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Accepted Paper:

Mobilizing Mobilities: the software steering our movement  
Paula Bialski (University of St. Gallen)

Paper short abstract:

Based on a 2-year ethnography situated at a large mapping and navigation company in Berlin, this paper frames mobility software as providing a specific ordering of daily life of an urban commuter, expanding our notion of what navigation technology is.

Paper long abstract:

Today's car ride or walking route - if assisted by a navigation system - entails a multitude of computer-mediated manoeuvres and routing procedures, with a car processing probe data such as road traffic and car speed. Behind the software that helps navigate the car, sit a team of software developers who attempt to optimize a route - helping reduce the number of factors that can affect how a car gets from point A to B.

Based on a 2-year ethnography situated at a large mapping and navigation company in Berlin, this paper frames mobility software as providing a specific ordering of daily life of an urban commuter. Instead of looking at the effects of a navigation system on its users, this research uncovers the way software developers collaborate on constituting a technology, and the way in which software emerges and becomes stabilized as a 'being' that routes us around. Thus, this case study expands our understanding of our everyday navigation technologies by providing a greater insight into the sociotechnical software system that enables it. To reach this understanding, this paper highlights the temporal and normative orders inherent in the engineering of software, emphasizing the perspective of software developers in the way they build our navigation infrastructure.

Panel P063
Everyday mobilities and circulation of people, things and ideas: Expanding the concept of technology from what makes us mobile [ANTHROMOB]