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Tantalisingly Close

Tantalisingly Close: An Archaeology of Communication Desires in Discourses of Mobile Wireless Media

Imar O. de Vries
Series: MediaMatters
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Tantalisingly Close
    Book Description:

    While studies of mobile wireless communication devices usually focus on their social implications, De Vries proposes to venture into a more historical and comparative direction to shed light on our preoccupation with them in the first place. He constructs an archaeological view of the development of communication technologies over the past 200 years, providing a comprehensive account of how persistent hopes and beliefs have come to give mobile wireless media such a prominent position today. Our expectations and uses of them are surprisingly similar to those of older media; consequently, they reconfirm the idea that living in an 'anyone, anything, anytime, anywhere' world is both a blessing and a curse, and that the desire for sublime communication is a tragic yet highly powerful regulative principle in our media evolution. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1491-5
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Preface and acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-10)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 11-24)

    In 1999, Japanese mobile communications giant NTT DoCoMo created Vision 2010, a corporate strategy aimed at countering the effects of a slowing growth of the market at the time. The project was framed in a familiar, tried-and-tested manner: by portraying the contemporary state of mobile communications as one that served user demands well but would inevitably run into problems with an expected increase in the consumption of information, a necessity of progress towards a better future presented itself. In a press release that announced its lofty intentions, the company clearly was not afraid to allude to a command over supernatural...

  5. Part I Venturing into the Familiar Unknown

    • 1. Discourses of progress and utopia
      (pp. 27-56)

      In order to construct a theoretical framework for a macro-scale perspective on idealised ideas of communication in the ongoing development of media, it will first be necessary to examine the nature and functioning of hopeful expectations, utopian myths, and beliefs in progress. This will not result in an exhaustive overview of the body of work done on utopian thought, as a vast amount of literature has already been written on this topic.¹ The historical account that I construct here will serve to describe the various ways in which longings for a sublime state have expressed themselves through time, so that...

    • 2. Communication ideals, communication woes
      (pp. 57-84)

      Echoing the central question that communication theorist John Durham Peters critically assesses in his bookSpeaking into the air(1999), what exactly do we think is so wrong with communication that it needs to be fixed all the time? Why is it that, while the general experience of communication in everyday life can reveal itself to be a complex but also a rewarding process of self-affirmation, knowledge gathering, or social bonding, there remains a poignant longing for an overall improvement of communication – one that underlies communication theories, managerial efficiency recommendations, marriage counsellors’ advice, anecdotes of communication gone wrong, and, last...

  6. Part II Where Angels Speak

    • 3. The rise… and rise of media technology
      (pp. 87-124)

      So far in this book, the focus has been on how the search for hope and purpose and its accompanying narratives create progressive and utopian agendas, which subsequently inform the creation and preservation of idealised yet paradoxical ideas of communication. It is now time to see how this all relates to technology, and how we can understand it as a myth-oriented domain in its own right. That is, we will tap into the fantastic discourses that have continuously surrounded communication technologies, regenerating and maintaining the idea that new media bring us closer to truly coming together and understanding each other....

    • 4. Mobile communication dreams
      (pp. 125-162)

      Today, gathering from industry and user accounts, the utopian desire for improved communication is fulfilled to the fullest yet by mobile communication devices. Great expectations for what they can do to make our lives better than ever before – palpably visible in advertisements and press releases but also disguised in how users motivate their wireless communication behaviour – invariably rely on the familiar adage that new technologies will finally solve old problems. The devices have become extremely widespread in a very short time, and are represented as the seemingly logical, natural, and inevitable outcomes of the ideology of improved communication: unlike any...

  7. Epilogue
    (pp. 163-168)

    In 2006, the 14-year-old Dutch high school student Serena Croes asked Anne Geelen, a television director of children’s programmes, if she would be interested in making a documentary about the many ways in which people communicate these days, and whether all the various means of communication such as email, text messaging, chat software, notes, and telephone calls actually helped in improving our understanding of each other. Geelen agreed, and for a few days she followed Serena with her camera, recording conversations with friends and parents, and interviewing Serena at home. As it turned out, Serena, as adolescents are prone to...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 169-186)
  9. References
    (pp. 187-206)
  10. Index
    (pp. 207-214)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-216)