Current projects

I’m currently involved in the following research projects:

Public access, private phone: the interplay of shared access and mobile internet

Jonathan Donner and Marion Walton

Mobile phone use is soaring, especially in developing and transitioning countries. What does the dramatic increase in mobile use — and particularly mobile internet use — mean for public access venues? Will mobile internet compete with, complement, or coexist with public access venues? The in-depth study, Public Access, Private Phone, will explore the interplay between mobile internet and public access venues.

On- and offline media networks for mobile-centric youth in South Africa

Marion Walton and Gary Marsden

Funded by Nokia Research

This project aims to characterise emerging genres of mobile media use for low income teens in South Africa, with a particular focus on documenting how new generations of mobile phones are used to support interaction around lengthier texts and visual media (both online and offline). Mobile internet use allows conversations around media to extend from the intimate interpersonal communication traditionally associated with mobile phones (e.g. Ito and Okabe, 2005) to possibilities for more extensive public engagement (Walton and Donner, 2009). Understanding the conditions and conventions of such conversations in developing countries will allow for the design of new interfaces and technologies to better support creativity and foster cultural diversity.

Mobile Literacies – Digital Communication and Information Access in a Multilingual Society, Challenges and Opportunities

with Ana Deumert and colleagues

To what extent are digital communication technologies re-shaping everyday literacy practices and social identities in South Africa? What versions and varieties of South Africa’s languages are being ‘literalized’ in these contexts, and for what purposes? Can ICTs provide ‘roads to literacy’ by creating meaningful high-density informal learning environments for the acquisition/use of literacy? How do these ‘grassroots’ literacies relate to, and interact with, dominant/normative forms of literacy?