May 27, 2005 – Mizuko Ito: “Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life”

Friday, May 27 / 4 PM / Oakes Mural Room

Ever since NTT Docomo launched its i-mode mobile internet service in 1999, Japan has had an international leadership role in the wireless revolution. Now mobile phones are a ubiquitous and essential part of Japanese life, not only for business people and youth, but across the social spectrum. The focus of the talk will be on ethnographic case studies of how mobile messaging and camera phone usage are embedded in the social networks and cultural ecologies of Japanese youth. The central argument is that current trends in mobile media point to a significant shift in the role of information and communication technology, a role that is more pervasive, lightweight, personal, and pedestrian, in contrast to the PC-centered uses that have dominated in the U.S.

Mizuko Ito is Research Scientist at the Annenberg Center for Communication, University of Southern California, and Visiting Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Media and Governance at Keio University in Japan. She is an anthropologist of technology use, and has done fieldwork on after-school computer clubs, mobile phone users in Tokyo, internet gaming sites, and other real and virtual locations. Her edited volume (with Daisuke Okabe and Misa Matsuda), Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life, will be published this year by MIT.

Sponsored by the Hybrid Media Research Cluster