RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017

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365 Mobile lives in the digital age: implications, challenges and opportunities
Affiliation Transport Geography Research Group
Digital Geographies Working Group
Convenor(s) Billy Clayton (University of the West of England, UK)
Juliet Jain (University of the West of England, UK)
Adele Ladkin (Bournemouth University, UK)
David Kirk (Northumbria University, UK)
Chair(s) Adele Ladkin (Bournemouth University, UK)
Timetable Friday 01 September 2017, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Room RGS-IBG Drayson Room
Session abstract Technology has reshaped the experiences of corporeal mobility for those people who are digitally connected on the move. Academics have been grappling with understanding the intersection of corporeal and virtual mobility across disciplines since the 1990s and the broader social impacts of being continuously connected. With smaller mobile devices, and an exponential growth in different communication platforms, the boundaries between domains such as home, work, and leisure have blurred for good and bad. This growth in mobile device ownership and desire for continuous connection has implications for digital service providers, travel providers and the broader tourism and hospitality industry (e.g. hotels, cafes and destination locations). At the same time others are considering ways of digitally disconnecting, raising the question whether travel should be such an opportunity. Issues of gender and age are also implicit in these debates, especially who travels and who uses digital media, and how travel is validated in the digital world.
This session will aim to bring together three areas of corporeal mobility to discuss the implications, challenges, and opportunities of being simultaneously physically and digitally mobile for individuals, society, and/or infrastructure/service providers. These three are:

• mundane and routine travel (e.g. commuting and shopping)
• travel in the context of work whether travel for work (e.g. business trips) or travel as work (e.g. drivers, sailors, and pilots)
• leisure travel.
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2017@rgs.org
Mobile lives in the digital age: The intimate, emotional and haptic geographies of everyday wayfinding with my iPhone
Ainsley Hughes (The University of Newcastle, Australia)
Location-aware technologies such as GPS and smartphones are integral to everyday, mundane navigational practices or ‘wayfinding’. The personalisation, portability and popularity of these devices means that wayfinding can be accomplished with near-instant access to place-based information. But how do people connect to these devices in more intimate, emotional, and haptic ways? To address this question, this paper draws on my auto-ethnographic fieldwork involving wayfinding devices, using a series of iPhone navigation apps. In this paper, I will present short narratives exploring the corporeal realities created as I used the apps and connected to my device through the sensory registers of talk and touch. These stories are revealing of the ways I personified my iPhone as a silent companion during my journeys. In addition, some of the apps required me to share my location with others in my life, illustrating how these technologies foster connections between people and co-create spatial knowledge. In reflecting on these stories, I will highlight the challenges and opportunities that come from finding appropriate methodologies to explore how changing technologies impact our mobile lives, and the multiple and messy ways they help us to connect to the world around us.
The indispensable device. Or how daily mobility strategies are adapted by mobile phones in Santiago de Chile
Paola Jiron (Universidad de Chile, Chile)
The number of mobile phone devices in use in Chile today is almost as many as its population. Growth in mobile technology has been exponential over the years, and this has inevitably and profoundly impacted everyday living and particularly daily mobility. The use of mobile phone applications in Santiago include, among many others, Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Waze as well as local applications that can inform with incredible detail daily travel in this Metropolitan city. The incessant juggle to coordinate daily life has become exacerbated by the proliferation of such applications, making daily travellers today wonder how they ever managed without the school parents’ Whatsapp group, traffic details with routes to avoid, collaborative applications that inform real time location of fare inspectors in order to avoid payment, or simple photographs that show the derelict state of Transantiago buses as a form of citizens protest. Many adults mention the difficulties of keeping up with technology, creating dependence on their children to teach them how to use it, at least the minimal steps. Others are avid users, creating new uses as changing circumstances demand. A constant observation is the way mobile phones have become an extension of travellers’ bodies, incessantly and creatively adapting and adopting daily mobility strategies. Based on recent ethnographic research, the paper will present different uses of mobile phone applications in Santiago today, by interdependent parents, mobile workers, migrants, young women, older men, and discuss ways in which transport authorities and particularly Smart City advocates can learn from urban travellers collaborative mobile intelligence to improve mobility experiences in cities today.
Technologies and the Representations of Mobility Spaces of Elderly People
Ondrej Mulicek (Masaryk University, Czech Republic)
Zdenek Stachon (Masaryk University, Czech Republic)
Technologies, in their various forms, mediate the encounters between individuals and the lived time-space. Mobile phones equipped with GNSS devices, advanced transport technologies and other technologies dramatically change the ways in which the space (and time) is conceptualized, represented and embedded into the societal practices. The paper however aims to go beyond the grand narratives of emerging techno-society; it explores spatiotemporal practises of elderly people that are not the mainstream part of technologies users. A particular attention is paid to the role of digital technologies in negotiating and representing the spaces of routine everyday movements. The research questions can be thus formulated as follow: What types of (digital) technologies do elderly people use? What is their function within the daily or weekly spatial routine (travelling to shop, to the family or to the doctor, walking, etc.) taking place in more or less known urban environment? What kinds of spatial representations are produced by different modes of usage? The emphasis is put more on the micro-scale of the mundane mobility. Employing the qualitative research methods, we aim to give the examples of the mobility patterns and representations co-mediated by (digital) technologies.
Connected by rail: a study of internet use on the train
Juliet Jain (University of the West of England, UK)
Billy Clayton (University of the West of England, UK)
Caroline Bartle (University of the West of England, UK)
The UK government expects all GB passenger train operators to provide free internet to passengers with new train franchises obliged to provide a minimum standard of free WiFi to all. By 2018 90% of rail passengers will have access to free WiFi. The Minister of State for Digital & Culture has promised 1 gigabit per second on key intercity routes by 2021. However, other government incentives aim to increase 4G and 5G connectivity in urban areas and along transport routes. This paper will explore why free WiFi is currently important and question its future as society moves into a post-WiFi era.

The arguments will be drawn from evidence from a collaborative research partnership with Chiltern Railways, who have been trialling different levels of free WiFi to its customers. The paper will explore how passengers connect to the internet (free WiFi or personal mobile data), the value of connecting to the internet on the move, and the practices for maintaining continuous connection. It will also set out the types of internet based activities. Evidence will be drawn from surveys, qualitative interviews, and other network data. In conclusion it will reflect on the implications of expectations for continuous connectivity.
“The world is not your oyster”: the mediatization of work and belonging in mobile academic settings
Jenny Jansdotter (Karlstad University, Sweden)
Parallel to digitalization, academia has evolved into a transnational field (Bourdieu) following a neo­liberal logic where the increasing demands of connectivity, flexibility, speed and productivity privileges nomadic work-life practices. Scholars often move their geographical home for shorter or longer or unknown periods of time in pursue of a career. They also conduct a lot of micro traveling – leaving the academic’s family uprooted or behind or in uncertainty and constant flux. Also, with mobile technology work bleeds into and seamlessly meshes with private time and space, to de-differentiation. In this paper, the media use, connectivity and connectedness of a qualitative sample of prominent and globally mobile scholars, is scrutinized nexus of and between 1) work satisfaction and levels of stress, and, 2) family advantages and trade-offs. Hereby the emotional ambiguity of managing a mobile lifestyle is problematized. As academic work is largely affective, and travelling itself nourishes wanderlust and associations to a “global home”, work-related issues often tend to overshadow private ones. It is shown that the media both facilitate and impair career and family life. Redefinitions of home, belonging and intimacy are made as pertaining to relational spaces – of and in between the physical “here and now” and the media.