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Call for papers edited volume

Images in Mobile Communication. New content, new uses, new perspectives ?

Centre de recherche sur les médiations (crem)

The mobile telephone holds a unique position among information and communication technologies (ICTs) : in a decade, it has deeply been integrated into the users’ everyday lives. In France, we count more than 57 million mobile lines for a rate of 89% of the population ; in Germany, the rate has attained. 131%. Mobile phones have become personal, truly incorporated and often trivial objects. Nevertheless, they keep revealing new potentials. After the success of voice and short messaging services, mobile communication tends to become more visual today. The screens are getting larger, and a growing number of built-in functionalities and applications permit to take pictures, record films and diffuse and receive images. As for the users, they appropriate the technology in often creative and surprising ways, sometimes exceeding and sometimes disappointing the providers’ previsions. Cultural studies apply the concept of domestication to describe this process by which the ICTs are incorporated into the users’ everyday lives. Sociological approaches on technology use as well as other qualitative and quantitative schools of thought have largely explored patterns of usage of various mobile applications, starting with voice and short messaging services.

The advent of images
The volume provides a new and original perspective on the field of mobile communication, as it focuses on the advent of images in the emerging uses of the mobile telephone : mobile television, visual telephony, picture taking, video recording, mobile Internet, etc.
Economically, the offer of new services and functionalities involves major stakes for the operators who have been seeing their revenues stagnate in Europe. Furthermore, the question of convergence – with the mobile phone as the principal device for accessing mobile multimedia – reveals the hard competition which has installed itself in the content business.
On a cultural level, we may ask if and how today’s mobile images might resume the dominating role which visual and audiovisual culture has been playing since the 1980s. Will the mobile telephone turn into a new mass medium ?
Finally, we pose the question of what is happening on the users’ side. How do they appropriate the new services and contents, to what extend do they resist to the technology or reinvent it ? How do the users make tradeoffs between the different functionalities on their mobile phone and on other devices ? While prognoses are still a difficult task, the focus on early adopters may permit to identify new trends.

The new uses linked to images
The new uses linked to images employ technologies such as mobile television (unicast and broadcast), MMS, photos and videos, music and the mobile Internet. As for mobile TV, the rollouts of broadcast standards which keep being retarded in some countries (France, Belgium) and have failed in others (Germany) can be taken as a starting point for interrogation. We also need to understand how the mobility of the devices and users predetermine the actual usage. How do the program choices relate to and perhaps modify domestic television habits ? How do the image size and format affect reception ? In which ways does mobile TV viewing inscribe into various forms of social interaction ?
For the MMS, the photos and videos which are more and more popular among users, the question of user-generated content imposes itself. Which sense and status is ascribed to the mobile images ? How do they circulate within the social networks, through the blogs, messaging services (msn etc.), social networks (Facebook etc.) and image hosting and sharing websites (flickr, YouTube) ? Ultimately, how do they contribute to building and maintaining of social relations ?
As for the mobile Internet, questions may be raised about the conditions to participate in a broadband society full of images (information research, access to knowledge, entertainment, social networks, etc.) ? Further, how do the new practices integrate within those already existing ? Which are the limitations linked to the technology, and which choices and trade-offs do users realize given the numerous technological alternatives (between a camera phone and a digital camera, a mobile phone screen and a computer or TV screen, etc.) ?
The propositions may consist in theoretical reflexions, but also in empirical analyses or case studies of usage situations among various publics.

The volume is to be published by Frank & Timme, Berlin, a renowned editor who has published the proceedings of the mobile phone preconference to the 2006 convention of the International Communication Association. The choice of the English language assures the impact of the publication in the international scientific community.
The propositions will be evaluated by the editors, assisted by an international editorial board.
Authors are requested to have them checked for British English. The contributions should not exceed 50.000 characters including spaces, notes and bibliography. (The editorial norms will be sent after acceptance).
Extended abstracts of propositions are to be submitted as Word documents by September 30, 2009. They should include a summary of no more than 6.000 characters covering the following points : title of the proposition, authors’ names, academic affiliations, addresses (mail and phone), objectives and principal questions, theoretical framework, method and expected results.

Submission modalities and deadlines
Submission of extended abstracts : September 30, 2009
Notification of acceptance : October 24, 2009
Submission of full text : January 8, 2010
Return of reviewers’ remarks : February 21, 2010
Submission of final texts : April 30, 2010
Publication : End 2010

Please send the propositions to the two editors of the volume Corinne Martin and Thilo von Pape :
corinne.martin@univ-metz.fr / thilo.vonpape@uni-hohenheim.de

Secretarial dept : Benjamin Champenois – crem@univ-metz.fr
Director : Jacques Walter – jacques.walter@univ-metz.fr
Scientific Journal : Questions de communication : ques2com.fr (Communication Questions)

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