Both Castell’s and Juris’ articles provided comprehensive outlines to the increasing significance of cell phones and mobile technology, specifically in political participation. These new forms of media promote an increase in “social engagement” and democracy. While at times politics has seemed a bureaucratic matter, especially in less democratic countries, it is encouraging that civil society can be involved and influential through the media. As is the case in the Philippines, text messaging provides a medium through which civil society can organize to create or resist change, creating a social movement in the political arena. Thus, through media, society can mobilize and use direct action for global justice. This demonstrates the power of mobile technology, a higher level of global interconnectedness, and perhaps a benefit of globalization.
Castell’s account of Berlusconi’s personal text messages, and the infusion of government into the personal sphere, reminds me of the DCAlert texts I receive. Whenever there is a traffic accident, predicted severe weather, or other emergency, DCAlert tells me so. The fact that governments and agencies use texting to reach a broad audience, demonstrate its value in sending quick messages that do not require the same preparation as other media forms. Texting is very effective in this regard because it can reach people on the move, who aren’t seated by a TV or radio.
But, as cell phones become increasingly ubiquitous and mobilizing, we must also consider the consequences that emerge. Castells notes the devastating bombings in Madrid were set off by a cell phone. And, because almost everyone can receive texts, are we also becoming increasingly vulnerable to other forms of terrorism, including phone viruses?