Communication on mobile devices plays an important role in people’s use of technology for leisure, but to date this communication has largely been one-to-one. Mobile internet connectivity can support a variety of group-based messaging and media sharing scenarios. Switching to group-based messaging should enhance the social and leisure aspects of the communication, but in what ways and to what extent? An experimental system for text and photo messaging on mobile devices was tested in a research deployment to four groups of 6-8 participants who used both a group-based and one-to-one version of the system. Results highlight a significant increase in message sending, in mobile device “fun”, and in the social qualities of mobile communication when messaging group-wide, along with a few minor costs. Qualitative feedback provides further explanation of the social benefits.
Mobile, leisure, social, social computing, groups, messaging, photos
Mobile device-based communication is evolving rapidly, expanding from voice and text, to include photo sharing and, as internet connectivity on mobile devices proliferates, other communication media such as instant messaging. How can we take advantage of these new social communication and sharing capabilities in support of computer-mediated leisure activities? One potential growth area is group-based mobile messaging and photo sharing. Group-based interactions have long been used in web and desktop environments to facilitate organization and planning, media sharing, topical discussion, and computer-mediated socializing to name a few uses. For the most part, these social benefits have not been translated to mobile devices, possibly because such devices historically were designed for voice communication, which does not scale well beyond the dyad (for a notable exception, see Aoki et al. 2003). Mobile devices are, however, in many ways well suited to group-based communication, especially within a leisure context. For instance, mobile devices often are the primary communication tool for coordinating the face-to-face activities that constitute a substantial portion of our social lives. These tend to involve last-minute coordination with a loosely organized group of friends or family, and the dynamic nature of these social events makes the continual connection mobile devices offer a practical convenience if not a near necessity. Indeed, if we look at teen use of mobile devices as harbingers of the future of mobile communications, we see a highly dynamic, continually updating social organization process (Ito 2005).
This type of messaging to coordinate meeting face to face highlights the role of mobile messaging in support of leisure. Mobile messaging is also used directly for leisure purposes, such as messaging to pass the time while on a train, and thus