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September 25, 2003


Ended up on JJG's "Page of only weblogs" yesterday.
Could not help but think about this.

Posted by fabio sergio | 4:05 PM | permalink


September 24, 2003


"Criminal Records" (via Jason Kottke)

"There is a studio mobile phone too. It vibrates every few seconds like a faulty alarm clock, as listeners call and text.
Scrolling through its inbox, I notice scores of "missed calls". Big N explains that this is how pirates gauge a record's popularity.
If listeners like a tune, they call in and then ring off, so the studio mobile registers a "missed call".
This costs callers nothing. If Xtreme receives over 20 missed calls from different numbers before a track ends, the DJs play it again.
This is why teenagers listen to pirate radio: it's interactive in ways legal stations can't match.

Posted by fabio sergio | 4:58 PM | permalink


Ready-made design. Kind of.

In Italy someone bought a wireless modem, then took a peek inside the orange box.
A (German) surprise awaited.
Not sure why, but I just can't suppress childish visions of tiny people speaking from the inside of radios and TVs.

Time is ripe for the Mobile Phone Liberation Front.

Posted by fabio sergio | 12:50 PM | permalink


September 22, 2003

Culture. Tools.

One of Howard Rheingold's new articles on The Feature, "Cities, Swarms, Cell Phones: The Birth of Urban Informatics", deals with the way mobile connected tools are speeding up our collective mentalbolism.
Simply put, we can do more things per unit of time than we used to in the past, wherever we might be, and this is fast becoming manifest at the urban scale.
The article reminded me of differently-focused, albeit similar, thoughts I had tried to gather in January in "Always-on people".
Howard has been kind enough to subsequently mention my two-cents-worth, and thus here I am, picking up a few loose ends and rambling a bit further along similar lines.

Nine months after first publishing "Always-on people" I will easily admit that while I believe that its overall thesis still holds, my point of view on the last part, the one concerning "linklogging", has somewhat faded (also based on a few responses I received, some as succinct as "bu%&$@it").
Possibly the most common critique to the short essay has been that it undervalues the freedom of choice we arguably enjoy when it comes to techno-cultural changes.
In other words, and possibly simplifying things a bit, "we can always turn our connected tools off".
In my humble opinion this point of view is in essence valid, but not necessarily applicable if the scale changes from the level of the individual to that of the individual's culture, and especially if the time factor is brought into the picture.

What I personally think was the essay's most evident shortcoming is that it seemingly focused on the micro-scale, on the tools, when it was meant to be focused on the macro-scale, on the culture.
Because the whole discussion here really deals with the relationship between culture and tools, and how they influence one another.
Inserting a new tool in a cultural context has the power to modify it, but isn't it culture that informs the tools it produces and their use?
Yes, chickens and eggs.
Now this is the level at which I'd be delighted to see the conversation evolve, when it comes to always-on tools and to what their ever-increasing presence among us will imply in the long term.
I remember at the time a brief, enlightening exchange of emails with Anne Galloway on the subject, and quoting, of all things, an episode from the original Star Trek series, "A piece of the Action", in which a gangster book left by a spaceship on a developing planet changes forever its history.
We should not ask ourselves how a major innovation will change our life tomorrow, we should ask ourselves how it will change our culture in the next 1000 years.
Longbet anyone?

Along the same lines let's also mention a common counter-example to some of the themes "Always-on people" explores: the printed press.
Right at its inception Gutenberg's disruptive innovation arguably promised to have the same impact connectivity is having today on our society, thus the same arguments should apply.
At the time people probably told who was warning them that the printed press would forever change the way knowledge was shared that they could always keep doing things the old way.
That they could always choose "not to buy books", that is was up to them to embrace the change or not.
The sweet flavor of freedom.
Six hundred years later has the oral passing of knowledge vanished?
No, not at all...but can you afford to choose "not to read" and still effectively be an active part of our current cultural milieu?

In most western countries parents are for all purposes forced by the law to have their children go to school and learn (at least) to read and write.
You will be able to turn your connected tools off, but will you want to, or will you even be allowed to, in a culture where always-on connected-ness will be an element essential to daily life activities? An element essential to people's active participation to their own cultural processes?
We all know that most choices are not devoid of strong economical implications, and that the role of any type of currency, especially when social in nature, can make or break the hypothetical "freedom" we are told to be enjoying in the western world.
If everyone else will be instantly available, all the time, will it be culturally acceptable not to be? Within certain social circles is it even acceptable today?
I can assure you that for most European teen-agers not having a mobile phone is akin to not having a car in the US, and incidentally Howard's article resonates again, with digitally-mediated social proximity overcoming the limits imposed by physical distance.

As a semi-final clarification point I also need to recall that for all purposes I daily work to give shape to an always-on future, so I am not advocating for its aprioristic demonization.
I simply believe in the power of educated choices, and with this belief comes the desire to empower anyone to make his/her own, especially when concerning matters that do not easily disclose their less obvious implications.
Needless to say this is also the reason why I admire people like Howard, who have long been trying to help their fellow earthizens to fully understand the changes they will be soon facing, potential consequences and all.

Posted by fabio sergio | 6:27 PM | permalink


September 17, 2003


This. This. This. This.

Posted by fabio sergio | 12:06 PM | permalink


September 09, 2003


No, I am not still hiking.
Neither have I fallen off the edge of the earth.
It's just that I've been questioning my deeper motives lately.
Finding no answer I decided that silence might be a good one for now.

You know where to find good people in the meantime, right?

Posted by fabio sergio | 3:25 PM | permalink


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