Unlike Us #3 - Social Media: Design or Decline
Session 4: Mobile Use of Social Media

Leighton Evans (UK): Buying and Selling People and Places: The Political Economy of Mobile Social Media
Conference Day #1 (22 March 2013)

The emergence of mobile phones in society has provoked theoretical and popular debate for three decades. As phone technology improves in developed markets and gains footholds in others, the possibility of a political economy of mobile phone usage becomes clearer, and while there are technological differences in the phones used, there are similarities in the commoditization of people and places. In the West, smartphone technology with GPS capability allows for databases of place to be constructed and data sold based on user generated content. In the developing world, ‘dumbphone’ technology allows for less sophisticated but equally effective commoditization of usage and location. The commoditization of place through user – generated content demands an examination of emerging power relations in light of ubiquitous mobile computational technology, and how social capital and commoditization intersect in the new media world to reconfigure the experience of place and the visibility of places to users.

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