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Articles Special Issue on Representations, History, and Wartime France Special Issue on French Studies and Its Futures Dossier on Technology, the Visual, and Culture Reflections, Events, and Debates Review Essays Book Reviews Index of Books Reviewed

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Moralizing Mobility?

Persuasive Technologies and the Ethics of Mobility

Andreas Spahn

There is a tension in any ethical evaluation of mobility. On the one side mobility is linked to elements of progress, cosmopolitism, autonomy, and freedom. On the other side increasing mobility causes worries with regard to safety and sustainability. This essay analyzes a suggested technical solution to the worries about safety and sustainability: the increasing usage of persuasive technologies to change individual behavior. Can and should we moralize mobility technologies by way of persuasion?

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Digital Peacekeepers, Drone Surveillance and Information Fusion

A Philosophical Analysis of New Peacekeeping

Lisa Portmess and Bassam Romaya

In June 2014 an Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping was commissioned to examine how technology and innovation could strengthen peacekeeping missions. The panel's report argues for wider deployment of advanced technologies, including greater use of ground and airborne sensors and other technical sources of data, advanced data analytics and information fusion to assist in data integration. This article explores the emerging intelligence-led, informationist conception of UN peacekeeping against the backdrop of increasingly complex peacekeeping mandates and precarious security conditions. New peacekeeping with its heightened commitment to information as a political resource and the endorsement of offensive military action within robust mandates reflects the multiple and conflicting trajectories generated by asymmetric conflicts, the responsibility to protect and a technology-driven information revolution. We argue that the idea of peacekeeping is being revised (and has been revised) by realities beyond peacekeeping itself that require rethinking the morality of peacekeeping in light of the emergence of 'digital peacekeeping' and the knowledge revolution engendered by new technologies.

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“The World Is My Domain”

Technology, Gender, and Orientalism in German Interwar Motorized Adventure Literature

Sasha Disko

Following Germany's resounding defeat in the First World War, the loss of its status as a colonial power, and the series of severe political and economic upheavals during the interwar years, travel abroad by motor vehicle was one way that Germans sought to renegotiate their place in the world. One important question critical studies of mobility should ask is if technologies of mobility contributed to the construction of cultural inequality, and if so in which ways? Although Germans were not alone in using technology to shore up notions of cultural superiority, the adventure narratives of interwar German motorists, both male and female, expressed aspirations for renewed German power on the global stage, based, in part, on the claimed superiority of German motor vehicle technology.

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The French Quest for the Silent Car Body

Technology, Comfort, and Distinction in the Interwar Period

Stefan Krebs

Following Germany's resounding defeat in the First World War, the loss of its status as a colonial power, and the series of severe political and economic upheavals during the interwar years, travel abroad by motor vehicle was one way that Germans sought to renegotiate their place in the world. One important question critical studies of mobility should ask is if technologies of mobility contributed to the construction of cultural inequality, and if so in which ways? Although Germans were not alone in using technology to shore up notions of cultural superiority, the adventure narratives of interwar German motorists, both male and female, expressed aspirations for renewed German power on the global stage, based, in part, on the claimed superiority of German motor vehicle technology.

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"All Transportation Is Local"

Mobile-Digital-Networked-Technologies and Networked Orientations

Joseph F. Turcotte and M. Len Ball

In an increasingly mediated situation, mobile, digital, and networked technologies (MDNTs) prompt individuals to orient themselves in new ways to the spaces they traverse. How users and communities experience these technologies in relation to the environments around them subsequently affects mentalities, including perceptions of space and mobility. The mediating presence of digital technology interconnects internal and external factors through diverse social and technological networks. This paper uses interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives to argue that ubiquitous MDNTs alter the ways that individuals orient themselves in relation to the spaces, both on- and offline, that they traverse. By mediating various visual, audible, and informational aspects of daily life while remaining implicated within external networks of related experiences, individuals move through on- and offline spaces in ways that allow the subject to negotiate her local environment(s). Experiences of mobility and space become more fluid as spatial subjectivities and mobility become integrated.

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The Rise and Fall of the Segway

Lessons for the Social Adoption of Future Transportation

Andrew V. Clark, Carol Atkinson-Palombo, and Norman W. Garrick

Once posited as a revolutionary transportation technology, the Segway never took off as some expected because the social acceptance of the technology was not considered in a systematic manner. Using a framework for social acceptance of technology borrowed from the literature on renewable energy, we examine how social, economic, and environmental costs of the Segway, along with regulatory issues presented barriers to implementation. High prices, legislative and spatial issues, and a lack of appeal to consumers presented challenges to acceptance. This case study provides a timely reminder of the multifaceted and complex nature of social acceptance that will need to be applied to future innovations, such as autonomous vehicles, to better understand factors that need to be considered for them to be embraced by society.

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The Tyranny of Time and Space—Weakened but Not Vanquished

Comment on Special Section on Media and Mobility

Patricia L. Mokhtarian

People have exchanged messages across distances of space or time since the dawn of human history. Modern technologies, for both travel and telecommunication, have vastly increased the speed and reach of our communication potential, but the difference from the past is not just one of degree: at least one difference in kind is the convergence of information/computing technology with communication technology (ICT), and specifically the emergence of the (now-mobile) internet. Relationships between ICT and travel are numerous, complex, and paradoxical. Speculation that “modern“ ICT could substitute for travel virtually coincided with the invention of the telephone, but scholars as early as the 1970s also realized the potential for mutual synergy and generation. Although ICT and travel have diminished the tyranny of space, they cannot be said to have conquered it.

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Ritika Prasad

Focusing on the wide-ranging scholarship on how railway technology, travel, and infrastructure has affected South Asia‚ this article highlights recent interventions and shifts. It discusses how questions about land‚ labor‚ capital‚ and markets are being increasingly integrated with questions about how railways affected society‚ culture‚ and politics. It also stresses the increasing interest in comparative work‚ both in terms of locating railways within wider structures of transport and mobility as well as analyzing how South Asia’s engagement relates to the global impact of this technology.

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Mark Huberty

Mark Huberty, Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University The development of the high-technology startup sector in Germany is critical for the adjustment of the German economy to growing international competition in traditional industrial sectors. The article explores whether changes to the German venture capital financing sector in the period 1995-2005 indicate an improved development path for high-technology startup firms. Based on the volumes and structure of venture capital investments during this period, I conclude that the venture capital sector has undergone substantial change in favor of financing and supporting high-technology startup firms. However, small firm behavior suggests that even with a changed venture capital sector, the overall regulatory structure of the German economy will result in lower rates of firm success than otherwise would be expected from a resurgent venture capital market. The policy implication is that, without additional regulatory reform favoring small, high-technology enterprises, the transformation of German industry will continue to be constrained.