The Will to Connection: - Networked Technologies and Staged Mobilities

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This paper put forward the argument that mobilities research need to pay increased attention to the way network technologies and location aware media are influencing the movement in everyday life. The title of the paper is from a quote of Georg Simmel who more than a century ago argued for the importance of understanding the ‘will to connection’ as a crucial human feature. Since then much technological development has taken place and today we need to engage with this from the vantage point of the ‘mobilities turn’ (e.g. represented by Adey 2010, Cresswell 2006, Sheller & Urry 2006, and Urry 2007). Crucially, ‘visibly impressing the path into the surface of the earth’ is no longer sufficient evidence of connections and interactions since networked technologies create connections by ‘invisible’ linkages across time and space suggesting the we need to add ‘digital connectivity’ to ‘physical proximity’ in order fully to comprehend contemporary mobilities. This paper argues for a situational and everyday life perspective termed ‘Staging Mobilities’ (Jensen, forthcoming). It draws in particular on the works of Goffman and has been applied to mobility research earlier (Jensen 2010a, 2010b). According to the Staging Mobilities framework we should think of mobilities as carefully and meticulously designed and planned ‘from above’ as one might say. However, they are equally importantly acted out, performed and lived ‘from below’. Staging mobilities point at dynamic lived mobilities as they become manifest in relation to key themes: The physical settings, material spaces and design; the social interactions; and the embodied performances underpinning contemporary urban mobilities. The paper presents the analytical model of Staging Mobilities in general, but put focus on the dimension of network technologies in particular. Here the paper engages with notions of ‘NetLocality’ (Gordon & Silva 2011), ‘CodeSpace’ (Kitchin & Dodge 2011), ‘Digital Ground’ (McCullough 2004), ‘Splintering Urbanism’ (Graham & Marvin 2001) and the ‘Sentient City’ (Shephard 2011) in order to qualify the networked technology dimension of the Staging Mobilities framework.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date16 Mar 2012
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2012
Event3rd Pan American Mobilities Network Conference: Local and mobile: Linking mobilities, mobile communication and locative media - North Carolina State University, United States
Duration: 16 Mar 201218 Mar 2012


Conference3rd Pan American Mobilities Network Conference
LocationNorth Carolina State University
CountryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Paper for the 3rd Pan American Mobilities Network Conference ‘Local and mobile: Linking mobilities, mobile communication and locative media’, March 16-18 2012, North Carolina State University, USA


  • Mobilities
  • Networked technologies
  • Connectivity

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