EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF 3G MOBILE PHONE TECHNOLOGY ON GLOBAL ...
EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF 3G MOBILE PHONE
TECHNOLOGY ON GLOBAL COMMUNITIES
REPORT SUMMARY/KEY FINDINGS
RICHARD BENSON, MARK RADCLIFF, STEPHEN ARMSTRONG, ROB LEVINE
Report Summary/Key Findings
CHAPTER II: 3G AND COMMUNITY CHAPTER III: 3G AND SELF
Group think Mobile memories
Introductory section juxtaposing old model of a mobile-phone exchange Exploration of uses of 3G phones as hard drives for humans: storing
between two people with the emerging 3G archetype of a conversation information that helps people manage their worlds and navigate their
between anything from three people to thousands of them. Introduction lives day-to-day. Examples include memophotos, pictures taking expressly
of 3G-enabled virtual communities such as LunarStorm (Sweden) and Mixi as useful information: bus timetables, transport maps, etc.
(Japan) and introducing idea of 3G circles of trust and communication.
The video stage
Pocket peers How the arrival of videophones has shown people respond to the idea of
Explanation of how video and photo features on 3G handsets are enabling being seen in a variety of ways, and a summary of what those strategies
users – usually those in their late teens and early 20s – to keep in are, with each given a theatrical tag: The understudy is somebody willing
communication with virtual ‘peer panels’ of friends, whom they can to talk on the videophone, but still uncomfortable with the idea; the leading
consult remotely on social plans, purchases (hence “peerchasing”) and wo/man embraces the videophone and consciously puts on a performance,
other activities. sometimes even “managing” the context – lighting, angles, etc – like a film
set; the no-show is phobic about videophone conversations and intends to
The instant postcard avoid them at any cost; the natural is a person completely at ease with the
The instant postcard is a film clip or photo sent to a friend far away. Unlike idea of the videophone, excited by the extra layers of honesty it can transmit;
the old card postcards which took time to move over great distance and could the mask is someone who wants to video-call but is nervous about exposing
be read along the way, this variant is immediate and shared by only those his face and sacrificing anonymity.
chosen by the sender. It is, therefore, an illustration of how 3G acts as a
dissolver of distance, allowing people to “be” everywhere at once. Teleconvergence
Mobile phones normalised the idea of a personal electronic device as
something to be carried everywhere, a key portal to your personal world
that went everywhere its owner did. Digital cameras and MP3 players have
benefited from this process, but with the result that – in the words of one
tech exec – users can now suffer as a result of their device-laden “pregnant
handbag”. That problem, partially created by the success of older-generation
mobile phones, is in the process of being resolved by new 3G phones as
people understand that one gadget is all they need for everything.
CHAPTER IV: 3G, LOVE AND ROMANCE CHAPTER V: 3G ETIQUETTE
Would like to meet: dating services Anthropomorphic angst
The usefulness of 3G for people looking for romantic partners. Though the Or, the polite paradox. Either way, this discusses the strange fact that
biggest commercial video-call service launched this far in Japan was not a “polite” mobile countries such as Sweden and Japan, place great
commercial success, various formal and informal uses of 3G features have emphasis on decorum, unobtrusive phone use and discretion, yet regard
been. A man in Israel makes video calls in addition to viewing profiles of their increasingly feature-heavy, personalised handsets almost as people,
potential partners on a dating website, because such conversations – being and so, paradoxically, behave increasingly ostentatiously in relation to
spontaneous and intimate, rather than prerecorded and generic – give him a callers. Japanese “belly talk” an example of the kind of gestural language
much better sense of the personalities of others. Japanese girls too shy to unwittingly used in such phone conversations.
ask for boys’ numbers take pictures with them at parties and then send them
those pictures, thus initiating contact in a less nerve-wracking way. Alpha mail: status and browsing in US cities
An email account was first a status symbol, then a ball-and-chain tying
Long-distance love businesspeople to desks. So now, being able to browse mail out of the
Mobile phones have made it possible to sustain long-distance relationships office, via a 3G device, is a status symbol: you can be out but still at work.
in which actual physical contact is very rare. New 3G features are adding Describe local variations on this status system: the player-displayer (New
an extra dimension to this trend. A fighter pilot feels video calls give York/Washington DC), the always-on entrepreneur (San Francisco) and
conversations with his distant girlfriend much more meaning, because of mediated mobility in relation to Los Angeles’s entertainment industry, the
gesture and expression (“things that can’t be said”). A partner of a soldier one place where it’s still key to have an assistant who browses your email
finds that her videophone has made privacy possible in a place – an army for you.
barracks – where there was, historically, no private space at all.
‘Tooth and fiction: Bluetooth encounters and urban myths A breakdown of how a video caller frames him or herself sets the parameters
Exploration of the way Bluetooth generates myths. The key to this power for the conversation: passport control is the standard, neutral mode of
seems to be the way it enables a sudden communication with anyone exchange; necking sees the frame shift position to take in the neck, opening
similarly ‘switched on’ so that an anonymous crowd suddenly becomes up the possibilities of a more intimate exchange without any promises; going
a place peopled with potential intimates. Examples include those of boys down is any framing that goes below the neck, suggesting that anything goes.
and girls swapping details and photos, Bluetooth flirting and the fictional
phenomenon of “toothing”, dreamed up by a UK journalist as a prank in
2004 but taken up as a serious story by the news media.
CHAPTER VI: 3G AND POST VERBAL COMMUNICATION CHAPTER VII : 3G AND SPEED
Digital democracy Time is money: 3G and the entrepreneurial spirit
How recording via mobile – whether sound, video, or still image – has 3G is being seen as a tool for making the idea of wasted time or dead
broken down barriers between “public” and “private”, leaders and citizens, time redundant: Japanese commuters are reading e-novels and comics
etc. Examples include Colin Powell and Tony Blair photographing with their on their 3G handsets; Korean students are downloading lectures so that
own phones at grand, televised occasions – in each case they behaved they can get on with running their businesses. For the near future, there’s
like audience members, not old-fashioned statesmen. excitement about phone as “secretary”, helping to manage individuals’
lives, both business and social.
A trend related to digital democracy, mofessionalism is the result of 3G Junior elites
handsets equipping users to act as professionals. Mofessionalism is the How young people’s ease with multimedia applications has created concern
phenomenon of amateurs being enabled to become experts or correspondents for parents being out of touch with their children, but also how it has
by having the right technology and being at the right place and time. empowered young people, who are alert to certain cultural phenomena
months before they register with mainstream society and media. Youthful
Closer to God: some spiritual reflections on 3G transmission of data via phones at near-instant speeds is a kind of modern
How assumption that technology estranges people from technology is being equivalent of nursery rhymes.
disproved by the way phones are being used by the faithful. Israelis can
subscribe to a service whereby their phones are switched off by the provider
for the duration of the Sabbath. The Church of Sweden ran a campaign
featuring mobile phones displayed as a kind of alternative to faith. Mourners
at the Pope’s funeral used phones to document the event, creating a new
kind of relic.
CHAPTER VIII: 3G AND SPACE
Where are you?
How “Where are you?” was the universal mobile-phone question pinpointed
by Sadie Plant in On the Mobile and why it needs a rethink in the 3G area.
The new technology, after all, is not about mobility, but also, thanks to GPS,
Bluetooth, etc, about specific locations. The relationship between 3G and
the physical world is a new, multifaceted and unique one. South Koreans
can track friends in a neighbourhood via handsets, and make notes for
collective viewing on virtual maps. Some Japanese prefer analogue GPS
(their term for giving directions via video call), but still use GPS – eg, has
led to a reduction in numbers of hikers stranded on weekends.
A remote control for reality
How phones are increasingly not an escape from reality, but increasingly
a mediating device between users and that reality. One Japanese service
provider offers a free download that turns phones into remote controls.
Swedes check on summer house webcams via phones.
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.