Wireless Visions: Infrastructure, Imagination, and US Spectrum Policy

Wong, R. Y., & Jackson, S. J. (2015, February). Wireless visions: Infrastructure, imagination, and US spectrum policy. In Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 105-115). ACM.


Effective use of spectrum is essential to the forms of mobile, ubiquitous, and social computing that increasingly shape and define CSCW research. This paper calls attention to the key policy processes by which the future of wireless spectrum – and the forms of technology design and use that depend on it – is being imagined, shaped, and contested. We review CSCW and HCI scholarship arguing for infrastructure and policy as important but neglected sites of CSCW analysis, and separate lines of work arguing for ‘sociotechnical imaginaries’ as key sites and outcomes of technology policy and design. We then turn to histories of U.S. spectrum regulation, before analyzing ongoing FCC policy actions around incentive auctions and unlicensed spectrum use. We argue that such processes are central to the imagination and future of mobile computing; and that CSCW can benefit from adding such policy concerns to its traditional repertoires of design and use.


Last updated:

February 18, 2017