Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Down in the dongles

Romania 08 066
Mobile phones aside, digitally mediated person to person communication has so far, in the UK, tended to be location-specific. Given the relatively low level of free wifi provision, that means you’re either at home or at work (unless you’ve got a Blackberry). Any communication on the move (apart from by phone) is fraught with difficulty. So, largely speaking, Barry Wellman’s idea of networked individualism exists more in vision than reality. But times are changing: the mobile phone company 3’s affordable dongle gives you connectivity and freedom of movement. If competition drives the price down, multiple forms of person to person communication may become far more available when you’re on the move. Perhaps at that point we’ll be networked individuals, if indeed we choose to be. The choice would be nice, and there's some obvious benefits, but do we always want to be in contact? I suppose you can always unplug your dongle!

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