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Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life (MIT Press) Paperback – September 8, 2006

3.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Geert Lovink taught me how to think critically about technology, and I always turn to him for thoughtful and humane analysis. Too few technology writers have any sense of social and cultural context, and too few technology critics have an appreciation of why people find technologies attractive and how they improve people's lives. I recommend Dark Fiber to those who haven't yet learned to think critically about Internet technology and the culture that has grown up around it, and to those critics who fail to see the real advantages afforded by the Internet."--Howard Rheingold, author of *The Virtual Community* and *Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution*



This is an important book. Through a range of well designed and intelligently contextualized case studies, it both locates and dislocates common assumptions about the singularities of technology and of culture in determining how the 'keitai' is finding its place in Japanese society. Reaching beyond Japan and beyond the mobile phone, the book provides a theortetically rich and empirically sophisticated template for all future work which seeks to understand the nature of sociotechnical change in personal communications.

(Roger Silverstone, Professor of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science)

Lead users play a key role in determining the fate of both technological and industrial development in the digital era. The only way we can fully understand the astonishing development of 'keitai' services is through a multi-perspective analysis of Japan's youth, the cutting-edge lead users of mobile technology. This book is critical to thinking about technological advancement in the 21st century.

(Ichiya Nakamura, Executive Director, Stanford Japan Center)

About the Author

Misa Matsuda is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Chuo University, Tokyo.



Daisuke Okabe is Lecturer at the Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Shonan Fujisawa Campus, Japan.



Mizuko Ito is Research Scientist at the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (September 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262590255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262590259
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,566,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you work in the mobile communications space and you aren't Japanese, you probably ought to have a copy of this book. It provides a wealth of data and references on Japanese mobile phone use that have been hidden behind the language barrier for too long. (NB: This is sociology and anthropology data we're talking about, not marketing data. It's data about how people do things and think about things, not how many widgets they bought last year.) Mimi Ito has done the community (particularly the research community) a huge service by getting this collection published.
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One method in interaction design is to get a clear picture of who is using your product. This book shows who that person is (or was) for SMS. As a mobile app developer, this book helped put a personal face on my market.

I first heard about this book from Trip Hawkins, during a mobile track of the Game Developer Conference. This was before the iPhone came out. While the iPhone may have changed how mobile apps are built and sold, this book remains a classic.

What I learned from PPP was how a teenage Japanese girl began to use her pager and ketai. I learned how she, and others like her, became the social nexus of a new phenomenon. Now, with carriers transitioning from SMS to data plans, this book helps me to ask the question: "who's the leading way" - in a way that might yield a useful answer.
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Format: Hardcover
In Japan and Europe, cellphone usage is higher than in the United States. Thus to an American reader, this book can be interesting on several levels. Perhaps as a sociological commentary on how Japanese society has accepted and accomodated the pervasive use of the phones. To an extent not currently seen in much of the US, except possibly amongst teenagers in large cities. The book is a fascinating read of how quickly an technological item has become part of the fabric in Japan. The passages on phone etiquette also suggest what might also eventuate here.

On a business level, the book can be used for ideas into future usages, in Japan or elsewhere. If you are trying to find a novel business involving cellphones, it helps to study a society that has taken them further.
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Format: Paperback
Personal, Portable, Pedestrian is a research book by Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, and Misa Matsuda. Two main points of the book I found interesting were the tracing of history of keitai (cell phones) and the discussion of public and private space and how keitai should be used in public. The book was well written and accomplished what it sets forth to do, which is laid out clearly in the introduction. The two downsides of the book are that it is often repetitive, which may be an outcome of having multiple authors, and that it is outdated, it was published in 2005. Therefore, some of the facts you read in the book are no longer accurate. As an American teen reading the book, it is interesting to compare the culture of Japan, especially in regards to cell phone use, to our own. There are many times in the book where you will find yourself comparing your life to that of Japanese citizens. At some times, their use of cell phones will you remind you of your own. At others, you will find yourself surprised by the differences. In all, if you are looking to learn more about Japanese culture and keitai use, this book is definitely for you!
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As a college student searching for a better understanding of mobile phone use in Japan, Personal, Portable, Pedestrian was a beneficial tool. However, the excessive amount of data was entirely unnecessary for students like me and unfortunately, the amount of repetition bored and distracted me to a point where getting through the book felt like an arduous chore. I would recommend PPP for anyone searching for a deep analysis of keitai use in Japan, so long as the repetition and forgone promises mean little to the prospective reader.
In the introduction to Personal, Portable, Pedestrian by Mizuko Ito, the audience is told to expect an explanation of keitai use, not just specifically to Japan but to a global stage as well. It states: “This introduction serves to locate the keitai as a particular sociocultural object in relation to the international state of mobile communications adoption and sociocultural research” (Ito 1). With this in mind, I read PPP through two lenses, one of a Japanese perspective and one of an international perspective. This global perspective was virtually absent however, a flaw I found to be overwhelming. The book allowed me to relate it as best I could to my own experiences and life but offered little expertise to assist me in doing so.
The amount of repetition within Personal, Portable, Pedestrian was unnecessary and consequentially distracting. For example, chapter one served as a helpful preview of many things later explained in the book, however, an introduction for that purpose precisely had already preceded it. Its section “from a business tool to a youth medium” is explained copiously in chapter three and four, its topic of family and gender is deeply illuminated in chapter eleven, and its explanation of the effect on interpersonal relationships is clarified in all of section three and much of section four.
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Undoubtedly, the emergence of Keitai in Japan was one of the most defining points of a society transitioning into the 21st century and its technological age. The implications of Keitai surround us every day. Mobile communication is now a social standard. In a world in which most communication takes place over these cell phones, a person without one can find themselves “out of the loop”. This can have severe professional and social consequences. "Personal, Portable, Pedestrian" had an opportunity to discuss the global impact that Keitai has but instead, this compilation of essays only informs us about how Keitai operates and its localized impact on small Japanese social paradigms. Without a doubt, the topic is interesting but not extensive enough for a full length book. They could fit the information presented into a brief scholarly article. This, combined with the fact that different authors contribute to each section leads to unneeded repetition, overall leaving the book boring.
With that said, "Personal Portable Pedestrian" is informative and a great source for discovering more about Keitai. The authors that are responsible for each section are qualified and educated about the topic. It is filled with visual aids that support the specific arguments that each author is making. It is safe to say that the authors weren't attempting to write a book that would be a captivating read. In the end, I recommend "Personal Portable Pedestrian" for those looking for information on the topic. It would be helpful for those doing research projects on modern Japanese society or even projects on technology’s increasing impact in the 21st century. However, I would hate to see anyone purchase the book for pleasure reading. You’ll find yourself struggling to keep your eyes on the text. It is simply too repetitive, too dry to enjoy reading.
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