Mobile computing plays an increasingly important role in the way that space is experienced in the city. This has political consequences, both at the micro level of everyday production and consumption, and at the macro level of institutional and political economy. While geographers have explored the ontological role which might be played by hardware, software, data and mapping within this spatial paradigm, there remains little concerted effort to explore mobile computing as a technological system which incorporates all of these socio-technical assemblages. By drawing on adjacent disciplines of science and technology studies (STS) and media and communication studies, this essay proposes a multilayered model for such a holistic inquiry: hardware—software—data(base)—GUI (graphical user interface).
By applying this model to a self-reflexive exploration of the taxi service Hailo and the mobility tracking application Moves, I attempt to demonstrate how it might be put to work as a heuristic tool. Following on from my desire to expose and explore the politics of mobile computing, the model is used to draw attention to the networks of power which make up these mobile computing services.