Context-Aware Technology Public Discourses and (Un)-informed Use: The Case of Users in a Developing Country




public discourses on context-aware technologies, informed use of smartphones, context-aware technologies, critical discourse analysis, smart phone users in developing countries, privacy violation


There is a move towards a future in which consumers of technology are untethered from the devices and technology use becomes subliminal. With this increasing device opacity, loss of user control and increasing device autonomy, there are calls for more research on users' privacy and freedom of choice. There are, however, key figures in the creation of modern technologies who suggest that consumers are informed of the implications of the use of these technologies or, that consumers use the technologies willingly. This paper examines, using Critical Discourse Analysis, two genres of IT-related communication viz. a speech made by the CEO of Facebook, the largest social-networking site and, the privacy policy document of Truecaller, said to be the most-downloaded app in Africa. Furthermore, 25 Sub-Saharan African users were interviewed on their use and understanding of smartphones. The analysis reveals concerns of consumers regarding the absence of choice, a lack of knowledge and information privacy erosion are not unfounded. The results show also that with the speech and policy document alike, there was information that was distorted or omitted. The conclusion was that the discourses surrounding context-awareness, through confusion, misrepresentations, false assurances and illegitimacy, contribute to information imbalances and asymmetry but most importantly, an uninformed consumer.

Author Biography

Machdel Matthee, University of Pretoria






Research Papers (general)