How do multimedia phones affect the way media is consumed and circulated? Katy Pearce lays out interesting findings for the case of Armenia in the International Journal of Communication (5, 2011, pp. 511-528).
Amongst others, Pearce’s analysis relies on CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB), illustrating the use of information and communication technology. The data indicates that Armenians are adapting to personal computers and the Internet more slowly than are individuals in neighboring and more economically developed countries. Only 14.7% of Armenian households own a personal computer, 77.4% of respondents report no basic computer skills, and 71% report no Internet skills. Web contents in the Armenian language are still limited.
The delay in some technological access also, paradoxically, fosters creativity: mobile phone usage is rapidly expanding and reached almost 81% in 2008. Especially the spread of multimedia phones since 2006 enables Armenians to substitute services that would be otherwise provided by personal computers. Pearce explores how Armenians share videos, pictures and audio files and in which way prevalent cultural norms foster social sharing. While most of the circulating files serve entertainment purposes, the author illustrates through selected cases how politically relevant contents play a role in population engagement – and are used within this realm by opposition activist groups.
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