QOTD: mobile

I am writing a short piece on mobile communications at the moment and have been interested to see that the whole world is writing about the impact of mobile.

The Economist has a very nice special section with articles on a range of topics (see the display panel on the right of this opening section for a list of articles). There is almost no focus on the technology per se, rather it looks at how our working and social lives, our buildings and our jobs, and our attitudes and expectations are being reconfigured. The emphasis is not on 'mobility' but on permanent connectivity in an environment where computational and communication capacity is increasingly pervasive. What is our world like when the network is not something that is 'out there' but when potentially all that we do is network aware.

There are several sections; here is a note from the piece on space:

The fact that people are no longer tied to specific places for functions such as studying or learning, says Mr Mitchell, means that there is “a huge drop in demand for traditional, private, enclosed spaces” such as offices or classrooms, and simultaneously “a huge rise in demand for semi-public spaces that can be informally appropriated to ad-hoc workspaces”. This shift, he thinks, amounts to the biggest change in architecture in this century. In the 20th century architecture was about specialised structures—offices for working, cafeterias for eating, and so forth. This was necessary because workers needed to be near things such as landline phones, fax machines and filing cabinets, and because the economics of building materials favoured repetitive and simple structures, such as grid patterns for cubicles. [The new oases | Economist.com]

I particularly liked this section; it filled out the context for my suggestion a while ago that Starbucks has become 'on-demand space'.

And I was interested to see this little snippet the other day:

Who is the largest camera maker in the world? Nokia. Who is the largest manufacturer of music devices in the world? Nokia. Who is buying the company that provides the map data behind Mapquest? Nokia. [Our Cells, Ourselves - washingtonpost.com]

Related entries:


Comments: 3

Apr 28, 2008
Peter Murray

Lorcan -- your posting about the reduction of private spaces is oddly juxtaposed with an article in today's Columbus Dispatch with the title "To catch up, users take BlackBerrys to restrooms" (http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/life/stories/2008/04/28/1A_BATHROOM_BLACKBERRY.ART_ART_04-28-08_D1_14A0VL2.html?sid=101). An excerpt:

"There is a stigma associated with excessive BlackBerry use," [Kevin Michaluk, founder of CrackBerry.com] said. "But the bathroom is total CrackBerry bliss. Nobody else's eyes are on you; it's completely private; you can do whatever you want."
Apr 28, 2008
Lorcan Dempsey

Peter - yes. You come across lots of Crackberry references! The balance between liberation and intrusion, the expectation that you need to be always available, the urge to check in case you have missed something, m-etiquette, the erasure of physical space by connectivity, and so on, lead to various Blackberry stories. Just off to check ...

May 01, 2008
Simon Day

Lorcan, I found the Mobile Life reports from Carphone Warehouse valuable for insights in this area http://www.mobilelife2007.co.uk/