de Souza e Silva, A. (2022). Mapping the COVID-19 Pandemic with Mobile Devices: Grass-roots networked initiates in the Rio de Janeiro favelas. International Communication Association (ICA) conference, Mobile Communication Interest Group. May.
de Souza e Silva, A. (2022). Understanding the relationship between micromobility and mobility justice in Rio de Janeiro. International Communication Association (ICA) conference, Mobile Communication Interest Group. May.
de Souza e Silva, A., & Glover-Rijkse, R.* Developing a Mobile Games Database: Tracing interdependencies among early mobile games. Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) Annual Conference. Virtual. October. [Video]
Glover-Rijkse, R., & de Souza e Silva, A. Evolving Geographies of Mobile Communication. In P. Adams & B. Warf (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Media Geographies (pp. 161-171). New York: Routledge.
This chapter considers the evolving ways in which mobile communication technologies produce and shape experiences of spaces, focusing on three key moments: (i) the late 1990s and early 2000s, when mobile phones were widely diffused and adopted into new spaces, (ii) the emergence of smartphones in the late 2000s, along with the normalization of locations embedded with digital information, and (iii) the spread of mobile infrastructures in the second decade of the 21st century, demonstrating how these infrastructures impact communication and mobility. During this timeframe, mobile communication technologies have shaped how we experience spaces by contributing to the merging of the physical and the digital. Additionally, they have enabled users to learn about and interact with their surroundings, therefore increasing people’s connections to spaces. Increasingly, though, these technologies have also become integrated within networks of mobile infrastructures that proliferate in our everyday spaces. These infrastructures offer new resources within spaces, but they also subject the interactions and mobilities within these spaces to various forms of tracking and control. As such, we address how the how power becomes inscribed in the relations between mobile technologies, users, and spaces.
Department: Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media Ph.D. Program
Institution: NC State University
Term: Spring 2022
The rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has contributed to the growth and importance of networks. We can now speak of not only communication networks but also of financial, military, social, cultural, and political networks, to name a few. These networks, and the technologies that support them, have a profound impact on institutions, culture, identity formation, social organization, and communication practices. The rate at which new information and communication technologies are developed and the degree to which these technologies are integrated into the practices of modern society ensures the need for a constantly evolving set of theories to articulate and understand these social practices and an equally strong need for the development of new research methods to study these technologically mediated networked environments.
Critical to understand the role of networks in today’s society is a focus on how networks unfold in local and global contexts and are intertwined with mobility practices. As such, this course explores networked mobilities, as the type of movement that happens in highly connected (networked) spaces, such as smart cities, intelligent transport systems, etc. We will also study how the lack of movement (immobility) and access to networked technologies shapes cultural, social, and political practices. Rather than trying to understand the networks and technologies’ effects on people and institutions, we will develop a comprehensive analysis that understands our movement and our environments as part of networked practices. We will explore and compare a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches for studying networked mobility in local and global spaces.
The course will start with a few key broad definitions of networks and mobilities, to create context for the rest of the semester. Next, we will look at how the intersection of networked and mobile activities can lead to creative practices, and we will explore a few cases of mobile networked creativity in art and game spaces. Next, we will focus on networked urban mobilies, that is, movements that occur in technologically connected cities, with a special focus on micromobilities—and the integration of smart phones with electric bikes and scooters. We finish the course with a look at the power imbalances and uneven mobilities that necessarily arise when we are experiencing networked mobility in our everyday lives. Particular focus will be given to the idea of mobility justice and sustainable urban (networked) environments and situations where networked mobility emerges from the lack of movement (as in communities living in precarious situations) or forced movement (as is the case of forced migrants).
NC State News Podcasts: Digital Mapping and the Pandemic — an interview with Tracey Peake NCSU News. NC State University. Dec. 8th, 2021.
“Digital mapping is a versatile tool. It can be used for everything from real time navigation to tracking the course of a pandemic. Adriana de Souza e Silva is a professor of communication here at NC state who studies grassroots digital mapping projects. She recently did a study on grassroots efforts to make the pandemic visible in low income communities; specifically, in Brazil, in Rio’s favelas.”
de Souza e Silva, A., & Glover-Rijkse (2021). Developing the Retro Mobile Games Database: Tracing interdependencies among early mobile games. Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) Annual Conference. October. [Video]
de Souza e Silva, A., & Glover-Rijkse, R.* (2021). Developing a Mobile Games Database: Tracing interdependencies among early mobile games. Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) Annual Conference. Virtual. October. [Video]
Call for papers for a special issue of Mobile Media & Communication, vol. 11, no. 2 (May 2023)
COVID-19 Now and Then: Reflections on Mobile Communication and the Pandemic
Adriana de Souza e Silva (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Professor of Communication, North Carolina State University
Mai Nou Xiong-Gum (email@example.com)
Assistant Professor of Communication, Furman University
Although our history with pandemics is long, our collective memory of pandemics is short. The 1918 influenza pandemic, for example, infected almost a third of the world’s population and claimed more than 100 million lives, and yet it has been scarcely mentioned afterwards (Crosby, 2003). This tendency to forget lessons learned from pandemics is problematic because it leads to the lack of proper public funds allocation for scientific research, public health, and pandemic preparedness. In addition, with the urge to go back to “normal,” we might forget important lessons that a large-scale public health crisis might have taught us about the way we communicate and experience spaces. Understanding these lessons is especially important to mobile communication scholars since mobile communication can distribute and diffract our ability to move in the world. Mobile communication can make our movements legible, as in the examples of contact-tracing apps or of aggregating location data to visualize mobility patterns at the individual and the community level (Ekong et al., 2020).
Our experience of spaces, mediated by mobile communication devices, has also drastically changed with the pandemic. While the traditionally mobile global elites (Castells, 2000) are privileged enough to become immobile and work remotely, many low-income populations with limited access to technology or the infrastructure that supports mobile communication are forced to keep moving in order to work or to find access to these infrastructures. Noticeably, refugees and migrants, as well as low-income communities in rural or “less developed” areas in the Global North and South, developed creative forms of mobility to deal with the required immobility imposed by the pandemic (de Souza e Silva & Xiong-Gum, 2020). For example, for many people with no computer or internet connection at home, their mobile phone became the most important instrument for mobile work, connecting from home, reaching out to clients, taking orders, and paying bills. Mobile phones became systematically used as interfaces for tele-medicine, locate testing sites, and contact-tracing. For those who shelter in place, mobile applications that support delivery services for food or grocery items play a critical role in the continued circulation of goods in the growing of a mobile-guided gig economy. In locations without access to mobile communication such as signal “dead zones,” people have to travel to engage in mobile communication and in locations where others cannot travel, mobilities are outsourced. As a result, a network of mobilities emerge as our mobile capabilities inform our mobile communication capabilities and vice versa.
The COVID-19 pandemic may soon be over, but we know it won’t be the last one. Preparing for the next pandemic includes understanding the past and planning for the future. It also includes rethinking “normal” ways of interacting with others and the spaces in which we live. What else have we learned during this time of forced immobility that might challenge the traditional roles of mobile communication in our everyday lives? Will the way we experience public and domestic spaces via mobile technologies change? What are some of the more sustainable futures of urban networked mobility? How can we rethink the meanings of social interaction while immobile and at distance? And, will some of these shifts permanently stay with us and change how we communicate, play, and socialize? These are just some questions that emerge when we consider the future of mobile communication and networked urban mobility after COVID-19.
In this special issue, we are looking for future oriented pieces that analyze how the pandemic has shaped and changed our mobile communication, sociability and networked urban mobility practices around the world. We welcome papers that might take the lessons learned during this pandemic and consider how these lessons can help us in the future. We particularly welcome contributions that analyze the impacts of the pandemic in the practices of minoritized populations, especially in the Global South.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- The future of urban networked mobility in both Global North and South
- The shift to more sustainable forms of micromobiity, particularly focusing on the integration between transportation and mobile apps
- New forms of experiencing urban and public spaces via mobile technologies that take into account active mobility and walking
- The mobile-guided gig economy for delivery of services
- The development of location-based apps that can help us prepare for the next pandemic
- The future of contact-tracing apps, and their relationship with privacy and surveillance
- The shift in the nature of hybrid spaces from urban to domestic spaces
- The role of mobile augmented-reality and mobile videoconferencing for remote work
- The role of mobile communication in helping low-income and minoritized communities
Submitted articles can come from various theoretical and methodological perspectives, as long as they engage with mobile communication scholarship and focus on the future and lessons learned from the pandemic from a mobile media and communication perspective.
- Extended abstracts submission (1,000 words): 30 August, 2021
- Full papers submission (8,000 words): 1 March, 2022
- Final acceptance: 15 January, 2023
Please submit an extended abstract of no more than 1,000 words (including references) that states the paper’s main argument, contribution, and takeaway. The abstract should clearly explain how the full submission will contribute to the aims of this special issue. Please email extended abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 August 2021. Abstracts should be accompanied by a short biography for each author (approx. 200 words). Also, include the names, titles, and contact information for 2-3 suggested reviewers.
Positively reviewed abstracts (notification by 15 October 2021) will be invited to submit full articles by 1 March 2022, through http://mmc.sagepub.com. Invited submissions will undergo a blind peer-review process following the usual procedures of Mobile Media & Communication. The special section will be published in Volume 11, no. 2 of Mobile Media & Communication in May 2023. Please note that manuscripts must conform to the guidelines for Mobile Media & Communication. In case of further questions, please contact the guest editors.
- Castells, M. (2000). The Rise of the Network Society. Blackwell.
- Crosby, A. W. (2003). America’s forgotten pandemic: the influenza of 1918. Cambridge University Press.
- de Souza e Silva, A., & Xiong-Gum, M. N. (2020). Mobile Networked Creativity: Developing a theoretical framework for understanding creativity as survival. Communication Theory.
Souza e Silva, A., Glover-Rijkse, R., Njathi, A., & De Cunto Bueno, D. Playful Mobilities in the Global South: A study of Pokémon Go play in Rio de Janeiro and Nairobi. New Media & Society. DOI: 10.1177/14614448211016400.