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  • Guangzhou, China

    China Mobile is a state-owned mobile telecommunication company in China. It is the world’s largest mobile phone operator by subscribers in 2013. While various market reforms were launched to dismantle and privatize many inefficient state-owned enterprises since the 1980s, the socialist state is unwilling to relinquish its monopoly over industry “strategic to national security,” such as oil extraction, electricity supply, banking and finance, and telecommunication. As shown in the photograph, China Mobile is an active event sponsor in Chinese universities. It hopes to establish a positive corporate image among the youth population, an important clientele to support the present and future expansion of the mobile communication market in the country. Photographer: Chun-Yi Sum

  • New Orleans, Louisiana

    The Mardi Gras parade Le Krewe D’etat is known for lampooning politicians, the media, and pop culture. This float from Mardi Gras 2014 depicts the political scandal and resulting media frenzy from New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s inappropriate mobile communications with women who were not his wife. The dalliances of politicians is nothing new, but recorded cell phone communications provide evidence that can destroy careers with a click of a button. The float’s theme reveals how such topics have become part of popular culture. Credits: Designed by Ryan Blackwood and painted by Caroline Thomas at Royal Artists. Photograph by Caroline Thomas.

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    Boston, Massachusetts

    Professor James Katz takes a photograph of a speaker at an academic conference. In the past, presentations and the resulting publications from academic conferences were often limited to scholarly audiences even if the subject matter had mass appeal. Today, many conferences encourage Tweeting, blogging, and other forms of mobile social media communication about the events in order to help ideas reach larger audiences. Photographer: Elizabeth Thomas Crocker

  • Boston, Massachusetts

    One week after the Boston Marathon Bombing, people gathered at a makeshift altar for the injured and killed. Many visitors such as the person to the right used their cell phones to capture the altar digitally and share it with friends, family, and social media networks. Though the altar is now gone, the cell phone images live on as memorials that can be returned to over and over again in the digital sphere. Photographer: Elizabeth Thomas Crocker

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    WWI US Army Service Buzzer

    This 1914 model Service Buzzer was created for the US Army Signal Corps use during WWI. At only 7.5 inches long it was very portable and could be used as either a buzzer or a telephone. These were very early mobile communication devices that allowed service men and women the ability to coordinate war efforts over great distances but they still required connecting it to a line. Today, satellite phones provide a way to stay in contact during military operations without the need for wires. Photographer: Elizabeth Thomas Crocker.

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    Petionville, Haiti

    Pap padap! Street vendors in Haiti shout this to encourage the purchase of minutes and cell phones. 85% of Haitians now have access to a cell phone and this has drastically changed how people communicate, stay informed, and organize. For example, farmers can call family in the big cities to check prices before selling to middlemen to make sure they are getting a fair deal. Users can also send and save money with their phones which is significant for a population that often cannot qualify for a bank account. Photographer: Elizabeth Thomas Crocker

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    Western Wall, Jerusalem

    This man is making a phone call while seated before the Western Wall, a site of religious pilgrimage for members of the Jewish faith. While it may seem at first glance a disrespectful act, cell phones allow pilgrims a way to link family who could not physically visit to the sacred sites. Sharing the pilgrimage through mobile communications allows people to virtually bring those not present into spaces rather than just removing souvenirs from the spaces to bring home. This kind of religious connection can be deeply meaningful and mobile communications are changing how we think about the sacred, space, pilgrimage, and what it means to be present in a moment or place. Photographer: James Katz