Mediated Competition, Comparison, and Connections: How Mobile Interactive Fitness Technologies Alter the Cycling Experience
With 45% of America’s adult population using smartphones, it is essential to study how these technologies mediate and affect our experiences, including those connected to human health (Pew Internet Project, 2012). Recent data claim that 60% of adults in the U.S track their weight, diet, or exercise routine, with 1 in 5 adults using a form of technology to aid in tracking (Pew Internet Project, 2013). The interactive fitness technology (IFT) Strava affords a user the ability to track via GPS his or her bicycle ride or run, then upload the data to a website for comparison, competition, and interaction with their self and others. Using a qualitative grounded theory approach, this study examined practices and discourses surrounding the IFT, including the Strava system’s texts and technological affordances (Gaver, 1991). After multiple iterations of analysis three themes emerged; competition, comparison, and community. I postulate that these three themes are interacting with one another and leading to a changed experience for the cyclist. The ‘changed experience’ is characterized by cyclists’ perceived need for recording, comparing, classifying, interacting and sharing data with their connections, and an overall transition away from ‘riding for the sake of riding.’
Smith, William R., "Mediated Competition, Comparison, and Connections: How Mobile Interactive Fitness Technologies Alter the Cycling Experience " (2013). Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS). 8.