My Droid X is in the mail. It’s a phone that happens to do internet things in a groovy way. It can also spawn multiple copies of itself that morph into common household appliances. I made up that last part. Having a smartphone (in the Droid’s case, a superphone) will change the way that I use the internet. Here’s how I think this will happen.
We’ve heard that the internet is quickly moving toward a social, semantic, app-driven culture of quick satisfaction and ex nihilo networks of limited temporal convenience that form and dissolve according to the whims of users. That’s a mouthful, but I agree with it almost entirely. Moving backwards…
Networks of Convenience
One of the big ideas in Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations is that networks arise for a common purpose and then either continue or die out. What if ATT users began a campaign to purposefully overload the phone/data lines and shut it down? Even users on other services could play along. It would be like a DDoS attack, but covered by one’s monthly fees. :) Granted, this would be counter-productive for everybody, but it would show the power of quick organizing. When the campaign ended, say at the end of a 24-hour period, folks could go back to being regular iPhone users, and ATT could go back to teh suck.
Apps Rule Everything Around Me
Apps are, by their very nature, tiny bits of useful material. Some mimic certain websites, others carry information meant to replace a given website entirely. Why go to Webster’s dictionary online when you can have the whole thing in the palm of your hand? Apps are often one-off tools; we use them then we pack them away. I check in on Foursquare, tweet something, then upload a photo to Facebook. And I’m done – the phone goes back in my pocket. Apps enter the social web and exit, making incursions, if I may, as they are needed.
What Do You Mean By That?
Our mobiles are going to help us better “teach” the web to learn what we’re about, what we need, what we like, and what we’re up to. Every time we scan a QR code, checkin, or upload a purchase through whatever that website is that does that (I can’t remember), we are building out the trajectories of meaning around us. Somewhere, a machine is crunching those data, trying to figure out the next pattern – and what to sell us on Wednesdays.
Don’t Just Stand There Talking To Me – Talk To Me!
Once I finally get my Droid in hand, I’ll be able to carry on back-channel conversations and substream chat during events (specifically Tweetups and conferences) that I otherwise would have missed. Mobiles and the apps installed on them make it possible to interact on two layers. For the rare occasions when I’ve been able to connect my iPod to a nearby wifi network, this kind of “other-place” is astoundingly fun.
I have a wireless network at my home. I’ve found that when I’m reading books or making crafts or cooking, having my iPod on hand (next to my phone, of course), makes it very easy for me to quickly drop in and drop out with regards to the web. It’s not simply a question of not wanting to scroll through an entire news article, which I don’t at all mind doing. It’s that I can, through apps and the way that things are now, accomplish what I want quickly.
When we’re out and about using mobiles, we don’t so much live in the internet as we make quick incursions into its various streams. If anything, mobiles have given us oodles of more freedom; I understand that this statement is old hat, but consider it in light of everything that I’ve just said. Mobiles are, by their very nature, contributing to less time spent truly “online”. It almost goes without saying that you’re less likely to follow the next 20 shiny blinky things if your mobile isn’t yet set up for that – someday, undoubtedly, it will be.
Incursions are less likely to contribute to distraction when we’re working. For those of us who have to manage multiple dialogue/creative streams at once, the ability to select when and where and how we dive into the web is freeing indeed.
*** This post is part of the “Blog Every Day Challenge“, which I have undertaken in homage to John Haydon, a captain of social media and inbound marketing for non-profits. A few months back he did the same thing. Granted, all of his posts imparted some kind of value to his readers (and he has many). I’m blogging about the same old stuff. Don’t call it “general interest”, because I think that it goes without saying that humans should generally be interested in what I’m doing. :) ***