Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Communication, Technology, and Society

Advisor

Kendall, Brenden E

Committee Member

Scott , David T

Committee Member

Weathers , Melinda

Abstract

Technology is now embedded in many aspects of daily life. Over the past few years, fitness related smartphone applications have steadily grown in popularity. Despite the prevalence of technology in recreation and leisure experiences, the topic remains to be thoroughly examined from a qualitative interpretive viewpoint. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand and describe how cyclists use and experience Strava--a GPS enabled smartphone application that tracks bicycle rides and uploads the data to an online community of other users. Particular attention was given to user motivations, affordances of the technology, and notions of community. After participant observation and in-depth qualitative interviews with 11 Strava users, the following five theme clusters emerged: (1) King of the Mountain, (2) Ethical Dilemmas, (3) A Social Technology, (4) An Emotion-Laden Experience, and (5) An Augmented Experience. In summary, this thesis offers an accurate portrayal of the lived experience of bicycling as mediated by the interactive fitness technology of Strava. The project concludes with suggestions for areas of future research, as well as implications for health practitioners and technology manufacturers.

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