Chapter VIII Mobile IT as Immutable Mobiles?

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Exploring the Enabling

Qualities of a

Mobile IT Application

Jonny Holmström

Umeå University, Sweden

Abstract

This chapter explores the social consequences of mobile IT. Even though

the need for better theorizing on the topic has been highlighted recently,

most attempts to date have failed not only to properly explore the social

consequences of mobile IT, but also in being specific about the technology

itself in any detail. A promising approach with which to explore mobile IT

and its social consequences may be found in actor network theory (ANT).

ANT’s rich methodology embraces scientific realism in its central concept

of hybrids that are simultaneously technological and social. The advantages

of conceiving mobile IT applications immersed in and a part of a network

of hybrids are explored by drawing from a project concerned with mobile

IT use in the context of the mobile bank terminal (MBT). It was found that

the users were less than enthusiastic over the MBT, and two key problems

were identified. First, the poor design of MBT hampered the possibilities

for ad-hoc activities. Second, the users felt that ad-hoc activities could be

seen as somewhat irresponsible in the context of banking business. To this

end, the problems related to the MBT use were both social and technical.

We conclude by identifying and elaborating on some aspects of the social

consequences of mobile IT use in order to shed new light on the possibilities

and challenges that mobile IT use conveys.