Saturday, January 28, 2006

The future of Mobile Phones

Since it is virtually impossible for me to keep up a regular scheduling for posting to this list, I thought that I would try a new experiment: to simply write about what I think about everyday, what I code for everyday, and what I write papers about every other week or so: mobile phones, their software, and the way they have affected society.

Yesterday, I picked up a book called The Mobile Connection by Richard Ling. Most of the book is a vast overview of statistics, academic references and recap of social uses of mobile phones which you probably already know about. That is not, however, meant to be a disparaging remark - it successfully captures a vast set of data that is scattered around, misquoted, and often misunderstood by many people in the community, including the so-called pundits.

The most interesting idea in the book, however, is not the main theme of the book. Richard Ling proposes that society was fundamentally modified by the wristwatch/time keeping devices, and that the way we view the notion of the schedule and the meeting is based on this idea. He also argues that mobile phones, given their instantatious nature and ubiquity, provide a solution for last minute changes/ad hoc meeting/ and non-specific meeting setups. The examples themselves are self-evident, until you start really thinking about the implications of what he is talking about. An example of mobile phone meetings (you've probably had a similar conversation today):
A: Want to meet up tonight?
B: Sure. How about around 10.
A: ok - i'll give you a call.

Later on in the evening, A and B may work out what to actually do, and where to do meet. Now, if we imagine this as an application, this could be translated into a software system which does the following:

We define a meeting as being at 10ish and having certain particpants.
At 10ish, most of us are in the same location, or available for a remote meeting, so our mobile phones warn us that the meeting starts soon. We continue working, not wishing to waste time standing around waiting for people. When everyone is ready, the phone tells us, and either directs us to go to the conference room, or dials in.

This system can accomodate anything from delays due to traffic, or people missing from the meeting. THe system can take over and herd people into the rooms.

Any thoughts?

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