Who put the smart into smartphones?


The word smart as used in terms such as smart cities and smartphones usually refers to the inventiveness of engineers and developers. In this paper, by contrast, we will examine what people older actually do with smartphones, based on evidence from nine field sites around the world, each of which was studied over a 16 month period. Much of this usage differs from what was envisaged because it derives from the subsequent crafting of these phones by their users. By teaching smartphone use to older people we could start by seeing what was not smart in the smartphone. This led to a wider examination of the field of mHealth. This is usually seen as the creation of bespoke health apps. But our research shows how and why in practice this is not the main way people employ smart phones in relation to health. To understand this, we also need to shift from a focus on the single individual with their smartphone and see the impact of a much wider social and cultural context which explains the particular ways the smartphones have been reconfigured by older people. We will also show why smartphones in practice are not simply the collection of apps that we might have imagined. In conclusion we developed an alternative perspective which we call smart-from-below.


Nombre completo: Daniel Miller
AfiliaciĆ³n: University College London.


Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology at University College London. He is a Fellow of the British Academy. He has written and edited forty-one books. Recent volumes include Tales from Facebook (2011) Migration and New Media (With Mirca Madianou 2012) Consumption and its Consequences 2012, Digital Anthropology (Ed. with Heather Horst 2012), Webcam (with Jolynna Sinanan 2014), Social Media in an English Village (2016), How the World Changed Social Media (with 8 others, UCL 2016), The Comfort Of People (2017), The Global Smartphone (with 8 others, UCL forthcoming). Ageing with Smartphones in Ireland (with Pauline Garvey, UCL forthcoming). He was the director of the Why We Post Project (2012-2017), and is currently the director of the ASSA project Smartphones and Smart Ageing (2017-2022).

He tweets at @DannyAnth