Issues with mobile phones

This article has been posted by Anna-Leah Bernstein et Ariane Faraldi.

Portable quotidian

Anyone who has misplaced or broken a mobile phone understands the role cell phones play in daily life. An unprotected phone located in unexpected locales, such as in the pool or under an aggressive shoe, can move even the most skeptical atheist to entreat the celestial guardians of technology (or earthly geeks) to deliver the phone from evil (aka the washing machine) at all cost. It’s clear that smartphones, not merely cell phones, have become indispensable. And amazingly quickly! It’s been nearly eleven years since the first convergent BlackBerry came out in 2003 and only seven since the release of the first IPhone. Yet we regard as ancient history the pre-smartphone age of T9 texts and take as a given that we can find iPhone 6 Pluses and Samsung Galaxy S5s (not to mention their counterfeit brethren) across the globe.

Sure, the democratization of smartphone technology may represent just one more sign that the world, as Mr. Friedman would say, is flat. But rather than launch into a philosophical discussion of the post-modern (or at least, largely post-flip phone) world, I’d like to encourage our dear readers to think about the role cell phones play in their lives. I’m not advocating Spartan unplugging, per se, but rather recommend that we instill our phone usage with greater purpose and appreciation of the technological marvels we take for granted.

The use of the mobile in an architect of information’s daily life

Nowadays, mobile phones may have multiple functions, otherwise known as technological convergence. Technological convergence allows us to deal without a certain number of distinct objects as phone books, cameras, maps, music player…. Among these objects is the personal calendar. Magnificent personal organization is a given when your job involves streamlining other people’s information, often while . Working with a diverse team of people with different areas of expertise and juggling, duties for numerous projects at the same time. Thank goodness, these calendars can be synchronized with your laptop, another crucial work tool. Yet phones aren’t merely powerful work tools. Phones occupy an integral place in emerging cross-channel information ecosystems, as loci of work, reflexion, and production. Every savvy Architect of Information must make good use of all tools relevant to information, including his trusty mobile.

Mobiles and technological surveillance

Mobile phones greatly facilitate technological surveillance or scanning, known as « veille » in French. Mobiles can receive all information necessary for such surveillance, and unlike computers, can be in most places (except cinemas and subways sometimes, especially in Lyon). Therefore, cell phones enable professional data sleuths, such as some Architects of Information, to conduct technological surveillance everywhere and, anywhere they get reception.

For example, I use my phone’s Twitter application for technological surveillance. When I’m bored (waiting for a friend, the bus, or my little brother), I’ll check Twitter and especially the accounts of professional technological surveyors. Consequently, I keep tabs on technological developments several times a day. And if it’s not with Twitter, it’s with Scoopit, or through email because I’ve subscribed to other websites, that I monitor technological events and innovations. Those are easy ways to get the information I want, especially because they are brought to my phone, wherever I am. I could also use my phone’s web browsing functions to hunt down the information myself. Clearly, these methods of doing technological surveillance are not completely different from the ones used with computers. But, in my life as a budding Information Architect, they are the ones I use the most.

Cell phones: Where will all the data go?

Our frequent use of cell phones also produces enormous amounts of data. Cell phones store contacts, photographs, music, emails, notes, and a whole host of Candy Crush achievements. Moreover, their ever-expanding host of features will continue to generate data and thus continue to create exciting opportunities for organizational experts and ever more challenges for the digital hoarders among us.

Indeed, analyzing the history of the telephone and the evolution of the device into a powerful system of storage has made me more aware of my own practices and current lack of overall archiving strategy. Just as archival institutions develop policies and strategies for deciding what to keep where, I propose that we cell phone users consider a similar plan. Think of it as another New Year’s Resolution to ignore. Take the time to learn how to back up your phones. Consider whether you need to keep all twenty-three selfies featuring you and the second cutest sparrow in Yellowstone Park. Ditto with screenshots, audio memos, and notes. Sorting through the immensity of your data could prove the perfect rainy afternoon alternative to surfing Pinterest. Or at the very least, may make you more sympathetic toward Architects of Information, librarians, and other professional data organizers.

Conclusion

From a Jetsonian luxury to an everyday necessity, cellphones, and especially smartphones, have clearly revolutionized 21st century life. Moreover, they’re near and dear to the hearts of every good Architect of Information, not just as great work tools but also because they’ve become a central information channel. Smartphones are also superb web-surveyors. Our phones produce an enormous amount of data, ranging from photos to texts, from emails to (web) cookies! As they continue to combine more and more functions, our phones will continue to become ever more ubiquitous–and invasive.


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1 réponse

  1. Dorian Seillier dit :

    Merci pour ce billet très instructif.

    Vous mettez l’accent à juste titre sur l’aspect ubiquitaire que joue le smartphone dans notre quotidien. Constamment sur nous, on le sort pour de multiples raisons afin d’être toujours connectés : aux autres via les réseaux sociaux, au monde et à son actualité via diverses applications. Nous sommes entrés dans l’ère du multi-task et le smartphone joue un rôle évident là-dedans : consulter ses mails pendant une réunion est aujourd’hui une chose banale, une pratique sociale parmi d’autres. Le smartphone est devenu un appareil indispensable pour la société de l’information dans laquelle nous sommes immergés. D’ailleurs, son omniprésence ne peut plus se réduire aux seuls pays du « Nord » comme on les appelle ; le marché du smartphone dans les pays émergents comme le Brésil, l’Inde ou la Chine est en plein essor, et les constructeurs se livrent une bataille acharnée au niveau des prix pour être le plus compétitif possible dans le secteur du smartphone « low-cost ».

    Mais il y a un phénomène qui préoccupe de plus en plus la société civile et les associations de protection de consommateurs : l’utilisation de nos données personnelles via les terminaux mobiles. En effet, la Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) vient tout juste de publier son second rapport dans le cadre du projet Mobilitics, qui vise à étudier l’écosystème des smartphones, et qui souligne plusieurs dérives :
    – la géolocalisation perpétuelle des utilisateurs, considérée comme la « reine des données »
    – la course aux identifiants à laquelle se livrent les éditeurs d’application afin de proposer du contenu publicitaire ciblé
    – le « laissez-faire » coupable des éditeurs de systèmes d’exploitation qui ne proposent pas suffisamment aux utilisateurs des outils de maitrise de leurs données personnelles.

    La question du droit à la vie privée et du droit à l’oubli se posera avec de plus en plus d’insistance dans les années à venir. Et la place des smartphones dans ce débat sera de plus en plus grande.

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