Monday, December 22, 2014

Data driven?

At this year's LRA conference I found myself repeatedly asking whether presenters felt that their video data was producing them, rather than the other way around. It probably sounded like someone trying to make a clever point, so I thought it might be worth trying to unpick what I was driving at. The thought first occurred to me a while back when it seemed as if researchers had 'discovered' mobility, as if it was something akin to a previously overlooked landmass - already there, but as yet unchartered. At that point I wondered whether that new interest in movement was simply a by-product of moving image technology. Were we simply seeing what our technology enabled us to see? Looking back then, was that earlier fascination with spoken interaction, turn-taking, transcripts and all the paraphernalia of oracy simply the result of affordable recording devices and magnetic tape? Thinking in this way might just exemplify how data produces us - and also at the same time how technologies of data capture enact exclusions. In our rush to study mobility do we ignore turn-taking, or indeed anything that falls outside the frame? You could take the argument to another level, as Barad does in Meeting the Universe Halfway, when she argues that 'technoscientific practices play a role in producing the very phenomena they set out to describe.' (207:2007). Or on an everyday level you could see how the way the iPhone camera gets used creates a new way of seeing the world. That wide angle lens, the heightened colour values, and also the simple ubiquity of the phone itself melds with our experience in new ways, creating radical departures from photography as it was. Put that into a slideshow (as above) and the way we participate in the world is changed.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


In writing about virtual worlds and video games recently, I found myself reaching deep into 'the canon'  to illustrate the enduring appeal of imaginary worlds. Using the Tempest I rehearsed the idea that dramatic performance, and the imaginary world that is conjured up by it, is an 'insubstantial pageant', with a cast of characters involved in a sequence of events that we temporarily believe in. Following this I argued that a play could be seen as a prototypical virtual world - as an event-space that is real enough, and takes place in real time with all the material supports of a theatre or similar venue. Members of the audience are embodied and present, but yet the world they are transported into is constructed in their individual imaginations, and filtered through their own particular lived experiences. Of course video games are different in all sorts of ways- ways which I won't go into here, but my intention was to argue for the familiarity (and cultural history) of what you might call imagined worlds. Attending the launch of the Reading Digital Fiction exhibition on Thursday evening, I was struck by how a different discipline works its way into the same territory. In her succinct opening remarks Astrid Ensslin reminded us how digital fiction sits somewhere between literary fiction and video gaming, as well as how print fiction lives on whilst digitally-born narrative continues to evolve.  The common thread of how new and old narratives work to engage our imaginations emerges again, along with the idea that digital technology often end up troubling existing categories such as the distinctions between games and stories, art and life, the real and the imagined. It was a successful thought-provoking event, and underscores the fact that digital fiction is now old enough to have a history.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Deep reading

I've not been posting for a while because I've been on a long break in Nepal and Tibet - but somehow or other a complete break isn't quite as complete as you might think. Noticing the impact of the digital on everyday life seems to have become a way of life, and I found myself observing and photographing the different ways in which devices and texts are woven into lives that on the surface at least seem rather different. This is a monk at Boudanath, Kathmandu reading  a Tibetan scripture on an iPad as part of a devotional practice - one of many examples of how digital texts become absorbed into cultural practices. Reading Will Self about the impact of new technology on what he calls 'deep reading', I found myself recalling this image. Is this 'deep'...or did it suddenly become shallow because its read on an iPad? Clearly not. But of course, in an otherwise intelligent and nuanced piece, Self is actually equating the immersive experience of reading fiction with depth. Although he offers a balanced account, and is certainly not bemoaning the rise of digital text, there is a sadness in his tone. He thinks we have lost something. If he's right, though, its not depth we've lost, but a way of accessing imagined worlds.

Friday, August 01, 2014


Social networking sites and the ways in which they are folded into the socio-technical arrangements that frame the everyday lives of an ever-growing population are situated at the confluence of new forms of social organisation and a cultural imaginary that now extends beyond the limits of nation states and jurisdictions. Although to a large extent this is attributable to the adoption and reach of technologies it is also the product of a desire for new or enhanced practices of communication and connection, in its turn dependent upon the spread of a particular ideology of connectivity in the guise of an aspiration to be always present in the lives of others, and to be continually producing a sense of identity through a sort of restless activity of consumption and self-publication. It might almost seem that to be in the 21st century, is to perform a continually present and continuously updated social identity dependent upon making visible one's connections with others (boyd & Ellison, 2000). Take Instagram as a case in point. Here the image-trail that we leave is addressed to the other, is validated by family and friends, and is wittingly enacted on a canvas that is patently larger than the connections themselves, always cognisant of the wider network in which it is located. In this sense those who participate are repeatedly improvising and embellishing the @ reference point that they inhabit, that blue dot on the virtual map, always in relation to other @s and from time to time in relation to #things, #places, and #events. This may be the brave new world that we have created, but in itself it does not give us a full enough picture of contemporary social networks, because these are inherently promiscuous and perhaps best conceived as an assemblage of activity, a restless updating of lived experience, attitude and belief in textual threads that meander across multiple sites, and platforms both on- and off-line.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Death of the book

When asked recently about the impending death of the book it occurred to me that, just like the terms 'text' and 'literacy', new developments prompt us to rethink our definitions and terms of reference. If we think of the book as that familiar material object made up of printed paper bound together between hard or soft covers we are likely to think of the different platforms now available - platforms that turn the actual book into something like a virtual simulacrum of the 'original' object. Alternatively, if we think of the book as a particular form of writing - a reasonably lengthy piece defined by the generic conventions of literary fiction, reference and the like, we might think that the exponential growth in the number of titles available and the number of topics covered continues regardless of trends in format and distribution. In this sense, book sales remain high, and although e-book sales are rising rapidly there is no reason to believe that we are witnessing the death of the book. Take children's literature, fiction and non-fiction for young people as a case in point. These forms continue to attract some of the finest writers and illustrators, and although Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman is currently campaigning for more reading for pleasure, I don't believe that things are in terminal decline. Of course we want children to read, and to enjoy reading as a leisure activity, but we also need to recognise that new digital forms have an important a part to play in this. It's probably true to say that with the advent of widely available tools for digital communication, there is more reading and writing going on now than at any other point in our history. This means that there's more competition for our reading time, and of course narrative fiction has to compete with both film and videogaming for our attention. But, at the same time, print books continue to be popular and attractive (they gain media attention - witness the Harry Potter phenomenon) whilst on the other hand more authors and media producers are investigating what digital fiction might look like, and indeed how 'transmedia' narratives gain traction. In my own work I have shown how young children respond positively to interactive story apps on iPads and there are some great resources available - and huge potential for future development. However these developments don't sound the death knell for the book, they just provide more alternatives. Parents shouldn't be worried by the growing availability of resources like story apps - they should embrace them and allow them to take their place alongside familiar storybooks. Although school and public libraries are threatened by funding cuts, there are some compelling reports of libraries that have embraced digital media, giving them a proper place alongside more traditional forms. In short, books matter - we need to introduce children to them, celebrate them, own them, share them and lend them. But we also need to be aware of the alternatives and the exciting developments that are now possible.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Coming and going

Settling into a new location involves many small adaptions; adjustments that we make in order to stabilise the disturbance caused by the inconvenience of travel, the sudden breakdown of familiar routine, the disorientation that results from the disappearance of familiar landmarks, and all those major and minor details that when combined together have a tendency to make us recoil from the change we encounter. But with experience and perseverance I think we learn to cope. In fact we do surprisingly well. Our capacity for adaptation feels like a sort of survival instinct, and what's more, it seems to be written deep into the psyche. It appears, for instance, as if a territorial sensitivity has been awakened in us, as we attempt to read our surroundings in ways that will aid our navigation to avoid becoming lost. A keen attention to signs and landmarks springs up. Conscious noting of changes of direction are temporarily anchored to particular occurrences as we map our immediate location. In new urban contexts I invariably find myself walking in short bursts, building up an impression, staking out the territory, initially within something like a quarter of a mile radius of my temporary home, hotel or wherever I might be staying. Only when this is done, can I venture further afield daring, perhaps, to be temporarily lost until the familiar re-emerges once again in its reassuring way, like the shoreline out of a sea mist. Cussins (1992) calls this phenomenon perspective-dependence. He argues that we understand where we are, in other words the territory, by making 'cognitive trails'. This is our way of achieving stabilisation. And what's even more interesting is that this activity can work as a metaphor for learning in a more general sense. Although Engestrom (2009) applies this theory to mobile learning, surely it applies to all learning. We need to work out the territory, the key landmarks, the junctions and distinctive features. The quirky features, the dangerous areas, places that are under construction - they are all part of the jigsaw. Our cognitive trails are not like maps, although maps may be helpful, the key thing is inhabiting the space, albeit temporarily, but at least until navigating it becomes embodied. At that point, perhaps, it might be admitted that we have learnt something, even if our sense of territory is only modest, temporary or provisional. Then, of course, on our return, the familiar is re-awakened once more as we rapidly remember things that had been temporarily shelved away. The detail begins to fill in, just as it can 'rez' in a virtual world. And so it is that even though we can't go back in time, we can, as it were, go back in space; go back thanks to the cognitive trails we have blazed and the perspective-dependence we have achieved, the sum total of our prior learning. And that, it must be said, is very comforting indeed, and  perhaps one reason amongst many, why we call it home, sweet home!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Embodied expertise

Over the last couple of weeks I've been involved in a lot of discussion about how teaching and learning get conceptualised in the on/offline blend. Sometimes that has involved avatar instructors organising a kind of cybergogy, at other times the idea of heutagogy and on a more fundamental level the differences between VC delivery and face-to-face teaching. What becomes clear is that there are all sorts of different blends and possibilities for creative learning designs, and although institutional systems tend to be a bit primitive (with the exception of thin VLEs) there's plenty of ways to enrich the student experience. But in a discussion with Masters students, what impressed me most was the value they placed on the 'tutor in the room'. Here you got the sense that what I called embodied expertise has a significant, affective impact. Watching the expert, who is perceived as being at the cutting edge, thinking on her feet, responding to questions, outlining the dilemmas live and unplugged as it were, was still one of the most valued experiences. So, in situations in which this is still possible the real challenge is how to make other modes work effectively and creatively to free-up live performance. And of course, the related to challenge is to find the kinds of online experiences that could be the next best thing to witnessing embodied expertise.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Last week at the University of Greenwich I talked about new technology and the commodification of literacy. I used digital apps and playthings - aimed at very young children and their parents - as a way of exploring the tension between the opportunities and attractions of the digital, and the corporate interests that package and sell them. Erica Hateley in Children's Literacy, Learning and Culture expresses something similar when she writes that: 'As children are inducted younger and younger into particular modes of literacy, and particular dispositions as 'consuming citizens', researchers committed to learning from and contributing to young people's agency and social opportunities need to pay attention to what is happening culturally when reading and playing and literacy and learning means tapping, touching, swiping, and scrolling and combining online and offline activities.' (2013:39). I also pointed out how some of what is available carries an implicit message for parents - these are the sort of literacy routine that are important. This has been called the discourse of the 'good parent'. But this tension runs through everyday and institutionalised uses of technology at all levels - its potential both to free us and to enslave us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New book!

The increasing popularity of digitally-mediated communication is prompting us to radically rethink literacy and its role in education. In our new edited collection Cathy Burnett, Julia Davies, Jennifer Rowsell and I draw on cutting edge research from the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and South Africa to launch international debate around these changing literacies, how they might shape policy and practice, and how they articulate across national boundaries. Currently many national policies promulgate a view of literacy focused on the skills and classroom routines associated with print, and these are bolstered by regimes of accountability and assessment. As a result, teachers are caught between two competing discourses: one upholding a traditional conception of literacy and the other encouraging a more radical take on 21st century literacies driven by leading edge thinkers and researchers. The book explores studies of literacy practices in varied contexts through a refreshingly dialogic style, interspersed with commentaries which address the significance of the work described for education. The book concludes on the ‘conversation’ that develops to identify key recommendations for policy-makers through a Charter for Literacy Education. The book is due to be published by Routledge in July. Advance orders, library recommendations and more information can be found here.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Boxes of poison

Stacks of cardboard boxes are scattered around Barnsborough. Children's avatars might just discover them, and if they do, by hovering over them they will read a label that says 'boxes of poison'. Such a chance discovery might or might not map on to their interest, and to the play of narratives that emerges in this virtual world and the classroom in which it is accessed. And what is more this will only happen through extended, exploratory and open-ended action and interaction. Story building of this sort, whether it involves drama, videogaming, movie-making, virtual world play or immersive  engagement with written text, takes time and has multiple and complex learning outcomes that are not quantifiable or easy to measure. Although understanding narrative and the opportunities for problem-solving and generating hypotheses that are embedded within are generally understood to involve important habits of mind and learning dispositions, they have come under threat from a curriculum that is driven by simple, measurable outcomes, over-specified learning objectives and so-called evidence-based practice. Reclaiming this territory is fraught with difficulty, particularly when dominant discourses are pervasive, and present a regime of truth which evokes sentiments like investing in our children's future, securing high standards and developing a world-leading education system - who could criticise those virtuous ambitions? In a forthcoming piece provisionally titled 'Boxes of Poison' that's exactly what we'll attempt to do!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baroque Philadelphia

When Cathy and I worked on the data that later became Points of View, we experimented with deconstructing the notion of 'the event', partly because we found it hard to define any clear boundaries between different instances of meaning-making in the material we were dealing with, and our multiple readings of the data, the stacking stories we developed, highlighted increasing levels of complexity, rather than coalescing around a single version of what was happening in classroom virtual world play. We struggled to find a word for what we were observing - maybe occurrences or action sequences might work - otherwise just call it the project! Part of the problem with the idea of 'events', which we haven't so far articulated, is the way in which they tend to associate too easily with 'activities' or 'routines' in the world of literacy education. And one thing that is clear about the virtual worlds work is the way in which it challenges just those sorts of boundaries, planned learning sequences, activities, objectives and all the rest. In our AERA presentation, we deepened our baroque reading of the data, using this to critique simple, reductive models of literacy in classrooms. Cathy introduced the notion of a baroque pedagogy, an exuberant expression of free roaming gameplay, one that is hard to describe, hard to understand, but thoroughly absorbing for participants. But we also used baroque techniques to illuminate the heterogeneity of meaning-making in classrooms, and that, I think, will be at the heart of the next paper that we're working on.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Modal aggregates

Norris's work on modal aggregates is a powerful way of conceptualising the iPad data that I've recently been writing about. Although her argument that multimodal perspectives destabilise the primacy of language in social interaction is not exactly new, the focus on action, as a unit of analysis, helps to highlight the shifting dominance of modes - how, in her words, modal hierarchies fluctuate. In the sorts of multiparty interactions that occur between children, adults and iPads, we can see how deictic gestures, at times dominant, give way to spoken language, onscreen visual movements, object-handling and so on. Accepting that overall meanings are always greater than the sum of these modal parts, this perspective helps to incorporate materiality and embodiment into the analysis in useful ways. There are some limitations, though. The analytical work that Norris (2012) engages in places humans as social actors at the centre of the interaction, thus following in the footsteps of earlier sociolinguistic approaches, but in doing this objects are cast as rather mute associates. For example, in Norris's data, a painting is moved (object-handling mode), pointed at (deictic gestural mode), and then talked about. But when scripted material objects - like iPads - are so deeply woven into activity, I think we need a broader perspective, one which shows how things (such as technologies) can generate, initiate, or participate in action. Perhaps it would help to focus on developing accounts of action sequences with different trajectories - the vibrating alert from a mobile phone that heralds an incoming text message, prompting some email checking, a phone call and so on, for example. Thinking about fluctuating hierarchies in modal aggregates might well be a useful way of approaching and understanding the emerging patterns of communication associated with new technologies. This could then lead to a more sophisticated account of how objects participate in social interaction, bringing what we read in Latour to bear upon our discussions of multimodality and discourse analysis.

Monday, March 31, 2014

School collaboration

The idea of connecting schools and school children has been around for some time. Serving worthwhile goals of promoting cross-cultural understanding, developing language awareness and language skills and even contributing to wider notions of citizenship, school collaboration often ticks all the right boxes. Anastasia Gouseti's new book, Digital Technologies for School Collaboration, explores some of these themes and recognizes that although programmes that provide opportunities for transnational collaboration between schools have a respectable history, the potential expansion of these opportunities through new technology has yet to be evaluated in a principled way. Gouseti's book does just that. Based on a case studies of teachers' and students' experiences of the European eTwinning programme she provides a detailed analysis of the promises and pitfalls of web-based school collaboration. But the book is much more than that, providing an excellent overview and critique of the rhetoric associated with web 2.0 and 'participatory culture.' This is a book that is well-informed, well-argued and scholarly throughout, offering practical guidance on how to develop school collaboration through new media.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Is it a book or is it an app?

With World Book Day approaching, it is anticipated that children's literature and its authors will get plenty of coverage - but what about the growing market of digital fiction, e-books and story apps? Recent developments in app design have begun to show the way forward in new interactive texts for young children and work by researchers at the Sheffield Institute of Education and the University of Sheffield has been investigating the potential for using apps in story-sharing activity with young children.  We've seen how size, portability and touchscreen operation make tablets like the iPad attractive to young children and their teachers. And young children enjoy the interactive nature of some of the better story apps, and although it's still early days, the potential for innovative development is clear. Here's three examples of story apps for the iPad that show how the technology can be harmonised with story meaning to offer a strong learning experience for young children. For toddlers, Nighty Night is a great little app in which young children explore a farmyard scene, turning the lights off and saying goodnight to each of the animals (see here for more). This app depends on interaction from the reader who taps the screen in each location to move the story on. For slightly older children, there's a number of different versions of the traditional tale 'The Three Little Pigs' on the market - but the version by Nosy Crow is by far the most engaging and attractive. It's great the way that blowing into the microphone can involve children in the repetitive sequence of 'blowing the house down'. Young children love it! A more sophisticated story, 'The Heart and the Bottle' has been around for a while. It is beautifully illustrated and uses many of the iPad's multi-tasking gestures through a number of puzzles that are woven into the story. My favourite is the way that it uses the built-in accelerometer so that youngsters can create a snowfall by repeatedly shaking the iPad! In short, there are plenty of story apps out there, but these three really show the potential - and that lies in how an app can engage young children, actively involving them in making meaning. They won't be replacing print stories and picture books, but they certainly sit well alongside them. Whether they class as digital fiction, multimedia, or apps seems rather irrelevant. They are good stories, a new kind of book, and their development should be celebrated and encouraged on World Book Day.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Digital futures for teachers

The need for teachers to engage with digital literacies at all stages of education has been articulated in numerous policy documents and directives in many parts of the world. Often the economic desirability of 21st century skills is seen as the central rationale for this, but commentaries also make reference to the increasing importance of digital literacy in citizenship and participatory culture. In education theory and research, the importance of acknowledging and using children and young people’s knowledge of popular culture has become a key theme, with a growing number of studies addressing the rise of digital culture. In the face of this, educators now realize that levels of participation in popular digital culture vary considerably between populations and social groups (Warschauer and Matuchniak, 2010). To add further complication, the understandings and experiences that learners and their teachers have, and need, are rapidly changing as technology itself changes (Davies and Merchant, 2009). Preparing teachers to operate effectively in this volatile environment presents a number of challenges. In our chapter in this book we look at some of the driving and constraining forces, concentrating particularly on the ways in which open educational resources (OERs) may have the potential to support teachers and trainee teachers in developing their capacity to address the ‘digital challenge’ (Abrams and Merchant, 2012). All this receives a detailed treatment in the chapter that Julia and I have written for this collection (now available). The chapter draws on the work of the DefT project.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

In-story purchases

Last week I bought a goat, a spider and a stork. They cost 99p for the job lot. I know that because of the helpful receipt I got from iTunes. Now I've done some strange things in the name of virtuality, and this wasn't really one of them, but it is what they call a telling case. You see, as it turns out, I bought the goat, spider and stork as a way of upgrading my grandson's favourite story-app: the story that he calls 'Night Fours', which is his rendering of the opening line 'Night falls'. It's an app I recommend (it's real title is 'Nighty Night'). It's his favourite because it's an engaging app, and just right for 2-3 year olds. In the story, it's night time and most of the village is in darkness - apart, that is, from the farmhouse, which is still blazing with light. The reader is invited to 'go' to each light in the farmhouse, say goodnight to the animals found there and turn off the light. Once the light is turned off, there's no going back. Sure, you can return to the barn, the dog's kennel and so on, but they've gone to sleep and there's nothing at all you can do about it. It's a simple scenario, that helps with prediction, naming animals, and the simple and repetitive night time rituals of saying goodnight and turning off the light. So in this way it does what good picture books tend to do, in supporting language, helping children to make predictions and making connections to firsthand experience. What might the app add then? Well first off, even though, it's made for sharing, the child can look at it independently and still hear the story being told - a small gain admittedly, but nonetheless a difference from a print book. Then there is the important fact that it is user-driven. This happens in two ways: firstly, the animals and insects won't go to sleep unless you switch off (tap) the light  and secondly, the order in which this is done is entirely up to the reader - so it's not unilinear, the child dictates the reading path. Because this is an app for young children, these features are simple and easy to see, but  imagine if they were scaled-up and you begin to glimpse the future of digital fiction. Rather like a videogame, you are in 'Nighty Night' because you change the story environment as you go along. And then, of course, there's the upgrade I started with. I really enjoyed the surprise Dylan felt when he suddenly discovered that, overnight, more animals had moved into the farmhouse! The potential for a story that has add-ons is quite something. Of course, the same business model as in-game purchases is lurking behind the scenes - but I want to keep that in proportion. The app plus add-ons, is cheaper than most good quality picture books for this age-group.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Make up money

I'm posting a picture of make-up. In fact I'm posting two pictures of make-up - and that might just be a first for this blog.  It's a photograph of what my mother would call a powder compact, or perhaps more simply a compact. I asked my daughter what she called it. Make-up, she said. It's a pleasingly shaped hinged box in black plastic, which snaps closed with a satisfying 'pock', and as you can see there's a delicate flower-like design in gold on the front. By contrast my mother's were weighty metallic things with an enamal finish. Enough to lend some substance to your handbag, I should imagine. But this is make-up with a difference. It's money. Or to be a bit more accurate it's got purchasing power......just a prototype, I know, but it works. And it may well be the shape of things to come. Probably the next big thing, if indeed something so small can be called big. And here's where the second picture comes in. You see you flip it over, and there's the evidence, in the Mastercard contactless chip which is embedded in the plastic case. Neat. And that allows you to buy things with make-up, and it's what I call new. It made me think of the slow demise of currency. Remember, I'm old enough to
remember decimalisation. When all of a sudden there were 100 shiny new pennies to a pound compared to twelve shillings, or whatever awkward amount we had before. And now it's all turning into plastic. Spending is gradually becoming more abstract, several steps away from the real thing. No wonder so many people get into debt! Of course that idea of coins  as the 'real thing' is actually a strange convergence of the material and the abstract. Maybe currency only has any real meaning at the point of transaction. And financial transaction itself is built on a sort of tacit social contract. Now I'm sure economists have better ways of talking about this, but the one thing I'm sure of is that the money business is looking very different as mobile digital technology takes hold. Take the fascinating emergence of mobile exchanges in Kenya. Read about it here, if you haven't caught the story - and this isn't about smartphones, we're talking basic models, here. What a wonderful illustration of the ways in which social groups take up the affordances of mobile technology and make it work for them to fulfil their needs. In fact, I can see myself doing the Kenya thing rather than carrying around make-up (or cufflinks, apparently).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Translocal assemblages

In the current book project New Literacies around the Globe, we've had to confront some of the myths surrounding the idea of 'the global' as unbounded free space. In its place we use the term 'global assemblages' (from McFarlane, 2009) to capture how complex and multiple forces coalesce as place-based events. We suggest that these events are constituted by the exchange of ‘ideas, knowledge, practices, materials and resources across sites’(McFarlane, 2009:561) as language and power intersect with socioeconomic status. Although the word 'global' is so much easier, it often erases all this. Increases in the extent of broadband connectivity, and growing access to resources (particularly powerful handheld devices) is accelerating the sorts of exchanges that constitute translocal assemblages. But this isn't a universally even process. In the studies featured in the book, we see how practices are patterned by local forces as cultural resources are accessed (or not), appropriated and recontextualised within specific social networks. To be specific: things like PlayStations, jacuzzis,and mobile phones take on different meanings in different settings and practices like texting, chatting and flirting are given local nuances. More often than not, in translocal assemblages we see that sociotechnical practices are absorbed into existing ideologies, sustaining and sometimes amplifying them. In other words, technologies and the global flows that are associated with them rarely flatten out inequalities, but they certainly can draw our attention to them.