The use of private mobile phones at war: Accounts from the Donbas conflict

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

Studying technology use in unstable and life-threatening conditions can help highlight assumptions of use built into technologies and foreground contradictions in the design of devices and services. This paper provides an account of how soldiers, volunteers, and civilians use mobile technologies in wartime, reporting on fieldwork conducted in Western Russia and Eastern Ukraine with people close to or participating directly in the armed conflict in the Donbas region. We document how private mobile phones and computers became a crucial but ambiguous infrastructure despite their lack of durability in extreme conditions of a military conflict, and their government and military surveillance potential. Our participants rely on a combination of myths and significant technical knowledge to negotiate the possibilities mobile technologies offer and the lifethreatening reality of enemy surveillance they engender. We consider the problems of always-on always-connected devices under conditions of war and surveillance and our responsibilities as HCI practitioners in the design of social technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2018 - Extended Abstracts of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems : Engage with CHI
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Publication date20 Apr 2018
ISBN (Electronic)9781450356206, 9781450356213
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2018 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 21 Apr 201826 Apr 2018


Conference2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2018
SeriesConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Copyright is held by the owner/author(s).

    Research areas

  • Appropriation, Field study, ICT infrastructures, Mobile media, Political conflict, War

ID: 303706194