This article was lurking in a Smart Filter in NetNewsWire.
3G mobiles ‘change social habits’:
Widespread use of 3G mobile phones may change the way people interact and increase creativity, a study suggests.
Okay — only one point I want to touch on here and that’s the money angle of the study. Usage was heavy because 3G services were offered for free to the study participants. That’s fine.
Here’s my semi-related non sequitur — two days ago, while in San Jose at GDC, I had to call someone from Nokia, who had an overseas number. They were in the US, probably within 50 meters of me, but my Sprint phone wouldn’t call them without turning on international dialing. Fine. 20 minutes on hold, I finally got to the guy who was going to click a box in some back-office CSR application. Click it once. He didn’t need to click it once a month. But, regardless, it was going to cost me $5 a month to have the privilege of dialing a number. A recurring charge, no matter whether I made calls or not. That on top of whatever premium Sprint extracted from me for the call. (I can’t even call it “overseas” — the guy was nearby. And even if he was in a place that required crossing large bodies of water — what difference does that make today? I mean..really?) I thanked the guy and hung up, screwed my face in muddled disgust, and set out to find a friend who’d loan me their mobile. But then it hit me — Skype! I got on the WiFi there at the convention hall, plugged in my earphones and made the call.
It cost me about 17 cents.
Why do I blog this? Two things.
1. How much do economics inform change in social practice?.
2. Creative destruction — an expression Saskia Sassen deployed during this afternoon’s talk, may be in effect here, in hindsight. As a model for evolutions of changed in material instrumentalities â€” technical instrumentalities — Skype may be in the process of compelling conventional mobile media communications networks to revamp their business practices. Is that what creative destruction means? It also makes me think of the way protocols/architectures/softwares such as BitTorrent are engaged in a form of “creative destruction”, possibly. BitTorrent makes worldly change — BitTorrent is a change agent. The software, the protocol, what it is able to effect and how it eludes the grasp of existing ways of doing things — of doing business, of distributing content, all that.
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