Demanding Connectivity, Demanding Charging: The Co-production of Mobile Communication Between Electrical and Digital Infrastructures
Smartphones connect users to the Internet while on the move: these devices harness always-on wireless connectivity, powered by batteries in need of regular charging. Supporting the mobile communication of smartphones is the infrastructure of wireless connectivity and the global Internet itself. Both systems require not-insignificant amounts of electricity. Emerging social practices of using and charging smartphones in transit offer an entry point to theorizing energy needs surrounding information-communication technologies (ICTs) beyond home and workspaces, in public and in motion. An ethnographic travel narrative is presented, detailing charging practices in train stations in the Northeast United States, on trains, and the energy demand of a nearby data center. This narrative provides an overview of the merged infrastructures that facilitate new social practices and create new forms of energy demand.
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