I remember when everyone shouted into their cell phones and thought that their batteries drained faster when they made long distance phones. I remember when people (who now have cell phones) swore to me that they'd never have a cell phone. I remember when cell phones looked more like military radios. I think it's fine to gripe about technology, but I would warn those people who swear they'll never use a technology. Technology evolves and so do social norms.

We've been having a dialog recently about the relationship between social norms and technology. I think this is part of the same dialog. New technologies disrupt our habits and our norms and what we feel comfortable with. I am an early adopter type who uses every technology possible and I try to wrap my life around it all. Some people try the technology and point out the tensions. Some people ignore the technology. Technology evolves along with the social norms. When it works well, we end up with a technology that contributes to society in some way and becomes a seamless part of our social norms. When it doesn't work well it either damages society or does not integrate and is discarded.

Being the techno-utopian optimist that I am, I think that writing off Skype and IM as annoying is a big mistake. They are what military radios were to the cell phones of today. I think it's important to take what David Weinberger and danah have to say about the tensions they create and thinking about how to make presence more granular, how to make it easier to manage the emission of your presence information and control access to you. What DOES free VoIP really mean? Can it be a background thing that allows us to continue to focus on our work instead of being an interruption? I am very excited by IM and VoIP and think that the tensions and the annoyances they are creating is a good a reason as any to dive into the privacy, identity, presence and interop issues that we've been talking about for so long. The more annoying it becomes, the more people will care about these issues.

6 Comments

The difference between cell phone haters and skype haters is that cell phone haters just need to get a $100 cell to change their minds. Skype haters need to get a priceless private office in order to change their minds...

And don't forget the "I'll only use the cell phone for emergencies" bit.

What blew me away was Michele Knobel and Colin Lankshear's research which found the young people they were working with thought email just too slow.

Kids are using IM.

But are kids using IM because they have the free time and because, generally, they're more interruptable? I use IM somewhat, but when I'm working, I need to concentrate and random IMs or VoIP calls aren't cool. Luckily IM has the Away feature....

But overall Joi's point is a good one I think - the early implementations often blunder towards something instead of following a clear path simply because there IS no path - early implementers and early adopters are creating the path as they go.

I have cell phone but i dont use it for nothing only two or three times for a month. I think is not neccesary but is interesting for emergencies.

for all of you that do not get mail, try aol aim at netscape.com guarantee you get your mail, i know i am getting mine. thank you.

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Joi Ito : "New technologies disrupt our habits and our norms and what we feel comfortable with." Read More

Joi Ito has a post today in which the central point is basically that new tools like IM (Instant Messaging) and Skype (p2p VOIP software) should not simply be written off as annoying, using the analogy of military radios to Read More

You remind me of those people who said they'd never get cell phones. Read More

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