Mobil információs




Kristóf NYÍRI: Introduction

The papers in this booklet were presented at a conference held as part of the interdisciplinary research program The Mobile Information Society, organized by the Institute for Philosophical Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and sponsored by WESTEL Mobile Telecommunications (Hungary). The conference took place on March 11-12, 2001, in Dunabogdány. Among the contributors were communication theorists, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, economists, linguists, political theorists, and historians of science.

The introductory essay addresses T.S. Eliot's famous lines "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?", only to point out, after a brief analysis, that there are no sharp differences in meaning between the notions "information" and "knowledge". Knowledge is information in context. And as the essay suggests, knowledge possessed by the future - mobile - information society will be of a less alienated kind than that characterizing the culture of the printed book. Mobile, interactive, multimedia networking amounts to a return to humanity's natural communicational environment, but on a higher level.


Péter GEDEON: Péter GEDEON: The Impact of the Mobile Information Technology on the Economy

In the economic sphere, technological and institutional changes are interconnected, the new technologies predicate new regulatory modes and new patterns of economic behavior. Being a part of the breakthrough in information technologies, mobile information technologies themselves have contributed to these changes. The paper examines the links between economic processes and information technologies in general, and mobile information technologies, i.e. mobile phones, in particular. The new technological and regulatory regime which information technologies brought about takes the place of traditional mass production, which means that its effects can only be understood in relationship to mass production. The analysis of the impact of the mobile phone uses as a frame of reference on the one hand the pattern of mass production and, connected to that pattern, the wired phone, and on the other hand the new information technologies and the Internet. The presentation also discusses the role of he mobile phone in reducing transaction costs, in developing on-line businesses, in influencing the mobility of production factors, and in sustaining social networks.


András KARÁCSONY: The Transformation of Political Communication

With the appearance of the mobile phone as a new medium of communication all conventional interpretations of the term "communication" need to be reconsidered. There is a fundamental new quality to this instrument of communication in that it is not confined to any given place. It is no longer a certain place with its particular set of persons that is being addressed, but rather a particular person, wherever he or she might be. This focusing on particular persons has implications also for the nature of political communication as such. The more verbal communication is gaining ground, the more players in the political arena are required to place confidence in their partners - a confidence that is facilitated precisely by personal communication. Thus, a new integrative element (confidence) is added to the traditionally hierarchical structure of politics. Also, verbal communication tends to soften the bureaucratic character of written language, and, by way of the new mobile connectedness, experts are more readily consulted and included in the process of everyday communication - in a way which adds to the momentum working against centralized structures. Besides affecting internal political communication in such a direct manner, the universal use of mobile phones can be shown to have further effects also on political mass communication and public administration.


Mária HELLER: New Communication Situations and Needs: The Development of Hierarchic Public Spheres

The wide use of new information and communication technologies (ICT) has made it clear that it is advantageous to treat the various types of communication within a single theoretical framework. This is the only adequate frame for a complex treatment of the significantly modified communication situation, given that the new information and communication technologies have radically changed the space and time constraints of communication and so have altered the habits and patterns of communication of the members of society.

As a consequence of the wide use of ICT both the scientific and lay representation of the public sphere have changed. The public sphere evolved along the borderline between the public and the private, but this opposition itself continues to change (Meyrowitz), which after the first structural change of the public sphere (Habermas) induces a new structural change. Instead of the former idea of a single public sphere, a complex structure of overlapping layers of public spheres of various dimensions is coming about (Keane).

The rapid technological changes involve profound social changes and raise numerous new theoretical problems. Some social scientists are pessimistic, seeing a growing cleavage within and between individual societies and the gap becoming irreversible (Castells). But development also has its positive aspects; active, creative communication may again increase as opposed to passive consumption. At the same time, the possibility to participate in local, national, regional and global public spheres gives a new impulse to the interactive communication of (local, national, regional and global) citizens. Mobile communication devices make this possibility for development even more secure and accessible.


Béla MESTER: Documents in Acoustic Space. Text and Speech Through the Mobile Phone

The history of civilization may be seen as the evolution from archaic communication in acoustic space toward information arranged in visual space. The new technologies of information, communication, and storage do not necessarily imply that this development has reached its end. Though we may treat them differently from the printed book, arrays of information in the form of images, text or sound are nevertheless regarded as fixed documents. However the text, sound and as yet embryonic image coming through the mobile phone loses its fixedness almost irrespective of the senders intentions and evaporates in the conversations conducted over the phone and in physical space. It becomes almost part of the scenery, like traffic signs or billboards.

Does this development mark a new, second age of oral communication better suited to human nature than the book - or the beginning of cultural decline? The paper argues that both approaches are wrong. In the history of human communication via various media it was rare that every member of a community related to the information carriers in the same way. A new demarcation line is being staked out between "document editors" and users who consume their products as non-documents.


Sándor FERENCZ: The Impact of Mobile Information Technology on Our Information Habitudes

The object of this study is the current state of mobile information technology, or more specifically its two most common applications, SMS and WAP. The wording "information habitude" well expresses the actual behavior of people obtaining and exchanging information. Their behavior is influenced as much by socialization turning into habit as it is determined by individual anthropological traits. This way the active and comprehensive qualities predetermining our decisions and choices are what we refer to as taste in its broadest sense.

The study postulates that mobile information technology is not a reduced form of the Internet, meaning that SMS and WAP are to be treated as altogether unique phenomena of the information society. The final conclusion is that the two data formats, though their success may quickly propel them technologically beyond their present narrow and costly limits, will continue to have a determining influence on our information habits, our information tastes. The recent trend of our changing information habitudes may thus carry long-term effects.

Any lasting effects seem to be grounded in the currently exploding drive toward rationalization by way of a highly compact narrative, which exhibits analogous features as computer programming in its heroic age when its resources were limited. The development of SMS and WAP into a source of information fashion and style on the one hand trains us to use more compact, terse, rapid and redundancy-free data formats, on the other these segmented, stereotype pieces of information may decompose our mode of thinking and make it more malleable and vulnerable. Not only the fading of any clear divisions and competencies between technologies but also between technology and content providers indicate that a convergence is taking place.


Csaba PLÉH: Modifications in the Architecture of Cognition and Contemporary Information Technology

1. A recurring question in today's research on cognition is in how far organizations that were thought to be relatively stable - modular, if you will - have changed with the appearance of systems that presume the existence of a common semantics, first natural language, and then writing. A number of suggestions have been made, e.g. by Donald and by Mithen, who stress with regard to the palaeontology of cognition (i.e. the anthropogenesis of the mind and the prehistoric evolution of modern man) that our cognitive systems became flexible by way of a communal semantics, which presumes that they become ingrained via individual acquisition.

2. Donald postulates also a greater change, or at least one that is more important in regard to the modern carriers of culture, when he states that writing brings along the external vehicles of cognition and with that the idea of what is considered objective knowledge. In the architecture of the individual this shapes the modes of thinking which build on the reciprocity between memory systems of and outside the body, and as such it leads to a change in the architecture.

3. All of this is closely linked to the present age. Network information carriers are a new instrument of access to knowledge. They are new, for example, in the sense that less preparation is needed to use the knowledge. That is true both in the long term (schooling) and short term (no need to physically access a library and in it a book). Beyond mere metaphors, the big psychological question is whether this will change the structure of human thinking and the whole system of the social verification of thinking. Does the contemporary information revolution induce architectural change?

4. These are the ideas the talk attempts to explore:
4.1. Change in the access to knowledge and in learning strategies: Long-term changes.
4.2. Knowledge-based information processing and retrieval. Could there be a top-down shift as a consequence of the new technologies?
4.3. Changes in the criteria for the certainty of knowledge and the psychological consequences of this. The transformation of naive epistemology.
4.1. Consequences of the changes in access to and accessibility of communication.


Valéria CSÉPE: Cognitive Development and the Mobile Information Society

The nature of literacy and learning is rapidly changing as new technologies for information and communication such as cellular phones appear, providing us with new challenges and new opportunities as we consider how best to be prepared for changes of the human cognitive structure. By their very nature, humans love to communicate, love to express themselves, as is well shown by the intensive use of cellular phones. In the world of the five senses, people freely experiment with language, voice modulation, gestures, and facial expressions - all as ways to communicate nuances in meaning. Cellular phones used for talking or for text messages (SMS) do not provide many of these options.

The regular possibilities for typing SMS messages on the recent generation of cellular phones set many limitations, especially when languages having accented vowels, such as Hungarian, are used. However, when immersed in a medium that places some restrictions on the path to communicate, humans get downright clever and creative in overcoming any barriers. The very few existing studies, run by psychologists and mostly using questionnaires, focused mainly on the general habits of cellular phone users. Instead of using only this general method which gives information about the overt behavior of the subjects investigated, our own study used the cellular phone as a device for getting online information on text composing, in addition to questionnaires. The aim was to obtain information on cognitive changes assumed to occur in dealing with space and time due to the intensive use of mobile devices. As the results show the SMS-writers developed a wide variety of strategies in order to overcome the limitations. However, these strategies correlated with the subject's level of literacy, motivation, and the type of task they were asked to perform. A detailed analysis of the SMS-texts revealed that a new vocabulary is being created in order to save characters and typing time. As a general rule these new forms were composed as distorted abbreviations or acronyms, while some of them were imaginative and creative formulations. A very interesting outcome of the study is that cellular phone users of about 20 years of age manifested conspicuous changes in dealing space and time. Further studies are being conducted to introduce the cellular phone as a possible device in online psychological measurements.


Klára SÁNDOR: Mobile Society and Language Use: Something New or the Same Old Thing?

Computers and mobile phones are fairly often accused of "damaging" Hungarian. These notions are speculations based on "common sense", and reflect but preconceptions about language change. In reality, very little is known about how new technologies affect Hungarian language use, since so far no research has been conducted on the topic. Building on the findings of sociolinguistics, the paper considers what kind of effects the new situation can possibly have on language use, when daily communication and, as a result, the development and maintenance of dense social networks is less and less limited by physical factors. One possible result is, I believe, that the asymmetric evaluation of standard and non-standard varieties will move to a more balanced one as the standard variety is loosing its privilege to be the only appropriate instrument for writing, and as writing itself is loosing its high prestige. The paper outlines the plan of a project to gather data to verify this hypothesis.


Zsuzsanna KONDOR: Philosophy, Knowledge, Communication

A comparison of certain aspects and facts belonging to the fields of the history of philosophy, the history of communication technologies, and the sociology of science, appears to confirm the hypothesis that, in any area of knowledge, the technology of communication is a determining factor as regards the articulation of thoughts, the conveying of knowledge, and the contents to be communicated. The institution of communication characteristic of any given age has a significant impact on the ways knowledge will be exchanged, as well as on the rate of the accumulation of knowledge; while the mode of articulation is not without influence upon the relation of thought on the one hand and the content communicated on the other. It is to be expected that the use of multimedia and mobile devices will significantly modify previous forms of creative thinking; and at the same time alter the ways of articulation characteristic of fragmented forms of knowing and acting.


János LAKI - Gábor PALLÓ: The Transformation of Scientific Communication

A fundamental question in the philosophy of science is the relationship between the subject and the object of knowing. Disregarding their stand in other matters, philosophers of science always assume that scientific statements are intersubjective, i.e. their sense and truth can be understood and determined by anybody. Though the analysis of scientific language is one of the most thoroughly explored areas in the philosophy of science, the modes of scientific communication have not been widely investigated. This is all the more remarkable as the forms, goals and impact of publications belong to the fundamental problems of the actual (not idealized) work of science.

The text gives an outline of the role of communication between scientists, in particular of the role of publications in scientific research and in the institutional structure of science. It accepts the view that modern sciences are the products of the printing culture, which determines their whole system. The digital world may fundamentally change this system, provided the net really constitutes an entirely new medium of communication.

- The life of researchers will change as the possibilities of creative work will expand both in place and time:
- Production of science will become more efficient
- The basic notion of the scientist will change: e.g., the groups of scientists actually doing the research will not be identifiable
- Basic notions in the system of scientific evaluation, such as priority, originality, degrees, etc., will become problematic
- Mobile phones will accelerate and radicalize these changes.


László FEKETE: Man, Machine, and Communication: A Few Years Before the Convergence of Communication Instruments

In the 20th century the telephone had to do with the technical problem of transmitting communication between two people over a distance. It operated on the principles of analogy, reciprocity and simultaneity. It enabled the long-distance transmission of the human voice while depriving the speakers of all other sensory modes of communication. The telephone of the 21st century will certainly make provision for all the sensory modes of communication between people. But this telephone, with its digitializing, dividing into parts, and manipulating analog sensory signs, will still not open a radically new period in the history of communication, because it will continue to adhere to anthropological principles. At the same time the direction that a radically expanding communication space will take is known and obvious: communication between man and machine, and between machines. In this communication the signs will not necessarily return to any identical entities, to signs which humans are naturally able to encode and decode. On surfing the World Wide Web or using the ever newer services offered by mobile phones we tend to forget that we are communicating not only (and in case of the Internet not even primarily) with our peers but with computers.