Maximizing Time and Space

In “All Aboard the Quantum Train”, Collins speaks to how using a smartphone within public transit can enable people to manipulate time and space, to exist in a realm beyond work, home or the “third”, coffeeshop-eque places. I like the agency that this perspective gives to users, that they can not only fill temporalities with activity, but use that time to be productive. In other words, it’s not only about passing time, but maximizing and extending it. How New York.

Riding the subway throughout NYC, that’s a notion I can’t help but notice (and since beginning our observations, I’ve become extra attuned). With mobile devices, people can easily use the temporal space between points A and B to extend their home and work lives. A man in a suit queues up emails on his Blackberry, waiting to press “send” as we pull up to the next station. The girl zoning in on her laptop frantically types up an essay that’s due tomorrow. Friends scroll through a Facebook album from the party they missed yesterday night.

One must no longer surrender to what Esther Kim calls “technologies of disengagement”, passing empty time and minimizing social interaction with various media. Therefore, wireless internet in the subway system, by increasing the flow of information and co-presence throughout the city, can bring further meaning to users’ lives and sense of identity, whether personally or professionally. I don’t think the subway is a non-place, but a setting on its own that’s intricately linked to people’s home and work lives (e.g. email, social media, texting). I’m now wondering how they all connect. In other words, if we were to draw a diagram like we did to illustrate Hampton’s thinking about public, private and parochial space, but this time for the temporal world of mobile tech use on the subway, what would it look like? How would the realms interact, and would one contain another? I’m still trying to sketch it out…






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