Wall-Window-Screen: How the Cell Phone Mediates a Worldview for Us

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Abstract
The article proposes to model the phenomenon of the cell phone as a wall-window. This model aims at explicating some of the perceptions and experiences associated with cellular technology. The wall-window model means that the cell phone simultaneously separates the user from the physical surroundings (the wall), and connects the user to a remote space (the window). The remote space may be where the interlocutor resides or where information is stored (e.g. the Internet). Most cell phone usage patterns are modeled as a single dimension according to the level of distraction or attention of the user. In order to accommodate nuanced situations such as augmented reality, I suggest a two-dimensional layout: the wall-window. The wall represents the attention to the immediate physical environment, while the window represents the attention to a remote space. The wall-window model further evolves once a screen is woven into this layout. This addition is easily understood due to the screen’s etymology, which is associated with the concepts of shield or barrier. From a technical perspective, the screen has become an integral part of the cell phone. Furthermore, a screen itself is both a wall and a window. Lastly, once a cell phone is supplemented with a screen, it is easier to refer to it as media. And again, media fits into the wall-window model.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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2013-09-25

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