While penetration rates and other measures of the rapid growth of mobile technologies capture our imaginations, what is not so readily understood is why this ‘charismatic technology’ (Fortunati, 2007) has been so adopted – and adapted – in local contexts. In particular, relatively little systematic attention has been given to the forms of user-created content. Video and photo-sharing sites, social networking sites and blogs have become the space for projection of a range of new user-created content, challenging assumptions about the image’s power to universally communicate and presenting a dissolution of the division of aesthetic labour between artists and non-artists (the skilled and unskilled). This results in what I call a widespread general aesthesia in which an affective state of response, a heightening of awareness, extends users’ creative capacities and presents a counter to the widespread assumption of anesthetization in the face of information overload. This research is based on the study of camera phone practices in Hong Kong in which micro-level adaptations/transformations of technology by users suggest a much more diffused form of innovation than is generally understood within innovation and industry policy frameworks.
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