Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Message threads: Exploring interpersonal communication through smartphones: how we weave our lives in a hypermediated world

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posted on 2021-11-14, 12:06 authored by Verkerk, Jayn

This thesis is about human behaviour as it relates to computer mediated communication. Smartphones are an accepted part of everyday life. We use them to wake us up in the morning, we play games on them while we wait for the bus, and take photos with them. Smartphones also enable communication. We can phone while in transit, coordinate meeting up with friends, share our lives on social networking sites, and check in on email and text throughout the day.  How does this technology affect how we interact? In public situations we retain contact online, but this multitasking affects how we relate to others socially. Smartphone texting allows us to keep in constant touch with friends and family, though interaction is fragmented and asynchronous. As we are always available, and never alone, these open lines of communication also affect how we see ourselves.  In choosing the smartphone I critically question the attention and priority given to these devices in daily life. Mobile phones have changed the soundscape in public places: dialtones, beeps and people speaking in public on their phones is common. Users interact continually with their phones, store substantial data on them, communicate through, and consequently develop a bond to, the physical object. What could these ubiquitous portable computers tell us if, instead of being passive agents in a dependent relationship of user and phone, they actively listened, or could reflect back the nature of their role in our lives?


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Media Design

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design


Easterly, Douglas