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Not what we meant by “mobile”

Not what we meant by “mobile” published on No Comments on Not what we meant by “mobile”Purchase print

Originally posted on ReadWriteWeb

I’m on holiday this week, which means either I set up this post in advance, or I’m taking time out from Anaconda Wrestling Fantasy Camp to get it out to you.

Either way, you should feel terribly flattered.

MacBook (Not) Air

MacBook (Not) Air published on 2 Comments on MacBook (Not) Air

Originally published on ReadWriteWeb

Fly any airline and you’ll see two parallel rituals being conducted just before takeoff: flight attendants politely reminding passengers to switch off everything remotely entertaining for their own safety, and a subset of the passengers covertly eking out every last second of keyboarding they can before they get caught.

For some of those passengers, the lack of compliance stems from an innate need to defy any authority; for others, a neurotic fear of even a nanosecond of unavoidable disconnection. And for still others, it comes from deep-seated skepticism that 21st-century airline avionics are really all that vulnerable to a few stray processor cycles and rogue oscillations.

I could easily see myself with a foot in each of those camps. (I’d need to graft on a whole new foot to achieve that, but work with me on this.) And yet…

See, here’s the thing. I know (roughly) the physics that keeps a multi-ton steel behemoth aloft. I know the huge amounts invested in the care and maintenance of its systems. I’ve flown countless times.

Yet to some prehistoric part of my brain, it still seems like a complete freaking miracle to me that those wheels actually do leave the tarmac for any significant length of time. And to keep that miracle happening long enough to get us to a safe cruising altitude, my inner awestruck Neanderthal is happy to switch off whatever gizmo it takes: iPad, Kindle, pacemaker… just name it.

But that’s me. When it comes to switching off before taking off, where do you land?

Dial ‘M’ for ‘My God, You’re All Over the Road’

Dial ‘M’ for ‘My God, You’re All Over the Road’ published on 1 Comment on Dial ‘M’ for ‘My God, You’re All Over the Road’

I live in a place where they’ve recently banned the use of mobile phones while driving, with additional penalties for texting. And I have a lot of company: Six U.S. states have prohibited handheld mobile use by drivers, and 20 won’t be happy with you if you SMS from behind the wheel.

(It’s having an impact. I’m noticing a sharp reduction in “Totally just ran someone over” tweets from friends.)

While the focus is on safety, and rightly so, I do wonder if there might be another benefit: inspiring more people to leave the car at home and take transit. Don’t laugh (well, not until you get to the cartoon, at which point I’d kind of appreciate it if you would). A lot of us treat mobile connectivity as a compulsion, and the enforced hour-long severing from the hive mind for twice-a-day commutes is a genuine pain point. And the growing strength of everything from location-aware apps to augmented reality will only sharpen it.

For car drivers, the freedom of the open road, as illusory as it has been for decades, is about to get more so. Mass transit may at times be crowded and uncomfortable, but with the escape to cyberspace just a few keystrokes away, buses and trains may well eclipse the car as the homes of true mobile freedom.

Force me to choose between my mobile phone and my car, and I’ll do my best to hang onto the phone. Your mileage, of course, may vary; what choice will you make?

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