Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The burner project: Privacy and social control in a networked world
by Shade, Molly, M.S., University of North Texas, 2015, 149; 10034742
Abstract (Summary)

As mobile phones become increasingly ubiquitous in today’s world, academic and public audiences alike are curious about the interaction between mobile technologies and social norms. To investigate this phenomenon, I examined how individuals use technology to actively manage their communication behaviors. Through a three-month research project on usage patterns of Burner, a mobile application, this thesis explores the relationships among technology, culture, and privacy.

Burner is a service that equips individuals with the means to create, maintain, and/or dissolve social ties by providing temporary, disposable numbers to customers. The application offers a way to communicate without relying on a user’s personal phone number. In other words, Burner acts as a “privacy layer” for mobile phones. It also provides a valuable platform to examine how customers use the application as a strategy for communication management.

This thesis represents a marriage of practice and theory: (1) As an applied enterprise, the project was constructed as a customer needs assessment intending to examine how the service was situated in the lives of its users. The findings have successfully been applied to my client’s company strategy and have led to a more informed customer approach. (2) As an academic endeavor, this research contributes to existing scholarship in anthropology, computer-mediated communication, privacy, and design. The results provide rich fodder for discussions about the impact of mobile communication and services.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Squires, Susan
Commitee:
School: University of North Texas
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Texas
Source: MAI 55/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Marketing, Technical Communication
Keywords: Computer mediated communication, Design anthropology, Privacy, Technical communication
Publication Number: 10034742
ISBN: 9781339538372
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