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Home is Where the Hub Is? Wireless Infrastructures and the Nature of Domestic Culture in Australia

Copyright © 2009. 16 pages.
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DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-152-0.ch021
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MLA

Jungnickel, Katrina and Genevieve Bell. "Home is Where the Hub Is? Wireless Infrastructures and the Nature of Domestic Culture in Australia." Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City. IGI Global, 2009. 310-325. Web. 17 Sep. 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-152-0.ch021

APA

Jungnickel, K., & Bell, G. (2009). Home is Where the Hub Is? Wireless Infrastructures and the Nature of Domestic Culture in Australia. In M. Foth (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City (pp. 310-325). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-152-0.ch021

Chicago

Jungnickel, Katrina and Genevieve Bell. "Home is Where the Hub Is? Wireless Infrastructures and the Nature of Domestic Culture in Australia." In Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City, ed. Marcus Foth, 310-325 (2009), accessed September 17, 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-152-0.ch021

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Abstract

From WiFi (802.11b) with its fixed and mobile high-speed wireless broadband Internet connectivity to WiMAX (802.16e), the newest wireless protocol, extending the reach of WiFi across longer distances and more difficult terrain, new wireless technologies are increasingly thought to impact the ways in which we encounter social spaces in public, civic and commercial sites within large urban centers. This chapter explores how and to what extent these new wireless technologies might also be reconfiguring and reorganizing domestic practice and social relations. Drawing on a year-long ethnographic study of WiFi and WiMax provisioned homes in a major Australian metropolitan center, we argue that new wireless infrastructures are impacting how people imagine and use mobile devices, computers and the Internet in and around the home but not in ways wholly anticipated by commercial Internet service providers.
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Introduction

The commercial rhetoric that surrounds wireless infrastructure proposes to radically alter our everyday lives. A recent Telstra advertising campaign featuring images of a kombi van driving along an open road to the classic tune I’ve been everywhere suggests wireless infrastructure offers the ‘freedom’ of ‘true mobility’ (Telstra 2006). Other providers make claims of ‘convenience’, ‘no worries flexibility’ and ‘always on’ connectivity to signal the ease and ubiquity of the service (See Optus 2006; Unwired 2006) . On the most basic level WiFi and WiMAX technologies enable the transfer of high-speed data wirelessly and operate via electromagnetic signals broadcast from individually owned modems connected to a broadband connection in the home or accessed via city-wide wireless coverage. This means a person equipped with a wirelessly enabled computer or handheld device can theoretically access the Internet anywhere within a broadcast area. They are no longer restricted to the office desk, the table near the fixed landline in the home, or the Internet café. Contemporary advertising for wireless services promises change to not only how we do things but where we do them. Indeed, advertising messages from service providers and technology manufacturers, political discourses and governmental agendas, and media coverage all exhort users to release themselves from the constraints of their fixed and sedentary habits and embrace new forms of wireless mobility. For the most part, this mobility is mapped directly onto an urban landscape, which users will now be freer to explore and inhabit. Not only do we reject this notion of a generic, stable, depersonalized user, but there are a number of assumptions implicit in these wireless discourses and imaginings that bear critical scrutiny: firstly, that people find their sedentary habits restrictive and will want to experience the ‘freedom’ that ‘being wireless’ offers; secondly, that wireless is ‘everywhere’ which makes it easy or at least easier than traditional technology; thirdly, that once people gain access to these devices and infrastructures they will use them in new places and in new ways; and finally, that there is a seamless and open terrain in which such access can transpire.

Rather than assuming wireless technology use reflects these kinds of ‘anywhere’ and ‘anytime’ imaginings, this paper explores how and in what ways people make sense of wireless infrastructures. By grounding our analysis in cultural and social practices, we offer a snapshot of a specific set of lived experiences that, for the most part, reject the current formulations of ‘wirelessness’ as a technology of ubiquity. We take as our starting point of analysis, the home as ‘hub’: here we are playing on the notion of the router as a gateway to wirelessness, and also on the centrality of the home as a unit of analysis for social and cultural practice (Arnold, M 2004; Jungnickel 2006b; Venkatesh 2006; Shepherd C. et al. 2007). We are particularly interested in re-inscribing homes as an important part of the urban computing research agenda. After all for as much as urban spaces are made up of public, civic and commercial sites, they are also composed and comprised of a complicated build out of domestic spaces – from the high-density, multi-family dwellings of Asian cities to the tightly-packed row houses and terraces of many European and British centres, urban spaces are also, already domestic spaces.

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Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Anthony Townsend
Preface
Marcus Foth
Chapter 1
Amanda Williams, Erica Robles, Paul Dourish
This chapter critically examines the notion of “the city” within urban informatics. Arguing that there is an overarching tendency to construe the... Sample PDF
Urbane-ing the City: Examining and Refining the Assumptions Behind Urban Informatics
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Chapter 2
Jaz Hee-Jeong Choi, Adam Greenfield
Once a city shaped by the boundary conditions of heavy industrialisation and cheap labour, within a few years Seoul has transformed itself to one of... Sample PDF
To Connect and Flow in Seoul: Ubiquitous Technologies, Urban Infrastructure and Everyday Life in the Contemporary Korean City
$37.50
Chapter 3
Nancy Odendaal
Recent literature on African cities examines the way in which social networks function as critical livelihood arteries in the ongoing survival... Sample PDF
Creating an Analytical Lens for Understanding Digital Networks in Urban South Africa
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Chapter 4
Wayne Beyea
Community planning is facing many challenges around the world, such as the rapid growth of megacities as well as urban sprawl. The State of Michigan... Sample PDF
Place Making Through Participatory Planning
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Chapter 5
Mike Ananny, Carol Strohecker
In this paper, we describe the design and installation of a new kind of public opinion forum—TexTales, a public, large-scale interactive projection... Sample PDF
TexTales: Creating Interactive Forums with Urban Publics
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Chapter 6
Jenny Preece
This chapter describes a small networked community in which residents of an apartment building in Washington, D.C., USA supplement their... Sample PDF
An Event-Driven Community in Washington, DC: Forces That Influence Participation
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Chapter 7
Fiorella De Cindio
After more than a decade of e-participation initiatives at the urban level, what remains obscure is the alchemy—i.e., the “arcane” combination of... Sample PDF
Moments and Modes for Triggering Civic Participation at the Urban Level
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Chapter 8
Michael Veith
Societies face serious challenges when trying to integrate migrant communities. One-sided solutions do not pay tribute to the complexity of this... Sample PDF
Fostering Communities in Urban Multi-Cultural Neighbourhoods: Some Methodological Reflections
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Chapter 9
Victor M. Gonzalez, Kenneth L. Kraemer, Luis A. Castro
The practical use of information technology devices in domestic and residential contexts often results in radical changes from their envisioned... Sample PDF
Beyond Safety Concerns: On the Practical Applications of Urban Neighbourhood Video Cameras
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Chapter 10
Colleen Morgan
This chapter explores how we may design located information and communication technologies (ICTs) to foster community sentiment. It focuses... Sample PDF
The Figmentum Project: Appropriating Information and Communication Technologies to Animate Our Urban Fabric
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Chapter 11
Barbara Crow, Michael Longford, Kim Sawchuk, Andrea Zeffiro
The Mobile Media Lab (MML) is a Canadian interdisciplinary research team exploring wireless communications, mobile technologies and locative media... Sample PDF
Voices from Beyond: Ephemeral Histories, Locative Media and the Volatile Interface
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Chapter 12
Helen Klaebe
This chapter defines, explores and Illustrates research at the intersection of people, place and technology in cities. First, we theorise the notion... Sample PDF
Embedding an Ecology Notion in the Social Production of Urban Space
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Chapter 13
Vassilis Kostakos, Eamonn O’Neill
In this paper, we describe a platform that enables us to systematically study online social networks alongside their real-world counterparts. Our... Sample PDF
Cityware: Urban Computing to Bridge Online and Real-World Social Networks
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Chapter 14
Katharine S. Willis
In our everyday lives, we are surrounded by information which weaves itself silently into the very fabric of our existence. Much of the time we act... Sample PDF
Information Places: Navigating Interfaces between Physical and Digital Space
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Chapter 15
Viktor Bedö
This chapter contributes to the ongoing effort to understand the nature of locative urban information by proposing that locative urban information... Sample PDF
A Visual Approach to Locative Urban Information
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Chapter 16
Tristan Thielmann
Car navigation systems, based on “augmented reality,” no longer direct the driver through traffic by simply using arrows, but represent the... Sample PDF
Navigation Becomes Travel Scouting: The Augmented Spaces of Car Navigation Systems
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Chapter 17
Daisuke Tamada
A lot of street view services, which present views of urban landscapes, have recently appeared. The conventional method for making street views... Sample PDF
QyoroView: Creating a Large-Scale Street View as User-Generated Content
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Chapter 18
Hideyuki Nakanishi, Toru Ishida, Satoshi Koizumi
Many research projects have studied various aspects of smart environments including smart rooms, home, and offices. Few projects, however, have... Sample PDF
Virtual Cities for Simulating Smart Urban Public Spaces
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Chapter 19
Andrew Hudson-Smith
Digital cities are moving well beyond their original conceptions as entities representing the way computers and communications are hard wired into... Sample PDF
The Neogeography of Virtual Cities: Digital Mirrors into a Recursive World
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Chapter 20
Laura Forlano
This chapter introduces the role of community wireless networks (CWNs) in reconfiguring people, places and information in cities. CWNs are important... Sample PDF
Codespaces: Community Wireless Networks and the Reconfiguration of Cities
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Chapter 21
Katrina Jungnickel, Genevieve Bell
From WiFi (802.11b) with its fixed and mobile high-speed wireless broadband Internet connectivity to WiMAX (802.16e), the newest wireless protocol... Sample PDF
Home is Where the Hub Is? Wireless Infrastructures and the Nature of Domestic Culture in Australia
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Chapter 22
Andres Sevtsuk
This chapter presents the iSPOTS project, which collects and maps data of WiFi usage on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in... Sample PDF
Mapping the MIT Campus in Real Time Using WiFi
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Chapter 23
John M. Carroll
We discuss the vision, plan, and status of a research project investigating community-oriented services and applications, comprising a wireless... Sample PDF
Supporting Community with Location-Sensitive Mobile Applications
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Chapter 24
Christine Satchell
Early 21st century societies are evolving into a hybrid of real and synthetic worlds where everyday activities are mediated by technology. The... Sample PDF
From Social Butterfly to Urban Citizen: The Evolution of Mobile Phone Practice
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Chapter 25
Jong-Sung Hwang
u-City is South Korea’s answer to urban community challenges leveraging ubiquitous computing technology to deliver state-of-the-art urban services.... Sample PDF
u-City: The Next Paradigm of Urban Development
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Chapter 26
Dan Shang, Jean-François Doulet, Michael Keane
This chapter examines the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in urban China, focusing mainly on their impact on social... Sample PDF
Urban Informatics in China: Exploring the Emergence of the Chinese City 2.0
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Chapter 27
Francesco Calabrese
The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors and handheld electronic devices in recent years allows for a new approach to... Sample PDF
WikiCity: Real-Time Location-Sensitive Tools for the City
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Chapter 28
Eric Paulos, RJ Honicky, Ben Hooker
In this chapter, we present an important new shift in mobile phone usage—from communication tool to “networked mobile personal measurement... Sample PDF
Citizen Science: Enabling Participatory Urbanism
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Chapter 29
Mark Shepard
What happens to urban space given a hypothetical future where all information loses its body, that is, when it is offloaded from the material... Sample PDF
Extreme Informatics: Toward the De-Saturated City
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Chapter 30
Roger J. Burrows
Is it still the case that one can symptomatically read the early work of the cyberpunk author William Gibson as a form of prefigurative urban theory... Sample PDF
Urban Informatics and Social Ontology
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Key Terms in this Chapter

Feral Technologies: A particularly grounded Australian understanding of the tensions and anxieties located at the intersection of partially wild and domesticated technologies.

Cultural Practice: Objects, events, activities, social groupings and language that participants use, produce and reproduce in the context of making meaning in everyday life.

Located Mobility: A theoretical instrument that examines the notion of ‘ease of use’ that pervades much technological discourse and problematises the idea that new ICTs streamline and make simple everyday life, focusing specifically on the existence of rules and boundaries in relation to wireless Internet and computer use in certain spaces, contexts, relationships and periods of time.

WiMAX: Wireless Microwave Access (WiMAX) is based on a compatible 802.16e standard and covers up to 50 kilometers without direct line of sight.

Ethnography: A qualitative approach that produces a thick description of the ways people live their everyday lives and involves participating in everyday activities, observing what goes on and developing relationships with people in these settings.

WiFi: Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) is based on 802.11b standards and provides networking capabilities for computers in a localised area to transfer high-speed data wirelessly. It is most often associated with Internet use though it can be used for file sharing, voice over the Internet Protocol (VoIP) and multi-player gaming.

Wireless Infrastructure: A constellation of technical and social practices.