Everyday Dwelling with WhatsApp

  • ,
  • Michael Massimi ,
  • Richard Harper ,
  • Simon Rubens ,
  • Jessica Morris

CSCW 2014 |

Published by ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work

In this paper, we present a study of WhatsApp, an instant messaging smartphone application. Through our interviews with participants, we develop anthopologist Tim Ingold’s notion of dwelling, and discuss how use of WhatsApp is constitutive of a felt-life of being together with those close by. We focus on the relationship “doings” in WhatsApp and how this togetherness and intimacy are enacted through small, continuous traces of narrative, of tellings and tidbits, noticings and thoughts, shared images and lingering pauses; this is constitutive of dwelling. Further, we discuss how an intimate knowing of others in these relationships, through past encounters and knowledge of coming together in the future, pertain to the particular forms of relationship engagements manifest through the possibilities presented in WhatsApp. We suggest that this form of sociality is likely to be manifest in other smartphone IM-like applications.