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Mobile and Ubiquitous Media

Critical and International Perspectives


Edited By Michael S. Daubs and Vincent R. Manzerolle

What does the phrase "ubiquitous media" actually mean? Individual definitions are just as varied and ubiquitous as the media to which they refer. As a result, there is to date no large-scale theoretical framework through which we can understand the term. The goal of this volume is to provide a diverse set of critical, theoretical, and international approaches useful to those looking for a more diverse and nuanced understanding of what ubiquitous media means analytically.

In contrast to other existing texts on mobile media, these contributions on mobile media are contextualised within a larger discussion on the nature and history of ubiquitous media. Other sections of this edited volume are dedicated to historical perspectives on ubiquitous media, ubiquitous media and visual culture, the role of ubiquitous media in surveillance, the political economy of ubiquitous media, and the way a ubiquitous media environment affects communities, spaces, and places throughout the world.

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Chapter One: How We Got Here: The Technologies and Policies Behind Ubiquitous Computing and Ubiquitous Media (Laura Steckman)


chapter one

How We Got Here

The Technologies and Policies Behind Ubiquitous Computing and Ubiquitous Media

Laura Steckman


The movement toward realizing the technologies and policies behind “ubiquity” in global connectivity has been decades in the making. Ubiquity, as referred to herein, is the prevalence and pervasiveness of computing, and since the turn of the twenty-first century, media, within society. In other words, ubiquity encompasses and explains why a person located almost anywhere in the world can select among a variety of communications devices, such as a mobile phone or other portable device, at any given time and connect to the Internet or another network to send and receive data. The ability to use rapid, wireless communication did not appear overnight; rather, it required significant efforts across a wide range of individuals, corporations, and governments that applied extensive research and resources to invent and improve new and pre-existing technology. To understand this phenomenon of how global communications developed into the ubiquity paradigm, it is necessary to examine the individuals who acted as key technological innovators on the path to ubiquity alongside the technologies (including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Radio Frequency Identification or RFID, and Global Positioning System or GPS), and the socio-political implications, such as the policy and legal debates over the issues of spectrum management and encryption, which have arisen from the mass adoption of and increasing demand for wireless communications.

Computers, as devices used to produce, process,...

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