Mobility

20071103_koala_cuddlingDidn’t even realise I hadn’t put anything up in Oct. I’ve done more travelling for the past few months than I ever did in my life so far. Felt as if I was on tour or something. 🙂 The last trip was to Vancouver for the AoIR annual meeting. With a pleasant memory of the AoIR 7.0 in Brisbane last year [Look at my koala-cuddling photo!], I was all very excited, but I found it, well, physically challenging this time. Perhaps quite simply, I am one year older than last year…

It rained non-stop for the whole week I was staying. Unlike last year when it was just upstairs, my hotel was 4km away from the conference venue, for which I walked every morning and evening. Despite the circumstances, I didn’t miss a single session. Everyday from 9.30 to 5. I DEMAND a pat on my back for this. So after the intense week, although I did enjoy meeting many people and learning many things from them (for which separate posts will follow shortly), I felt relieved when I touched down at Heathrow.

A conference as big as the AoIR one always gives me an impression that it’s like speed dating. Not that I have ever been on one, but the analogy lies in the fact that you meet people, sometimes you are approached to and asked for your business cards, sometimes you want theirs but they are not as enthusiastic as you, some you end up getting in contact with, some say they would but you know they wouldn’t, etc. 😉 Before Vancouver, I went to Florence, where I met a PhD student from Lithuania, who was contemplating to write a novel about conference goers. To be honest, I forgot his name, but I would buy the book for the plot alone if it ever came out.

While being on the road, I was thinking a lot about mobility. Then I incidentally found an interesting article in an in-flight magazine on the topic. The writer Timothy Taylor suggests that mobility has to be considered in conjunction with voluntariness – i.e. whether the person is voluntarily or involuntarily mobile. By this measure, he lists 4 archetypes: the Nomad (voluntarily mobile), the Prisoner (involuntarily immobile), the Settler (voluntarily immobile) and the Refugee (involuntarily mobile).

20071103_mobility0

(Originally displayed here.)

He then goes further and introduces another axis into this: cultural variance. In more words, even though you are physically mobile, moving from one culture to another similar one does not constitute the same level of mobility as moving across distinct cultures.

20071103_mobility1

(Originally displayed here.)

Only schematic, but this nicely encapsulates some scattered thoughts of mine about the possible overrepresentation of the concept of “being mobile”. It was a lot clearer than some ontological discussions on mobility. So, which category are you in/around at the moment?

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4 thoughts on “Mobility

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