The mobile phone. A medium in itself: Dissertation

    Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This dissertation examines the integration of the mobile phone into every day life as a communication device and as media. It focuses on the uses of the mobile phone as a pervasive multimedia tool and its relationship to other media in the changing media landscape. The main argument of the dissertation is that the mobile phone is a medium in itself and it should also be regarded as a medium among others. In media studies the mobile phone has been perceived as a sub-media to traditional media. As a medium it has its own specific characteristics and social functions, allthough its uses may vary in different contexts and cultures. However, this argument does not mean that the mobile phone is a medium without user involvements. The role of user innovations has been important in constructing the mobile phone's role in the media field: for instance, text messaging has brought a new kind of social interaction and media form with it. Indeed, the mobile phone has influenced the ways in which we can interact with other media. The mobile phone is located between personal, social and mass media, and can serve personal, peer-to-peer and mass communication purposes in different communications situations. The mobile phone, along with the popularity of personal computers, has contributed to the increased consciousness and idea of personal media, and the emergence of new kinds of media behaviour. The mobile phone is not only a developing tool for citizenship journalism and participatory media making, but also a channel between traditional and new media, as it, in some cases enables the interactivity of television. Text messaging has been incorporated into television and, in some cases, also into newspapers. It seems that the mobile phone as a personal and ubiquitous technology may lower the threshold for participating in media making. The role of the mobile phone as a tool in digital storytelling has become more important as the number of reader's own photographs as news material in newspapers has increased. The newspaper offices and other media have to find a solution for how to act with the increasing content produced by their audience; for instance, how to find the important news and verify the reliability and originality of the material. The copyright issues with amateur content producers are also gaining more significance. Yet, the physical user interface of the mobile phone is quite different from other media. This means that in the media production stage, the media content has to be tailored so that it can be accessed with a mobile phone and read on their small-screen user interfaces. Currently, there are problems related to the immature technology, such as mobile web browsing problems. Usability issues regarding small-screen user interfaces are particularly important. However, the size of the screen is not only a limitation but also an advantage, as in some cases as it can support the use of mobile media services in various places and situations. Other limitations, such as battery life and network coverage problems, may have an influence on the quality of the user experience as well. The mobile phone enables an instantaneous news, information and discussion channel for the mass media. Indeed, the role of the mobile phone in participatory media making could be further developed in media companies. Furthermore, the possibilities of mobile phones are not yet fully utilized in crisis communication. More likely, the role of the mobile phone as an interactive link between the personal user and social and mass media will increase in the future.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor Degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Tampere University
    • Seppänen, Janne, Supervisor, External person
    Award date28 May 2010
    Place of PublicationEspoo
    Print ISBNs978-951-38-7394-3
    Electronic ISBNs978-951-38-7395-0
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • mobile media
    • media convergence
    • multi-method
    • ethnography
    • user studies


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