The essay analyzes the interrelationship between media technologies and the development of mobility based on a concrete historical constellation—the emergence of automobilism and its representation in literature and film between 1900 and 1920. The focus lies on Western European countries and most notably on Italian and German literature as well as British, German, and French films. During that period, the portrayal of the automobile in these countries shows a dominant pattern: due to their speed, cars seem to embody a destructive power per se. This is expressed by numerous violence-related scenarios. However, the accentuation of destructive tendencies cannot only be described as a response to increased risks. Rather, they are a product of media technologies and media-specific aesthetics, too: film, establishing itself as a new media form experimenting with “dynamization“ and destruction; and literature, responding to the new visual media using dynamic language and the demolition of traditional poetic forms. Consequently, the noticeable surge in technology around 1900 created new and different types of mobility in the areas of transportation and media, influencing each other.
Transfers between Media and Mobility
Automobilism, Early Cinema, and Literature, 1900-1920
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.
A Brief History of Smart Transportation Infrastructure
Kathleen Frazer Oswald
This article argues that smart transportation—understood as convergences of communication and transportation infrastructure to facilitate movement—has long been manifested in what John Urry has described as nexus systems, or those that require many elements to work synchronously. Understanding smart infrastructures as those aligning with twenty-first-century sensibilities concerning technology, convenience, safety, and security, I demonstrate a longer trajectory for this seemingly new trend in three cases: (1) the synchronization of the train with the telegraph, (2) the organization of early automobility, and (3) information-rich/connected automobility and the driverless car. Rethinking smart infrastructure historically reveals a long-existing tendency rather than a new one to manage movement via communication technologies.
Promises and Perils
Julia M. Hildebrand and Stephanie Sodero
conceptual entanglements of media and mobility. We imagine mobilities thinking that juxtaposes, reconciles, and complicates mobilities like the virus and the drone, the human and nonhuman, the biological and technological, the ground and the air, along with
On the Historical Alignment of Media and Mobility
Dorit Müller and Heike Weber
In a nineteenth century context, traffic could mean both communication and the transportation of goods and people. For instance, the German term “traffic” (Verkehr), referred to “communicating” (verkehren) and to “traffic”/“transportation” (Verkehr). Historically speaking, before the age of telegraphy, any communication over distance required the physical transport of a message or a messenger. Many authors, thus, identified the latter as a fundamental caesura in the relationship between media and mobility, uncoupling media from their previous reliance on physical movement. At the same time, telegraphy and the railway formed a paradigmatic symbiosis that enforced the ongoing duality between media and mobility: traffic depended on and sometimes boosted communication and vice versa. Hence, traffic and media were not disconnected as such, but their connections were rearranged and new ones emerged while others such as the postal services persisted.
Interplaced Mobility in the Age of “Digital Gestell”
Christopher Howard and Wendelin Küpers
The following article explores meanings and implications of mobile technologies and embodiment in a globally networked context. Drawing on ethnographic research on global travelers moving through Nepal and India, we focus on the role mobile technologies play in mediating perceptions and performances of place. Facilitated by contemporary media and mobility infrastructures, we suggest that mobile subjects are relationally “interplaced.” By introducing this notion, we aim to illustrate how forms of virtual mobility overlap with and impact actual, corporeal experience. Following Heidegger, we also develop a concept we call “digital Gestell” (enframement). Applying Heidegger’s reflection that technologies of a given historical epoch frame the way subjects approach the world, we can say that many people today are “digitally enframed.” Facing this increasingly technologized Being-in-the-world, we suggest an “ethos of Gelassenheit” for a more responsive and responsible awareness of the powers technologies hold on our perceptions and actions.
The "Ambulant In-between"
Media Histories of Mobile Communication
The essay delineates a multi-layered approach to a media history of mobile telecommunication. Whilst contemporary media such as the digital mobile phone are often seen as a recent “mobilization“ of media, the dual aim of the essay is to both historicize and theorize mobile communication media, focusing on their past and present configurations at the junction of media and mobility. Historically these configurations are discussed in regard to the early history of wireless, to the cell phone, and to Citizens' Band (CB) radio as well as to relations between mobilities of transportation and media within the history of telecommunication. Today's mobile media are thus traced back to a heterogenous historical landscape of mobile “media in transition“ (W. Uricchio). Theoretically mobile communication is discussed in its multiple and basically ambiguous mobility that shifts and broadens the notion of the “mobile.“ The term “ambulant,“ referring to something “not fixed,“ is used to mark this shift and is brought into play as a heuristical concept that allows us critically to rethink notions of mobility from a historical and media-related point of view.
Gijs Mom and Georgine Clarsen
Weber, as editors of this journal and guest editors of a Special Section on Media and Mobility, made a plea to study “the intense correlations between media and transport technologies,” which had been fatefully split at the end of the nineteenth century
Micro-Mobilities in Lockdown
–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017). 10 Christian Huck, “Introduction: Mobility, Transfers, and Cultural Appropriation,” Transfers 2, no. 3 (2012): 76–80. 11 Dorit Müller and Heike Weber, “‘Traffic’: On the Historical Alignment of Media and
Keep Moving, Stay Tuned
The Construction of Flow in and through Radio Traffic Reports
the introduction of various other forms of media and mobility, has not been challenged. Radio traffic reports have actually supported this new paradigm of suburbanization and increasing distances between the home and the workplace of many people, and I