Never disconnected

I’ve been playing around with my Blackberry this week and exploring its ever increasing potential for making life simpler. Simpler? Well, at least in terms of offloading physical assets (which frees up my space) and automating routine tasks (which frees up my time).

Social Mapping

In particular I’ve discovered, somewhat belatedly, that the Google Maps app I downloaded some weeks ago can be integrated with my personal Google account giving me mobile access to my customised maps as well as geographically relevant Google Buzz. There’s also potential for linking with others in my tribe so we can follow each other around Syndey, should I get over the creepiness factor.

Globally Positioned Lifestyles

I also downloaded one of those QR Code scanners, so I can interact with them when I come across them in real life, and downloaded a GPS based car finder to compensate for my notorious lack of direction, particularly in shopping mall car parks.

From my mobile feeds I’ve also been reading of new apps for mobile-based, home-orientated access control systems (so you can ditch your keys) and alternatives to PayPal that allow easier mobile payments in real life (so you can ditch your wallets). Soon it would seem we can run around naked, with nothing but a mobile, and access everything. And once they become small enough to wear around your neck, or skip that and go for subdermal implant, we’ll be able to access everything without carrying anything.

So I find myself reflecting more and more on the New Scientist prediction that augmented cities will be upon us within a decade. Mobile computing, as it becomes more and more integrated into everyday activity, promises us a future when we’ll be never offline unless we’re on an electronic fast.

Fast Culture meets Slow Culture

In the same timeframe, however, I’ve also been coming across people whom, much to my shock, get confused by lifts in multistorey buildings and find automatic doors a novelty. While space is decreasing in relevance culturally, time is increasing in relevance culturally. I think its increasingly relevant to speak of fast culture and slow culture in the same way we talk about local culture and foreign culture. For if my experience is any guide, slow adopters and fast adopters increasingly exerience culture shock when they cross paths. We live in different worlds, even though they’re side by side. Parallel universes running at different speeds.

7 Comments

  1. Depends on what you’re looking for. What’s entertainment for one person is a time waster for another. What’s productivity enhancing for one person is uninteresting for another. Think of it this way: what are you looking for? For me the Blackberry is a work horse so I ignore the games and diversions and go straight for the productivity stuff. One of my favourites is the RSS feed reader, as it allows me to catch up on the news headlines quickly, without buying a paper or logging on to a PC.

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  2. I might ad, I am now at the point where I rarely watch live TV, rarely listen to radio, rarely read a newspaper and yet am still better informed about what’s going on in the world than most people who do all of these. What’s more I’m doing it quicker so I’m finding more time to read books. That’s the power of these mobile technologies.

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  3. Yeah, but you read via Kindle, don’t you, Matt?
    I may be a “slow adopter” but I have a brain I can access without carrying anything… except maybe a portable sense of humour 😉 AND I can sit comfortably with Aborigines. That’s gotta count for something!

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  4. Lucy, in talking fast adopter verses slow adopter I would not be putting myself or anyone I know at the bleeding edge. Mere users simply don’t have access to new tech that early. I do have an edge in the ease with which I exploit new tech once I have my hands on it, but I don’t often get my hands till second generation. In terms of the Kindle I’d actually place myself in the early majority of the technology adoption lifecycle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_adoption_lifecycle.
    Generally speaking I wouldn’t put you far behind that either. I mean, hell, we met online years ago so you’re hardly a Luddite. When I’m talking culture / worldview gap between the bleeding edge and the trailing edge I’m looking far broader than the gap between us. Consider that there are some people who have never used email because its too scary … and others who have never used email because its too passe. What does that suggest about the different spaces they’re in?
    I find this particularly noticable at large family gatherings, when different sides of the family can’t understand what other sides are talking about. It’s not only the technological il/literacy that sets us apart, it’s the experiences we’re exposed to as a consequence of that. People and places who me and my brothers in law are thoroughly familiar with are complete unknowns to other family members, and visa versa, due to our differences in access to technologically mediated culture. Our customs, our language, our concerns, there are vast differences. And its not just age that separates us, its also the adoption speed of different people of the same age.

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  5. What about selective adopters?
    There are some people who adopt every new gadget going, and will abandon useful technology for dysfunctional technology just because it’s newer.
    There are others who won’t even use e-mail, because they “don’t understand computers”.
    Nowadays I can’t even switch on the TV, and have to ask my son to do it for me. But I can use a computer.

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  6. I like that “selective adopter” category, Steve. Maybe it’s got something to do with “thresholds”? I can remember resisting the use of ATMs when they first came (especially the ones that “talked back” – remember them, anyone?) but eventually capitulated, possibly encourage by the closure of many local bank branches. Internet banking wasn’t a problem – got into that quick smart. I learned touch-typing before the proliferation of the PC, so the transition to type-dependent e-communication was also e-e-easy.
    However, my inclinations simply stubbed on the iPod line! I really thought it would be great! A dancer with music almost wired into my brain… Surprisingly, despite its beautiful little form, my classy slim white mini iMnotinterested lies mournfully encoffined with a matching set of iPod speakers in a box somewhere – a drawer in my bedroom, I believe. I really thought they would make such a nifty compact and contemporary cool pair to aid dance teaching. However, I’m left cold at the thought. The threshold remains uncrossed. The necessity of a computer and sometimes having to pay for downloads added into the music/dance equation was more than I could bear. CDs RULE!
    To make matters worse, I was given a “nano” for Christmas which hasn’t even hatched from the packaging!!! Don’t ROFL… I’ve got a webcam and I can see you! Hey, but I got a husband and our last investment property (now sold via email procedures) off the internet, so thanks for your e-encouragement, Matt. I had forgotten that I’m not a Luddite after all – just a very “selective adopter” complete with arbitrary thresholds

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