Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 25, Issue 3, 2021

Esther Keymolen
Pages 354-378

In Search of Friction
A New Postphenomenological Lens to Analyze Human-Smartphone Interactions

Considering the key mediating role that smartphones play in everyday life, a postphenomenological analysis to better understand how we have power over these devices, how these artifacts empower and simultaneously can overpower us, seems highly relevant. This article will show that in order to engage in such a much-needed postphenomenological analysis, we will first have to address three fundamental, methodological challenges. The first challenge is brought forth by the personalized interface of smartphones, hindering postphenomenologists to unravel the so-called multistability of the device through variational analysis, which typically is an anchoring point in their analysis. The second challenge is that the networked ontology of smartphones disrupts the ideal-typical hermeneutic relationship end-users have with their smartphone. The third, closely related challenge, comes with the general focus of postphenomenology on the everyday life, first-person experience of users, which leaves many, significant stabilities hidden behind the smartphone’s interface.