it at all.
As it moves into the realm of the mundane, mobile
communication shifts from the front to the back of the mind;
it becomes second nature, like checking one’s watch. Although
not always at the forefront, it is always there, like mechanical
timekeeping (Farman 2012). It has become an important part of
the self in the sense that it mediates an increasing amount of the
social experiences through which the self is constructed. From a
symbolic interactionist perspective, there is no self without others.
In that sense, the self is a social construct. But it is also supported by
cognitive processes associated with one’s relationships, as suggested
by psychological theory on the “relational self” (Chen et al. 2006).
Because mobile communication has become so ingrained in how
we are connected, it has also become entrenched into the cognitive
processing that supports connectedness. In that sense, heightened
expectations for accessibility at the collective level translate into the
embedding of mobile communication into the cognitive processes
underlying social behavior. is is evident in the focus groups for
a Pew project (Lenhart et al. 2010), where participants discussed
reexively checking their device when it beckons, looking down at
the screen throughout the day for the time, and routinely checking
it immediately upon waking, to catch up on messages received
overnight. Much of this is done without a lot (if any) thought. e
technology can even trigger an automatic reaction without doing
anything, evidenced by “phantom vibrations” where individuals are
mistakenly cued to check their phone (Drouin et al. 2012). Such
phenomena illustrate how an orientation toward embeddedness
and heightened expectations for accessibility has burrowed its way
into the subconscious domain of cognition.
28 Living Inside Social Mobile Information
Extending the perspective of embeddedness from the realm of
sociology to that of psychology is an ambitious undertaking that
will involve both small steps and big leaps. In order to take one
step in that direction, we will oer an explanation for a puzzling
behavior—texting while driving—that helps bridge the sociological
principles of embeddedness into the psychological domain. In
that sense, we are treating texting while driving as one “case” that
illustrates how mobile communication has become an embedded
social practice for the self as well as society.1 Texting while driving
is by no means the only meaningful outcome of embeddedness;
however, the occurrence of mediated communication even in
the midst of high-speed trac highlights an example of extreme
embeddedness—something that wearable technologies hope to
achieve at all times.
Texting while driving has become a serious matter of public
safety. Research indicates that chances of an accident can go up as
much as 2,300% when the driver is texting (Angell and Flanigan
2011; Drews, Yazdani, Godfrey, Cooper, and Strayer 2009). Many
studies in this area have focused on the eects of texting while
driving, usually with an emphasis on the extent to which it impairs
drivers and contributes to trac accidents. Less research, however,
has been done to explain this behavior. e handful of studies that
do try to elucidate texting while driving primarily address it from
a psychological perspective, with emphasis on mechanisms located
in the conscious realm of cognitive processing, such as explicit
attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control (PBC)
(Atchley, Atwood, and Boulton 2011; Nemme and White 2010;
Walsh, White, Hyde, and Watson 2008; White, Hyde, Walsh, and
Watson 2010; Zhou, Rau, Zhang, and Zhuang 2012; Zhou, Wu,
Rau, and Zhang 2009).
Recent research has shifted attention toward mechanisms in the
less conscious realm of cognitive processing, starting with Nemme
and White’s (2010) suggestion that texting while driving may be
1 Because denitions can vary, it is worth clarifying that our own conceptual-
ization of “texting” encompasses the range of text-based engagements through
mobile telephony, including text-based interaction with others (e.g., SMS and
social media updates) and interfacing with the device to access and browse con-
tent.
e Case of the Disappearing Phone 29
related to habitual tendencies. ey based this idea on the nding
that high frequency of texting was a stronger predictor of this
behavior than attitudes or norms. Mere frequency, however, does
not dierentiate between conscious and unconscious cognitive
processing, which is vital in measuring habit (Gardner 2012; LaRose
2010; Verplanken 2006, 2010). To rectify this shortcoming, Bayer
and Campbell (2012) conducted a follow-up study with measures
that extricate how an individual texts (more or less automatic) from
how much an individual texts (more or less common). As predicted,
the “automaticity” (Bargh 1994) side of habit was a signicant
predictor of texting while driving even while controlling for overall
frequency. e bottom line here is that to understand the state
of mobile communication in everyday life, we must look beyond
conscious considerations and intentions and also account for the
less conscious processes that fuel this behavior.
is discovery that texting while driving is at least partially
driven by automaticity resonates with our growing understanding
of media habits (e.g., LaRose, 2010). According to LaRose (2010),
much of our media consumption is habitual. ose kinds of
media behaviors, such as channel surng, start out as conscious
attempts to achieve a short-term goal—in this example, to avoid
commercial advertisements. Over time, these immediate outcome
expectations feed into more latent, long-run outcome expectations.
ese long-run expectations translate into habit strength (or degree
of automaticity), which then translates into media consumption
behavior through contextual cues that trigger them. Put dierently,
media behavior lies on a continuum ranging from conscious to
unconscious action. Over time, when immediate goals generate
sustained expectations, people develop routinized patterns in their
mobile communication that rest more on heuristics than conscious
thought (Oulasvirta et al. 2012).
Cues are how habitual processes take o. And mobile devices,
in particular, oer a wide range of opportunities to generate cues.
Most obviously, there are cues within the technology itself when
it beckons through ringing, chirping, vibrating, ashing, etc.
Beyond that, there are also environmental and emotional cues
associated with the technology. For example, during the Pew focus
groups mentioned above, teens reported instances of reexively
taking a picture or texting a friend in response to something they
30 Living Inside Social Mobile Information
encountered in their physical environment or experienced as an
emotional state. Because the technology can go to virtually any
place and can be used at practically any time, it has become an
important part of not only the user’s identity, but also the social and
environmental ecology. Consequently, there are many sources of
cues that can trigger mobile-mediated habitual behavior (Bayer and
Campbell 2012)—and these processes depend on the technological
dimensions, or aordances, of communication devices.
We treat the research presented above as supporting evidence
for the overarching theoretical proposition in this chapter: just as
mobile communication has shifted from a foreground artifact of
attention to an embedded part of social structure, so too has it
shifted from the foreground toward the background of cognitive
processing. While this demonstrates a pattern of parallel movement
across sociological and psychological fronts, mobile communication
also intersects these two fronts in a chicken-and-egg cycle of mutual
inuence between social behavior and cognitive processing. It is this
intersection between these two that calls for an interdisciplinary
framework that bridges both streams of theory.
So far we have introduced our interdisciplinary framework
regarding embeddedness and then applied it to help solve one of the
puzzles that researchers and policymakers have been grappling with
in recent years (i.e., explaining texting while driving). We believe
our arguments about social and psychological embeddedness have
utility not only for explaining past behavior, but for considering
the social implications of what is on the horizon as well. In other
words, we believe our propositions about the integration of
embeddedness across social and psychological levels can help guide
future research on emergent trends, in addition to helping explain
existing ones. To develop this part of our argument, we shift our
attention from the existing “case of texting while driving to the
emerging “case” of heads-up mounted displays—in particular,
Google Glass. We see Google Glass not as the innovator of the new
heads-up form factor (e.g., Epson’s product), but rather as a specic
case of something on the horizon that scholars and the popular
press are beginning to grapple with.2 Synthesizing the arguments
2 At the time of this writing, Google Glass was still on the horizon, with only
a handful of individuals having sampled the product before its release in the
marketplace.
e Case of the Disappearing Phone 31
above, we propose that a starting point for this task is to consider
what new possibilities Google Glass has to oer for embeddedness,
in both the socionormative and psychological domains.
When the Phone Disappears:
e Case of Google Glass
As noted above, it is dicult to say whether Google Glass will
translate into a revolutionary change in mobile communication
for the larger population of users. It may only take root among
certain subgroups of users and/or serve as an added layer that is
weaved into other mobile communication devices and practices.
According to Ling (2012), in order for a technology to achieve
“taken-for-grantedness,” it must rst reach a critical mass of users.
Beyond that, adoption is legitimized through a system of shared
beliefs, diusion of the technology changes the social ecology, and
reciprocal expectations are developed for its use. us, it is dicult
to forecast Google Glass’s potential to nd its own unique place as
a taken-for-granted means of social mediation. To us, though, that
is not really the important question. From our perspective, Google
Glass—as a form of mobile communication, more broadly—is
already part of a larger communication system that has achieved
this state. To us, the more interesting question is how Google
Glass, and its distinctive aordances, present new dynamics to the
embeddedness of mobile communication at the socionormative
and psychological levels. As we will discuss, there are aspects of
Google Glass that seem to resonate with the movement toward
greater embedding, while also having the potential to alter the very
nature of embeddedness.
From an aordances perspective (Norman 2002), Google Glass
oers a distinctive set of characteristics that create new possibilities
for embeddedness in social and psychological processes. Ling
(2004) characterizes aordances as a theoretical perspective that
lies somewhere between social and technological determinism.
As a framework for understanding social implications, it places
emphasis on the characteristics of a given medium without going
so far as proposing those characteristics determine behavior. Rather
than determining user conduct, characteristics of the medium (i.e.,
its aordances) create new possibilities for it. e possibilities
32 Living Inside Social Mobile Information
introduced by Google Glass are distinct from those associated with
more traditional forms of mobile communication – from basic
feature phones to smartphones. Just as the aordances of traditional
mobile devices have helped shape embeddedness and expectations
for accessibility (to others and now, increasingly, to content), it
is likely that the distinctive aordances of Google Glass and the
user interface may lead to new dimensions of embeddedness. Our
interest here is with the key aordances that comprise the unique
interface—involving visual, voice, and gesturing—and the ways
they introduce new dynamics for embeddedness at the social and
psychological domains.
One of the most notable aordances of Google Glass is the
visual integration. Whereas the user’s eyes track the screen of
a smartphone, Google Glass tracks the scene in front of them,
essentially serving as a third eye that captures the user’s visual
experience in order to share it with others or saves it to experience
again later. Just as the technology keeps an eye on the physical
environment, the user keeps an eye on the mediated environment
with a small display that is implanted in his or her eld of vision.
e visual interface of Google Glass represents a step toward
greater integration of the mediated and physical stages of social
interaction—what some might call the online and oine worlds.
e smartphone’s aordance of visual display on a small screen
somewhat encourages removal of oneself from the world of others
around them. We are not suggesting that those small screens
cannot and do not connect users to their physical surroundings,
only that there is also an element of removal—what Gergen (2002)
terms “absent presence”—associated with focusing visual attention
down at an artifact during use. Of course there are other existing
aordances, such as voice recognition, that also lean toward a more
integrated mobile experience, but none to the extent that Google
Glass does with this distinctive form factor. Rather than requiring
the user to maintain two scopes of visual engagement, the visual
interface of Google Glass layers, even weaves, the mobile-mediated
connection with the immediate physical surroundings, and those
others who also occupy those surroundings.
is visual integration between the virtual and the physical
can be considered as movement toward greater embedding of
these two social environments. Momentum in this direction can
e Case of the Disappearing Phone 33
already be seen in the ways that young people use text messaging,
picture sharing, and even video sharing (e.g., Snapchat) as methods
of incorporating distant others into the mix of co-present social
interaction. However, by visually disengaging with the group to look
down and focus on the screen, the lines demarcating the mediated
and unmediated realms are more dened with small screens. By
consolidating the user’s visual focus, they have a more integrated,
or embedded, social experience. e embedding of the mediated
and unmediated social environments points to some potential
shifts at the socionormative level of mobile communication. One
of the notable trends coming out of the teen focus groups for the
Pew project (Lenhart et al. 2010) was that young people have
become accustomed to divided attention. ey acknowledge that
attending to their phone can be disengaging when they are with
co-present others, but it does not bother them. ey give each
other a pass” for popping in and out of absent presence. is is
a normative arrangement they have worked out socially—and, as
they noted in the focus groups, one that is not always shared by
their parents, teachers, and other older adults. e point here is that
by consolidating visual focus, the normative landscape for what is
acceptable and expected is altered. e context that gives meaning
to the very concepts of absent and present is notably dierent with
Google Glass. e dierences between these concepts become
less pronounced, making it more possible for users to have one
foot in both worlds at the same time (for better or worse). us,
Google Glass oers the potential to mitigate absent presence by
consolidating visual attention, increasing the user’s capacity to
integrate their mediated and unmediated experiences. Whether
this is actually the case, or if it might just mitigate the appearance
of absent presence, is an interesting question for future research.
In addition to those socio-normative implications, the
embeddedness of Google Glass may also present changes for the
user’s psychological orientation toward the technology. Even at
this early stage, it is not dicult to make connections between
the embedding of Google Glass and the discussion above about
the habitual aspect of mobile communication. As the technology
becomes more entrenched in the self, it moves further into second
nature. Such developments in mobile communication resonate
with the classic ideas of ubiquitous computing (Weiser 1991;
34 Living Inside Social Mobile Information
see Ling 2013), as well as more recent theory on embodiment
in mobile media (Farman 2012). Indeed, at least some level of
conscious work is reduced in that the user does not have to visually
navigate two separate social environments, but rather one that is
layered. On the other hand, the possibility of increasingly layered
communication may result in more complex practices. Enacting
a single conversation may be simpler with wearable technology,
but the management of more lines of communication with more
interlocutors may be harder in aggregate.
e layered interaction of wearable communication
technologies also points to the potential for habitual cues to
become more proximal and plentiful. As the number of cognitive
steps between them and the behavioral response is reduced, the
act of communicating is streamlined. In fact, this appears to be
one of the primary objectives of wearable technologies. One of the
Project Glass developers emphasized that one goal is to “[bring]
technology closer to your senses” (Joshua Topolsky, “I Used Google
Glass: e Future, but with Monthly Updates,e Verge, February
22, 2013). With Google Glass, habitualized use can be triggered
and then acted on without doing much more than saying a word,
taking a glance, or waving a hand. With usage over time, these
conditions may support habit acquisition to an even greater extent
than handheld devices. Beyond exaggerating the development of
less conscious processes, the aordances of this type of wearable
computing would likely increase the sheer number of cues. Due to
the scene-tracking technology of Google Glass, visual cues may now
operate on two levels: the human and the technological. A user may
prompt communication through mental cues, or the device itself
may encourage it through readings of their gaze or reminders of
interpersonal goals. us, aordances of Google Glass may interact
with automatic and taken-for-granted processes—and, in doing so,
introduce novel elicitors of interpersonal communication. In total,
as the technology moves to more of an embedded or background
experience, the balance between manifest and latent cognitive
thought is tipped toward the latter. Google Glass, then, may
accelerate the automaticity of mobile communication.
In line with the potential for new unconscious rhythms, there
is also an opportunity to consider how Google Glass is objectively
and subjectively embedded as a part of the self. e aordance
e Case of the Disappearing Phone 35
of head-mounted scene tracking means the user is not so much
looking at the mobile device, but rather through it. From the user’s
perspective, the artifact—as an object—disappears into the body.
It is now something other people look at, whereas the user looks
through it.
is movement from objective to subjective embeddedness is also
supported by other aspects of Google Glass’s dissimilar interface.
Instead of typing, users rely on oral commands and head gestures
to complement the visual component. is mix of aordances has
the obvious benet of freeing up the hands to do other things.
With Google Glass, mobile communication is more seamlessly
woven into daily life; for these users, mobile communication may
become even more a part of who they are because it requires less
attending to. Instead of looking down at a small screen while
holding the device and typing on it, users speak, gesture, and gaze
with the technology. In other words, the way people interface with
mobile communication becomes more like the way people interact
with each other: we look at, talk to, and gesture with our friends—
normally, we do not type on them.
To further illustrate this point about the subjective embedding of
Google Glass, we can think about how the oral command interface
“subjecties the mobile experience. As noted, voice recognition
platforms are already out there. Currently, two of the popular ones
are Siri and talk-to-text, so the voice recognition aspect of Google
Glass is not new. However, its usage in supporting the overall
mobile experience is what makes it novel. In fact, voice (along with
gaze and gestures) mediates the user’s total mobile experience. e
dierence between this and using it only for a particular application
is like the dierence between an operating system and a particular
software package. Voice commands mediate throughout the entire
experience; there is a lot of talking involved in the interaction
with the technology. Beyond that, the technology gets a name.
Users ask or tell “Glass” to do something. (“Okay, Glass, take a
picture.”) is particular aspect of the interface adds a distinctive
nuance to the embedding of the technology in the subjective realm
of experiencing it, while diminishing its position in the objective
realm. Traditionally, mobile communication has been discussed, in
the subjective realm, as a part of who the user is—in other words,
as a part of their identity (e.g., Campbell 2008; Walsh et al. 2011).
36 Living Inside Social Mobile Information
By naming the technology, it becomes more deeply embedded as
subject rather than object, but in a unique way from other forms
of mobile communication. rough the regular use of the name
“Glass,” the technology has a structural component that facilitates
recognition of its own subjectivity, signifying a change in how one
is psychologically oriented to mobile communication.
It is in that sense wearable communication technologies
may come to occupy the territories of self, other, and object
concurrently—raising questions about what happens when the
user takes them o. Already we know that many users feel a great
sense of discomfort without their handheld device. Some even
panic (Vincent 2006). Without over-speculating, one can imagine
a sense of nakedness when the glasses are removed (at least among
those who wear and use them regularly throughout daily life).
Moving forward, an avenue for future research is to examine how
attachment diers across technologies that are carried, as opposed
to those that are worn. Regardless, we imagine that Google Glass
and other more integrated form factors will fuel the trend toward
heightened expectations for accessibility, while also introducing
new dynamics to the relationships between self, other, technology,
and society.
To be sure, there are a myriad of ways in which one might
consider aordances, embeddedness, and social/psychological
shifts associated with Google Glass. Rather than providing a
comprehensive analysis, our aim here was to raise a few that are
particularly useful in illustrating how select principles of taken-
for-grantedness can be utilized to frame the way Google Glass
is considered and approached as an area for future research.
Drawing from Ling’s sociological perspective and extending it to
the psychological tradition opens up avenues that will be fruitful
for scholars to examine. As they do, researchers should attempt to
identify other ways in which Google Glass may become embedded
as a part of the social ecology and as part of the self. Without digging
too far into promises and perils, we point to areas in which Google
Glass and its distinctive interface may alter orientations to mobile
communication and to each other. Whether/how this is helpful/
harmful (socially and psychologically speaking) also warrants
examination. On the one hand, it is important and helpful for
social and personal artifacts to become taken for granted: as the use
e Case of the Disappearing Phone 37
of daily things becomes more heuristic in nature, our thoughts and
attention are freed up for other matters. is means that we come
to rely on our daily things to function in ways that are expected.
While this may help smooth the ow of daily life activity, there is
also the argument popularized by Sherry Turkle (2011) that we
have come to rely on our daily digital artifacts a bit too much.
In particular, Turkle contends we now are too dependent on our
communication technology and not enough on each other. If
indeed we are drifting in this direction, then Google Glass and the
embeddedness it oers would seem more likely to ow with that
drift rather than against it. is calls for future inquiry into both
the opportunities and challenges the technology brings about as
it transitions from something new to something nice to have, to
something expected—if not for society at large, then at least for
those who do incorporate Google Glass into the mix of mobile
communication.
38 Living Inside Social Mobile Information
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Author Proles
Scott W. Campbell, PhD is Associate Professor and Pohs Endowed
Professor of Telecommunications in the Department of Commu-
nication Studies at the University of Michigan. His research ex-
amines the social implications of mobile and social media, with
emphasis on the dynamics of public and private life. Professor
Campbell’s research has been published in a number of scholarly
venues including Journal of Communication, Human Commu-
nication Research, Communication Monographs, New Media &
Society and others.
Rich Ling is a professor at the IT University of Copenhagen. Ling
has a PhD from the University of Colorado in Sociology and an
adjunct position at the University of Michigan. In addition, he has
a position with the research organization of the mobile communi-
cations concern, Telenor. For the past two decades he has studied
the social consequences of mobile communication. He has written
several books in this area including e mobile connection (Mor-
gan Kaufmann, 2004), New Tech, New Ties (MIT Press, 2008)
and most recently Taken for grantedness (MIT Press, 2012). He
is also a founding co-editor of the Sage Journal Mobile media and
communication.
Joseph B. Bayer is a Ph.D. Candidate in Communication Studies
at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the psy-
chological and social processes underlying mobile and social media
use. Joes early work in this domain has been published in Com-
puters in Human Behavior and the recent edited collection Media
& Social Life, as well as featured in news outlets including Science
Daily, e Boston Globe, and e Hungton Post.
... Mobile phone embeds in (Campbell, Bayer, & Ling, 2014) and widely influences our daily life (Campbell & Kwak, 2011;Chen & Katz, 2009;Gan, 2017). Adolescence is the key period of transition from childhood to adulthood, in which individuals face with hope and challenges. ...
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