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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter identifies how the theory of polymedia is integrally linked to developments in mobile communication. The term polymedia aims to capture media as composite environments—instead of discrete technologies—which users navigate in order to manage their relationships. The popularization of internet-enabled portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and the parallel wide availability of wireless services have given rise to a culture of ubiquitous connectivity. Smartphones enable the accessing of a mini-ecosystem of platforms and applications while on the move. The related affordances of ubiquitous connectivity, portability, and fluidity between platforms are vital for the emergence of polymedia practices. Mobile communication developments have also contributed to improved internet access, which is one of the preconditions for polymedia practices to emerge. The theory of polymedia in turn offers a distinctive approach for understanding smartphones as mini-ecosystems in their own right and, ultimately, for understanding the micro-workings of mobile communication.

Keywords: affordances, convergence, co-presence, mobility, fluidity, ubiquitous connectivity, media ecology, media environment, smartphone, ethnography

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