Beyond ‘mobility’: A new understanding of moving with technology

Ella Hafermalz*, Robert B. Johnston, Dirk S. Hovorka, Kai Riemer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We report a surprising experience with mobile technology: the lead author found herself seeing and acting differently while running over part of her usual running track with the exercise-tracking application ‘Strava’ on her phone, even without focal attention to the app. We apply the method of problematization to a detailed empirical account of this experience, in conjunction with a literature analysis of taken-for-granted assumptions underpinning research on ‘mobile technology use’. This reveals that, while the relationship of attention, perception, movement and technology was a key element of the surprise, these themes are not well accounted for in current IS literature. In response, we employ William Gibson's ecological theory of visual perception to reinterpret the empirical account and thereby build a new understanding of the human plus mobile technology that we term moving-with-technology. We introduce to IS: moving-with-technology as a new analytical perspective; the new phenomena of digital sub-species, digital-niches and asynchronous co-location; and stimulus for new ecologically oriented ‘mobile methods’. Moving-with-technology also has practical implications for urban planners who are using data from digital trace-making tools such as Strava in their decision-making, thereby generating what we call ecological feedback loops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-786
Number of pages25
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Issue number4
Early online date18 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • digital trace-making
  • ecological feedback
  • exercise-tracking
  • Gibson
  • mobile technology
  • problematization

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