NCSU Department of Communication

COM598M::Mobile Technologies and Social Practices
Instructor: Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva



Class schedule



Readings & resources


Contact information:
Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva
Assistant Professor
NCSU Department of Communication

Class meetings:
Wednesdays, 3:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Winston 209

Class website:

Winston 201K

Office hours:
By appointment.


Course Description:
This graduate seminar explores the emergence of mobile communication technologies and its influence on communication patterns and social behavior. It conceptualizes cell phones beyond mobile telephones (two-way voice communication devices). Rather, it defines the mobile interface as a micro-computer, a remote control and a game device. The seminar focuses on the history, current uses and future perspectives for the social use of mobile interfaces. How do mobile interfaces change our perception of both digital and physical spaces? Do they allow the creation of new types of communities? How do the uses of mobile images (still and video) influence the way we communicate and deal with information spaces? How does the use of mobile technology differ in distinct parts of the world, like Asia, Scandinavia, North and South America? The course engages students on discovering new sociability patterns created by mobile interfaces.


Course objectives:
Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Conceptualize cell phones as interfaces.
  • Conceptualize the mobile Internet.
  • Understand place-specific uses of cell phones
  • Define the relationship among cell phones, places and spaces.
  • Draw connections between cell phones usage and the construction of hybrid spaces.
  • Understand the history of wireless technologies.
  • Understand basic concepts of cellular technology.
  • Identify how mobile, location aware and wireless interfaces can influence communication and society, changing perceptions of urban spaces.


As this is a graduate level course, I won’t be taking attendance every class. However, I expect that you come to every meting and act as an active participant in the class discussions. The success of a seminar type class depends on the level of participation and involvement of the students. Participation entails not only attending the class but coming prepared having done all the readings, having made an honest attempt at understanding the author’s argument, and bringing reading notes and questions you’d like to ask. Should you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes and explanations from a classmate.

One of the premises that make a good researcher is the level of curiosity and independence that you achieve in your research work. As a graduate a student, I expect you to be interested in and curious about the topic, and not expecting me to tell you step by step what to do. Part of your grade depends on your creativity and ability to look for outside sources and information by yourself. I am here to guide you, not to give you all the answers.


Course structure and Evaluation:
This course is run as a seminar. Learning in a seminar format depends upon preparation and involvement by the students as well as the professor. Therefore, it is very important that you not only read the assigned material, but also that you critically examine and interrogate it. The following questions should help you to do so:

  • What are the main ideas and concepts of the text?
  • How does this text connect with other readings in the course, class discussions, as well as with relevant outside materials?
  • To what extent does this text allow me to understand mobile technologies in general and cell phones in particular? How does it apply to practical ventures/my own experience?
  • What doesn’t make sense to me? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this text?

Each class, one student will be responsible for presenting a text and leading class discussion. As the text discussion is also part of your presentation grade, you are also responsible for your colleague’s grade (as she or he is responsible for yours). So coming to class prepared to answer and ask questions is a fundamental part of this assignment.

A general task to be performed along the course is the development of a database of sources (scholarly and non-scholarly) about mobile technologies usages and interfaces. You need to bring in newspaper /magazine clippings, ads, web pages, exhibit announcements, video clips, or any other artifact you may run across that in relate to the issues raised in the readings for that class period. Each student should plan on bringing at least one source each week. A digital version of you source will also be posted on the class wiki / weblog. If it is a website, you can post the URL


Mobile technologies database: 15%
Weekly blog posts: 15%
Text presentation 1: 15%
Text presentation 2: 15%
Final paper: 20%
Final project: 20%

I will be grading on the University's A+/F scale, as follows:

  • 98-100 = A+
  • 93-97 = A
  • 90-92 = A-
  • 88-89 = B+
  • 83-87 = B
  • 80-82 = B-
  • 78-79 = C+
  • 73-77 = C
  • 70-72 = C-
  • 68-69 = D+
  • 63-67 = D
  • 60-62 = D-
  • below = F


Policy Statements


Plagiarism is an act of deceit that is taken very seriously by the Department of Communication and by the University. Plagiarism is writing using someone's works -- be it word or ideas -- without givin her or him credit. If you are found plagiarizing you risk failure and even more stringent disciplinary actions. This is particularly important with web-based materials. If you use someone else's image/words/audio, you must give approppriate credit. For an extended explanation of plagiarism, please go to:


Statement of equal opportunity

All persons, regardless of age, race, religion, gender, physical disability or sexual orientation shall have equal opportunity without harassment in Communication Department courses and programs. Any harassment or discrimination should be reported immediately to either the classroom instructor or the Department Head.


Statement on Accessibility for Students with Disabilities

NC State is subject to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 provides that:

“No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States… shall, solely by reason of his handicap be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

This regulation includes students with hearing, visual, motor, or learning disabilities and states that colleges and universities must make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure that academic requirements are not discriminatory. Modifications may require rescheduling classes from inaccessible to accessible buildings, providing access to auxiliary aids such as tape recorders, special lab equipment, or other services such as readers, note takers, or interpreters. It further requires that exams actually evaluate students’ progress and achievements rather than reflect their impaired skills. This may require oral or taped tests, readers, scribes, separate testing rooms, or extension of time limits.

Section 84.47 (b) of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare regulations implementing Section 504 deals in particular with academic and vocational counseling. When advising disabled students, advisers should be careful not to guide them, because of their handicap, toward a more restrictive program or career than would be appropriate for a non disabled student. Factual information, such as licensing requirements, etc., that may present obstacles to disabled students should they decide to pursue a particular career or program, may be presented in an objective fashion.

Source: NC State Handbook on Advising and Teaching (


Statement of academic integrity and dishonesty

Academic integrity: “The free exchange of ideas depends on the participants’ trust that they will be given credit for their work. Everyone in an academic community must be responsible for acknowledging, using the methods accepted by the various academic disciplines, their use of others’ words and ideas. Since intellectual workers’ words and ideas constitute a kind of property, plagiarism is theft. (…) Plagiarism and cheating are attacks on the very foundation of academic life, and cannot be tolerated within universities.”

Academic dishonesty: “Academic dishonesty is the giving, taking, or presenting of information or material by a student that unethically or fraudulently aids oneself or another on any work which is to be considered in the determination of a grade or the completion of academic requirements or the enhancement of that student's record or academic career.

A student shall be guilty of a violation of academic integrity if he or she:

  • Represents the work of others as your own;
  • Obtains assistance in any academic work from another individual in a situation in which you are expected to perform independently;
  • Gives assistance to another individual in a situation in which that individual is expected to perform independently;
  • Offers false data in support of laboratory or field work.”

If you are in doubt regarding any matter relating to the standards of academic integrity in this course or on an assignment, consult with me before presenting the work. By submitting an assignment to be evaluated, you are certifying that you have not received unauthorized help on assignment.

Source: NCSU code of Student Conduct, approved by the Board of Trustees on 2/17/90. Please review the full text of the code on the web at