Time Alone With Portable Computing

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"Time Alone With Portable Computing"

GayAsXmas just posted a nice perspective on technology and public reading. His prompt was some graphs that were published in The Atlantic, as well as a summary by Derek Thompson:

The big winner, as I see it, is phones, which have exploded as a source of reading in the last few years…As the smart phone war between iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm, Android, etc heats up, the competition will only drive up their capacity and utility and encourage more people to think of their phones as small computers that can make calls, rather than phones pretending as small computers.

My take on this takes me in a different direction. As GayAsXmas pointed out, personal computing devices make reading or watching or listening in public less about the content that you’re consuming and more about the device with which you feed yourself. This will certainly can certainly shape social interactions, but I’m more concerned with how these tools impact our private lives.

For me, the perceived challenge with smart phones and portable computing devices is that they make it easier for humans to adapt to the always on 24 /7 Web, and anyone who has lived a week in a human body can tell you that we’re not a 24 / 7 species.

The resulting habits, may keep us better connected and better informed, but they also change how we fill in the time in between truly novel events. The t-shirt, below, is a case in point:

Through work and more recently on my own I’ve had access to smart phones for couple years. I have noticed a change in behavior, especially while waiting. For example, three years ago I taught myself how to yo-yo while waiting for DC’s busses. Now, I’m constantly checking in the status of the next bus on NextBus, while listening to music and probably chatting. I can’t say whether this development is good or bad or a phase, but I do wonder how these habits that I’m forming now will impact my psyche in the long run.

How about you? Has your awesome phone substanitively changed the way that you fill the moments of your day?

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