HomeMore (and what it means for the community)

HomeMore

 

The driving idea behind the application I have gone about conceiving is the capability of aid being available to young homeless individuals wherever they may be, which essentially comes down to mobility and the seamless communication between devices to and from those locations, wherever they may be. The app draws from and relates to the various different types of mobility, specifically on temporal and spatial mobility. Just the presence of smartphones out in an urban setting alone changes the situation not just for individuals, but also for the homeless community as a whole. Simple access to the internet with the addition of photo and video documentation capabilities not only can help these people, but it can also give them more of a voice. (Kakihara)

 

HomeMore isn’t just about distributing phones to homeless youths however, the point is to put phones in hands so that the app can be used widely. The app will utilize texting phone calls, location services, and mobile internet. For every young person using the app, there is a counselor or contact on the other end. While phones are moving with the homeless individuals, all the information goes back and forth between them and a hub. The point of this whole app however is the media needs to be flexible and mobile. For this reason, aside from professional counselors, the app would also incorporate a volunteer system. Given the average person’s tendency to spend time on their phone and communicate in public, it would make sense to take advantage of this. (Turkle) Anyone with a smart phone who downloads the app can apply to be a sort of mobile contact for a homeless youth on the other end with whom they can communicated with. That way, neither is confined to one place necessary to access the information. Mobile counselors could have the option of how many young homeless individuals they would like to work with and vice versa, the homeless can have several contacts.

 

The app doesn’t utilize phone numbers or personal information however so as to protect the information privacy of the user whether the homeless user or not. Instead, all communication goes through the app. If the counselor and the individual wish to exchange that information, that comes down to their discretion.

There is the possibility however, that distributing these phones with camera capabilities would create a certain type of surveillance that could not be controlled by any organization or outside force. Individuals with cameras are going to take pictures and videos, and those same individuals will likely upload them if the internet is available. As much as this may be a problem for those who do not wish to be observed, it has to be taken into consideration how prolific “social surveillance” already is in really any setting now, regardless of the presence of any app. All this would be doing is it would expand what already exists into newer areas and given how difficult this is to control, it might just be worth looking at as a trade-off something worth dealing with in exchange for such a beneficial product. Marwick discusses this social surveillance in the context of employed individuals who likely don’t suffer from poverty and homelessness. (Marwick)

 

When it comes to using the phones, we cannot assume that the phones can just be handed out and everyone will know how to use them right out of the box. I am not saying the homeless are all so out of touch that one would not understand, but only so much can be discerned from unstructured learning. Some, if given a phone could very possibly not know quite what to do with it and given the number of illiterate adults in the world (Chipchase), it’s entirely possible that some of these individuals would be illiterate. Chipchase makes some good points on how cell phones can help someone who is illiterate communicate and can aid in the accomplishment of tasks that require some degree of literacy. However, the article was written in 2008, shortly after the release of the first iPhone and before the smartphone became so prolific in society and since then mobile communication has grown and shifted in staggering amounts. Chipchase did speak on the method of learning how to use a device through trial and error. However, the faster individuals get to use these devices, the more quickly the benefits can begin to take place. (Chipchase) For this reason, there would either have to be a course for the users to attend, or the app would have to have a feature or interface specifically laid out for easy use.

 

Although the added stimuli of smartphones into a homeless community may bring some adverse or unwanted effects, like surveillance and a location tracker, the benefits to come from such an application far outnumber those and past the simple enough matter of educating both the homeless individuals as well as the mobile counselors on how to best use the app, change can begin to take place fairly quickly.

Work Cited:

 

Chipchase, Jan. (2008). “Reducing Illiteracy as a Barrier to Mobile Communication.” In Katz, J. E. (Ed.). Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. P. 79-89

 

Kakihara, Masao & Sorensen, Carsten. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. SIGGROUP Bulletin, 22(3), 33-37.

 

Marwick, Alice. (2012). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society. 9(4): 378-393.

 

Turkle, Sherry. (2008). “Always-On/Always-On-You: The Tethered Self.” In Katz, J. E. (Ed.). Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. P. 121-137.

The NYC Rescue Mission is Working Out Of Your Pocket

The NYC Rescue Mission App provides a means for finding shelter and care for the homeless individuals of New York City and parts of the surrounding area. The app has a wide range of options available at the bottom of the screen that include resources, outreach, sharing tabs (Facebook, Twitter) and a tab for reporting. The purpose of the report tab is so that one can alert the mission to a homeless individual who seems to be in need. The app then asks the user to list the time, the date, location and gender of the person along with any apparent injuries or illnesses plus a window for any additional information. From downloading the app myself and exploring the services and functions, the targeted demographic does not seem to be the actual homeless population of New York City so much as it is the residents of the city with regular access to iPhones and iPads.

The app is certainly ambitious in nature and it packages as many resources as it can to make the mobile medium helpful to its cause. It does seem however, from a User-Centered point of view, to be centered around mostly around people who are not homeless as opposed to putting these resources in the hands of the homeless population. (Light, A., & Luckin, R.) Though the app is available to download at no cost to the user, the app is limited to the Apple, iPhone and iPad, alienating any potential users that don’t have any access to such products. For those who do have iPhones however, from what I can see from the app itself, the design itself lends itself to being fairly simple as far as usability is concerned and though I can’t say for sure, it looks like users were brought in early in the developmental process taking on a participatory role in making the design easier to use. (Light, A., & Luckin, R.) The app looks polished and works well without really any learning curve along with included support of maps showing locations of shelters. It certainly seems to be effective in accomplishing its goals of bringing help to homeless peoples. It is also oriented toward social media with included videos from the mission’s youtube channel with reports and videos such as this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnM0BmSNdLgt

Although the app does not outright track the user or doesn’t record any information about the user innately, part of the reporting process is including the location of homeless individuals. Yes, it is being used for a good cause, but that information is still being reported to the mission meaning that it is out there and recorded and some individuals might not want that to happen. Though the app is mostly targeted towards people who are not homeless, it is possible for a homeless individual to have a phone themselves to use the service which could in turn lead to them being tracked by other parties.  This article from the Washington Post shows clearly that police are more than capable of tracking cell phones and if a homeless person wants to use a phone for this app, but still would want to avoid that kind of attention, there really is no way to avoid that. (Fung)

The app does seem a bit limited in design. There is no zoom capability available and because it is an application instead of a webpage, there is no translate function and the app is defaulted to English, assuming that all who would want to use the services read English. (Soederquist)

The app is not perfect but it does have many helpful tools and functions and is a modern and efficient use of mobile teechnologies.


Fung, B. (2014). How hard should it be for cops to track your location? A new lawsuit revives the debate.

Light, A., & Luckin, R. (2008). Designing for social justice: people, technology, learning.

Soederquist. (2012). “Why mobile Web accessibility matters- best practices to make your mobile site accessible” from mobiForge.

Putting Smartphones in Young, Homeless Hands

In an age of information and technology, more and more issues everyday are being alleviated with the use of mobile technology and apps. Some causes lend themselves more to technology than others however. In the case of urban homelessness,if an application were to be used for this, the question arises of who this application would be targeted to. Although it concerns homeless individuals, one must take into consideration the extent of these people’s access to technology, if any. Given such a wide array of types of homelessness, it is difficult to predict whether someone can gain access to a computer or a phone. A study done in 2014 entailed a research team giving prepaid phones to 98 homeless youths. The participants were screened in a shelter that is tailored specifically to homeless youths between the ages of 18 and 21. Once given the phones, the participants were contacted for follow up meetings and interviews. The study showed that these youths were most likely to contact the researchers through text messaging and phone calling rather than by means of Facebook messaging. After the first rounds of interviews, a large portion of the youths were retained. (Bender) This not only shows that a large demographic of the homeless population would use technology if offered but it shows even how they prefer to use it. This shows that taking the risk of providing homeless youths with such technology could certainly be very much worth it.

Though the study was certainly successful, it does not provide much more information than how the youths prefer to communicate and how many chose to remain in the study. While useful, this is really only a basis for all that could be accomplished through a program that utilizes an approach like this one. Assuming that phones through some means or another could be distributed to young and homeless individuals, an application targeted towards these same youth is the next logical step. A large concern with homeless youths is that they will get involved with drugs or crime. I believe with the intervention of mobile technology, the numbers of homeless youths going down such paths can be curbed. The way to do this would be to create an app that would allow young homeless individuals to check in with advisors and counselors from anywhere and conversely, allow these same professionals to reach out to these people if a long amount of time passes without any check-in. With such a service, communication would become immensely more efficient. Shelters could advertise when there is open space and could provide a hub for youths to come and if there is not room, an alert can be broadcast.

The numbers of youths using these could be useful as well seeing as percentages and statistics of homeless youths are often all over the board. (Murphy) Hopefully, an application such as this could aid in more accurate statistics.

Of course, there is the issue of how many of these devices could conventionally distributed and how best to make sure youths stick with the program. If the app is not beneficial almost immediately, that could potentially mean a lost phone and youth already.

Bender, K., Begun, S., DePrince, A., Haffejee, B., & Kaufmann, S. (2014). Utilizing Technology for Longitudinal Communication With Homeless Youth. Social work in health care, 53(9), 865-882.

 

Murphy, J., & Tobin, K. (2014). Homelessness in the U.S.: a historical analysis. American Educational History Journal, 41(1-2), 267+.

Homelessness: Difficult to Diagnose and Harder to Still To Cure

When living in a large city, it becomes difficult to ignore the seemingly ever-growing issue of homelessness. However the more I have read into the matter, the more I have come to realize that homelessness is not at all a “new” condition. America has had an issue with a homeless population since the early 18th century. This “‘long and rich history’ of homelessness” (Murphy, J., & Tobin, K.) is made even more difficult to gain a grasp on given the unspecific rules as far as classification as “homeless” are concerned. There are a wide range of peoples who are considered “homeless.” Some living in boxes and cars, others in homeless shelters, others entirely in the street.

Although the matter has been evident and present for quite some time now, a recent development is the large increase in the homeless population since the 1980’s. Great efforts are being made now to curb this growth, but something about the past few decades has led to unsettling numbers of homeless individuals. Perhaps however, part of the problem is not solely that there are simply more homeless peoples, but in recent years, the issue is becoming more visible. A large part of this is that there definitely are more homeless people. Shelters and skid row are overflowing and though statistics show a decrease from the 1990’s, the problem still very much exists. One especially depressing part of these statistics is the number of homeless children. With children, the circumstances do not change however and the numbers are not entirely solid. The best researches can come up with are educated estimates at best so there is not a definitively clear picture of how many homeless youths there are in America. However, what researchers do know is that number is quite high. Though “‘there is virtually no aspect of homeless existence that does not aid in the destruction of a person’s well being, whatever age, race, or gender,’ it is especially harmful for children…and unaccompanied youth (Murphy, J., & Tobin, K.).” The rise of children and women panhandling may in part be part of the reason that the problem is more visible as of late than in earlier years.

Many mayors and elected officials have made promises to eradicate their cities and districts of this issue but often they often “regretted their promises to end the crisis quickly and saw it outlive their terms of office (Hambrick, R. S., & Johnson, G. T. ).” Given that there seem to be so many degrees of homelessness, there are also many possible solutions. It is difficult to find a cure-all for an issue with such a wide range of characteristics. This is not to say that solutions have not been explored. One method used in the past has been through political means and the utilization of legislation and housing programs. President Obama’s administration started the Opening Doors program in 2010 to bring an end to all types of homelessness. This was the first initiative of its type and hopefully marks the beginning of many more programs like it to come. (Johnston, M., & Kunkel, L.)

Works Cited:

Hambrick, R. S., & Johnson, G. T. (1998). The future of homelessness. Society, 35(6), 28-37.

Johnston, M., & Kunkel, L. (2014). What It Will Take to End Homelessness. World Medical & Health Policy, 6(2), 112-117.

Murphy, J., & Tobin, K. (2014). Homelessness in the U.S.: a historical analysis. American Educational History Journal, 41(1-2), 267+.

Conor’s Digital Essay 1

Media exists as a means of expansion of the human mind and it’s capabilities. It’s why we have found evidence on evidence of ancient writings and inscriptions on stone and sequentially, papyrus. Even then, mankind not only sought to catalogue life and to hold its information, but we we continually searching for efficient means. This is the reason the human race is even discussing Augmented Reality  in everyday life instead of continuing to right in simple terms on stone walls. (Athwal, A.)

As a testament to our dedication to media, the discussion currently is not centered around the question of whether or not Augmented Reality is possible, but as to how it can be implemented and how soon. Concerns go around as to privacy and how it will affect one’s right to such privacy. Humans are very concerned about the state of their media and over history humans have made the tremendous leaps in technology necessary to be able to even consider media ours. Almost the entire reason anyone today can even say a piece of information is “theirs” and is stored for them only is because more often than not, media today is widely distributed, a phenomenon that owes itself an awful lot to Gutenberg’s printing press.

Handtiegelpresse_von_1811

For the first time, people became accustomed to the ability to spread media at a rapid and accurate rate, something that until recently could only have been theorized about. this was the beginning of mankind’s familiarity with media from various sources that are not mouth to mouth. Up until this point, most people were illiterate, the reason for this being that print was not nearly the most efficient method of spreading information. (Deibert, R. J.)

At this point, communication because to take of at extreme speeds. Spurred by expanding civilizations, telegraph becomes the preferred method of communicating over great distances due to its convenience, conciseness and accuracy. Henry David Thoreau expressed concern over the fact that in spending so much effort and time in constructing these means of communication that we would have nothing important to relay to each other through them.

In the article by Lioa and Humphreys, they speak about Spatial practices. Specifically they say that, “Spatial practice is how people consciously and unconsciously alter, adapt, and appropriate objects and space for their own ends” (Liao, T., & Humphreys, L.). Although they are technically addressing the way a person behaves and interacts with local space, this theory still very much applies to the idea of media and communication over great distances. Traditionally, before telegraph technology progressed sufficiently, a great distance meant that there was nearly zero communication between two parties. However, within very little time, humans adapt pretty easily to using these means of communication. (Liao, T., & Humphreys, L.)

With the telegraph gaining traction and Alexander Graham Bell having invented the telephone, for the first time, the global communication network was being formed. When Bell and his partners went on to fund American Telephone and Telegraph Company it allowed general consumers to subscribe to the service and make use of its tools and advantages. (Goggin, G.) Allowing people to use this technology personally is ultimately why it has been so successful. The ability to say whatever they’d like and send it or say it to whomever they’d like with little to no regulation was an ideal practice and the key to how well it turned out.

Up until, this technology was not truly mobile as, though it allowed users to be spread to all different parts of the world while using it, it still did not allow for really any flexibility in movement when in use. It was not until 1910 with the first mobile telephone that the idea of traveling freely while communicating was really considered. Though it took nearly a hundred years for the technology to completely come into its own and be widely excepted in life, it was a beginning of this movement towards truly mobile media. (Farman, J.) although interesting, the mobile car phone that Swedish Engineer, Lars Magnus Ericsson had made was interesting, thought provoking and a beginning of very successful  mobile technology, it was not practical. At this point there are ten million telephone users in the world, so clearly the technology is garnering interest. (Goggin, G.)

In 1945, CB radio sets became available for personal consumer purchase and following this, all forms of radio began to gain traction, hitting home the ideals of one taking information with them wherever they may go. It was in the seventies that citizen’s Band radio became a widely used form of communication being put in many cars and trucks of the time. (Goggin, G.)

In the 21st century, all of these staggering technological advances culminated in the use of mobile phones and iPods, devices that allowed every person to carry media with them. These are just evidence that as media have progressed, humans have looked to immerse themselves more and more into devices, beginning with the ability to carry them with the at all times. It only makes sense that mankind would wish to integrate this technology into their lives even more to the point that augmented reality becomes a standard.

Athwal, A. (2004). Harold Innis and comparative politics: A critical assessment.Canadian Journal of Political Science, 37(02), 259-280.

Deibert, R. J. (1995). Hypermedia (Doctoral dissertation, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA).

Farman, J. (2012). Historicizing Mobile Media. The Mobile Media Reader, 9-22.

Goggin, G. (2012). Cell phone culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. Routledge.

Liao, T., & Humphreys, L. (2014). Layar-ed places: Using mobile augmented reality to tactically reengage, reproduce, and reappropriate public space. New Media & Society, 1461444814527734.

Printing press. (2015, February 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:13, February 1, 2015

Conor’s Intro

Howdy, howdy, howdy,

I’m Conor. I like visual media an awful lot.

Well, that just about sums me up, but I am at this time, far from the 300 word count. I would have hyphenated that but, you know: more spaces, more words, more money. Or no money. Wait, no. Hyphen still counts as a space. That’s fine too. Right! Media! Mobile Media. Alright. Here we go. I usually enjoy discussing media theories in a general but because this course is more centered around the emerging mobile media and emergent technology, I expect the discussion to be increasingly relevant to our everyday lives. It interests me that we go about our daily lives with such immense social and commuting power in our pockets, yet we rarely stop to think about the impact it is currently having and will have in years to come. We live in a pivotal time concerning the way information works and travels and what I hope is that somehow I can, with the help of this course, find a way to better wrap my head around this fact and more aptly find ways to discuss it. For the course of the semester I hope to meet like-minded people that want just as much to discuss these matters and also people that just as much enjoy things like this. See? Like-minded.

Anything else you’d want to know? I suppose I’ll go through what I’ve been up to recently, media-wise. I’m a gamer and though I don’t play on any technically mobile platforms, it’s all connected. Recently I’ve spent a more than decent amount of time playing Shadow of Mordor. If anyone’s into that, I suppose. Just watched Gone Girl and damn, that is quite the movie. I was not prepared at all for the psychological thriller that followed hitting “play.” If you like that, watch “Side Effects,” with Jude Law. Cut of the same cloth.

And for music and that sort of media, I’ve been on a real Sia kick recently so I’ll leave you with this.

Sia [SiaVEVO]. (2010, May 12). Sia – Clap Your Hands [Video file].