This chapter explores the changing relationship of mobility to media technology, considering the ways in which we think about, engage in, and exploit the mobility of people and devices, goods and services, in a world in which mobility serves as an increasingly important type of information and information goes increasingly mobile. The chapter rethinks the ways in which information mobility and physical mobility interact with one another in the transition from industrial era shifts to digital era developments. If mobility has, at times, claimed for itself the attributes of a certain kind of freedom, this chapter considers the way in which this freedom can be put to work. The conquest of space, in the digital era, refers to the creation of a ubiquitous electromagnetic atmosphere – not merely extension across space, but also a “filling-in” of space, so that wherever one goes, the network can be accessed, information can be retrieved, and feedback generated. Information is generated not simply about the movement of objects, but about the movement of messages, and, recursively, the tracking of the movement of messages. Mobility, in this sense, participates in a productive spiral.
Writing in the waning years of the Space Race, James Carey (1992) located the rise of the electronic computer in a sequential chain of relationships between media and transportation: “As printing went with seagoing navigation and the telegraph with the railway, ...