This chapter seeks opportunities to use mobile technology to improve human mobility. To this end, the chapter reports a diary study of university students’ use of mobile telephones for rendezvousing—arranging, and traveling to, informal meetings with friends and family. This diary study reveals, and suggests explanations for, a number of deficits in user performance: (1) rendezvousers occasionally become highly stressed and lose valuable opportunities; (2) outcomes are worse when rendezvousing at unfamiliar locations; (3) 31 to 45 year olds report more personal sacrifices than 18 to 30 year olds; and (4) when mobile phones are used on the move, the experience of communication is slightly worse than when phones are used prior to departure. Ways of using mobile technology to make good these deficits are suggested.
Key Terms in this Chapter
En Route: From the time at which the first rendezvouser to depart does so, until the last rendezvouser arrives at the rendezvous point.
After the Rendezvous: From the time at which the last rendezvouser arrives at the rendezvous point.
Lost Opportunity: What the rendezvouser would have done, had the rendezvous occurred as intended, but which is now impossible.
Life-Path Diagram: A continuous representation of human activity in time and space, and with respect to other entities and features of the environment.
Rendezvousing: Everyday coordination, ‘meeting up’ of friends and family. The process of arranging, and traveling to a rendezvous point, in order to pursue some non-work, group activity, for example, to watch a movie, or to have lunch. Rendezvousers have personal relationships with each other—they are not impersonal embodiments of organisational roles. So rendezvousing does not include formal or anonymous attendance at institutions, such as ‘reporting to the tax office for interview,’ ‘going to my electronics lecture,’ or ‘going to the annual general meeting.’ It also does not include receipts of service, such as ‘having a pizza delivered.’
Time Geography: A school of human geography that emphasises the development and use of continuous models of human activity with respect to time and space, and argues that these models are a basic component of the understanding of spatial behaviour. Classical, ‘spatial’ geography orients towards space over time, and concerns, for example, changes in settlement size and layout. Time geography, in contrast, orients towards the activities of human individuals in the context of time space, and concerns, for example, patterns of commuting and migration into and out of a settlement.
Prior to Departure: Until the time at which the first rendezvouser to depart does so.
User Performance: Effectiveness of human-computer interaction. The quality of task outcomes achieved, for the costs that users incur achieving these outcomes.