I’m reading a passage from McCarthy and Wright’s Technology as Experience and this quote stuck out to me:

“…the tools for text messaging would win no prizes for usability, yet text messaging is experienced by many adults and teenagers as instrumentally and expressively useful (Katz and Aakhus 2002).”

This book is from 2004 and text messaging has improved vastly with the event of smartphones, but the sentiment behind the statement nonetheless reminded me of a show I’ve seen recently.

This weekend, I started watching House of Cards on Netflix (really great show, by the way). One thing that I’ve found particularly interesting is the show’s treatment of text messaging as part of everyday life. There are actually little pop-up windows on the screen itself showing someone’s text message. Here’s a screenshot:


In this screenshot, the man receiving the text is actually also on a conference call for work. So there are two threads going on at once, both the text conversation and the audible business conversation.

This method of showing text-based conversations on-screen might have been used elsewhere before, but this is the first time I’ve seen it, so I thought it was particularly interesting. I think House of Cards was just released a week or so ago, so to me it’s really showing the sociocultural context of text messaging–particularly the idea of texting while trying to do something else (via CSCW in fact) and multitasking as a part of our everyday lives.

I’m really interested to see if this becomes a convention in film for showing text message conversations.