Monday, March 10, 2008

FIS Research Day 2008

on friday 14th, the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto (my faculty) hosts research day where faculty and students showcase current research efforts. i will present a preview of a paper that i am working on titled "On my own: using mobile phones to bridge loneliness". The following is the abstract for the paper.

This paper reports on findings from a November 2007 survey of mobile phone use in the personal social networks of 17-33 year olds in Toronto, Canada. Findings are articulated within a social affordances lens for this new media, where in this case, social affordances refer to the properties of mobile phones that foster sociality, particularly within transitional environments. The paper considers the role that ritualistic practices associated with the mobile phone play in how 1st year university students manage feelings of loneliness. In particular, using concepts drawn from Activity Theory I analyze the way mobile phones are used to bridge social gaps in 1st year undergraduate personal networks that are exaggerated when students geographically move further away from well-established social and emotional supports provided by kin and high-school friends to attend university. The paper concludes by proposing a framework that can be used to understand the implications of using new media, such as the mobile phone, in bridging gaps for relationships founded in face-to-face interaction.

Keywords: mobile phone, cell phone, social affordances, social networks, transitions, loneliness, rituals.

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