This was a peculiar sequence captured while waiting for the uptown N in New York City. This gentleman was enjoying a bit of mobile computing, composing something there while waiting for the train. I thought that in itself was intriguing — I suppose it’s not all that surprising. But, I was quite surprised that, when the train pulled into the station, rather than packing up and sliding his laptop into his shoulder bag, he carried it half open into the train. On the train, he continued whatever he was doing.
This curious bit of mobile computing is intriguing to me because of the utter confusion there seems to be between what is generally accepted as mobile computing and specific mobile usage contexts. In other words, under what circumstances does mobile computing really capture the essentials of mobility?
This reminds me very specifically about this incident — computing while mobile, in a car. Just about every design consideration for doing such things — ignoring hazards of operating a computer while in a car (perfectly safe for passengers or such) — are just ignored for the sake of an already well-entrenched chain of supply and design factors, such as pre-existing laptop configurations, designs and parts. It’s not really mobile computing at all, ironically. It’s fixed desktops with smaller bits and pieces that can be carried from place to place.