Anytime, Anywhere Mobility

Anytime, Anywhere Mobility

Mikael Wiberg (Umea University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch029
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Abstract

Just a couple of years ago several mobile phone operators and others (e.g., Helal, 1999; Galambos, 2002; Ilderem, 2005) pushed forward “anytime, anywhere” as a goal or vision for future mobile services and mobile IT-use. In this article we set out to explore if “anytime, anywhere” mobility is in fact a paradox. Kleinrock (1996, 1998) claims advanced wireless technologies, the Internet, global positioning systems, portable and distributed computing, and so forth, will realize the vision of “anytime, anywhere.” We can today see the first signs of this vision. For example, telework is now possible, remote organizations can be engaged in close cooperation, and people can communicate, collaborate, share digital media, and form communities on the Internet. The world has become a global village, some claim (Preece, 1994, Castells, 1996), where you can interact with anybody independent of time and space. The vision of “anytime, anywhere” describes a situation where people can do tasks wherever they want and without any consideration of time. Related to the vision is the 2x2 matrix often used in the field of computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) to denote different kinds of computer supported collaboration (e.g., Johansen, 1988; Baecker et al., 1993). This model has the dimensions of time and place, where each can be the same or different. The model is shown in Figure 1.
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Introduction

Just a couple of years ago several mobile phone operators and others (e.g., Helal, 1999; Galambos, 2002; Ilderem, 2005) pushed forward “anytime, anywhere” as a goal or vision for future mobile services and mobile IT-use. In this article we set out to explore if “anytime, anywhere” mobility is in fact a paradox.

Kleinrock (1996, 1998) claims advanced wireless technologies, the Internet, global positioning systems, portable and distributed computing, and so forth, will realize the vision of “anytime, anywhere.” We can today see the first signs of this vision. For example, telework is now possible, remote organizations can be engaged in close cooperation, and people can communicate, collaborate, share digital media, and form communities on the Internet. The world has become a global village, some claim (Preece, 1994, Castells, 1996), where you can interact with anybody independent of time and space.

The vision of “anytime, anywhere” describes a situation where people can do tasks wherever they want and without any consideration of time. Related to the vision is the 2x2 matrix often used in the field of computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) to denote different kinds of computer supported collaboration (e.g., Johansen, 1988; Baecker et al., 1993). This model has the dimensions of time and place, where each can be the same or different. The model is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

The model shows different scenarios for groupware (Ellis et al., 1991)

The vision of “anytime, anywhere” is tasks that can be done independent of time and place (i.e., in any of the four scenarios). This does not say anything about where or when the tasks should be done, only that these dimensions should not restrict them.

It is interesting to notice that the model does not take into consideration mobility. It assumes that people are either in the same place, or in a different place, and whether or not they are mobile does not seem to make a difference.

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Background

In the past, people traveled because they had no choice. If you wanted to do business or talk to remote friends you had to meet them face-to-face. However, transportation costs prohibited certain meetings and activities. A long series of technological developments (including the pony express, railroads, automobiles, and the telephone) have aimed at lowering the costs associated with transaction and conversation. Computer-mediated communications are the most recent development in that progression. Even so, people still travel and still meet in person.

To summarize: The adoption of Internet technologies, mobile phones, and so forth, have increased and in a sense made the world smaller. Compared to ten years ago, today it is much easier to communicate with remotes sites, and the frequency of communication in many organizations has increased accordingly. Some people have even talked about “the global village” (Preece, 1994). A parallel trend is that people travel more than they used to do. According to predictions, this trend will sustain, and even increase. For example, the national road agency of Sweden reports the number of flights will increase by a factor of four in the next ten years. How can it be that the global village is so mobile? If people can interact and work independent of time and space, why then do they spend more and more time traveling? Is that not a paradox?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Work: The ability to carry out work while geographically moving around.

Distributed Work: Collaborative work carried out by several persons at different geographical location.

“Anytime, Anywhere” Work: Describes a situation where people can do tasks wherever they want and without any consideration of time (i.e. they can be done anytime, anywhere).

“Particular Time, Particular Place” Work: Tasks that must be done in a particular place within a particular time.

Telework: The ability to carry out work from a distance. For example, sitting at home and doing office work. Telework does not imply that the worker is mobile (i.e., in motion) in any sense even though the concept of telework is sometimes used as a synonym for mobile work.

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