The varied uses of mobile devices: replacement for analog issues

I’ve been working on this post for weeks, but my portfolio has taken up much of my time. This will be very brief, as I just wanted to share Eric Schmidt’s thoughts on mobile devices and their uses for LIS.

At 6 minutes and 15 seconds into his keynote, he mentions this little tidbit below:

Over the next few years, all the mobile phones and tablets that are coming mean that you never forget anything: where you stayed, who you talked to, what you said. You’re also never lost. When was the last time you were ever really lost? And all your friends know where you are, too. You’re never lonely – there are always people “around” you. And you’re never bored, never out of ideas. “We can always suggest new ideas.” (Emphasis mine)

Here are the two things that I’ve always enjoyed about mobile devices: their ability to act as your offboard memory and their ability to act as a continuous connection to your social network.

As someone with serious memory issues, it’s nice to be able to have something on me that allows me to take notes, carry around other information or even look up information on the go. I know that many of these can be accomplish with pen and paper, but by using your phone you are down one less thing to carry. And besides, you have your phone with you all the time. And really, when was the last time using pen and paper helped you find out new bits of information? Remember, the origins of the Guinness Book of World Records was to resolve bar bets – instead of referring to this book, we now refer to wikipedia…on our phones.

In Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal mentions the idea that, in the case of MMORPGs, it’s not about the actual interaction with people but about knowing that you are in the presence of others. Having a connection to your social network acts in the same way. From my personal experience, I know that in certain situations where I am by myself, I take comfort in looking at my Twitter stream and engaging people through that. This is not to say that I am an inherently lonely person, but that sometimes you don’t want to interact with the people immediately around you and you choose, instead, to interact with your online social network (or even your RL friends through text message).

With the rise of ubiquitous computing and always on connections, we now have this amazing device that we carry at all times that allow us to do so many things. Yet, for me, the most useful aspects of the device are things that could be accomplished by analog, old school methods. Interesting isn’t it?

Live from Eric Schmidt’s Keynote at Mobile World Congress.

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