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The smartphone is the territory

I recently had to distribute an item I’d ordered in bulk to a few people across the office. The folks had been given a time, my building and cube number. Our cubes aren’t labeled very well, so I’d stuck a piece of paper with big bold words on it in front of my desk (we have glass walls) to assure people they’d come to the right place.

Person after person came, staring into their phones (we have an app for internal maps), stood right in front of the glass wall and the piece of paper… and nothing registered. Most people kept looking into the phone, with a yearning expression on their face, as if they wished the phone tell them more. A few turned around 180 or 360 degrees on their heels (still staring at their screens), trying to orient themselves.

It’s telling of how much of our lives we’ve boxed-in to a few square inches of space.


  1. Sherene wrote:

    :) Haha, I can’t say I’m not guilty of that! It’s true that some of us have become clumsier in real life while becoming increasingly tech-savvy :P

    Friday, March 4, 2011 at 4:55 am | Permalink
  2. Tess wrote:

    This struck a chord, how much of our lives indeed?

    Sometime back I remember reading an article which explored the recurring themes in sci-fi about the impending time of cyborgs, a la terminator et al, as the machines converge towards becoming humanoids, adding self awareness, emotions etc.

    However there’s the less explored theme of the convergence from the other end, as humans add adependence on technology, maybe the cyborgs will evolve from us :P

    Monday, March 7, 2011 at 12:24 am | Permalink
  3. Anshul wrote:

    @Sherene – Physical clumsiness is a side effect, but thats not really it. Most people I saw were perfectly in balance :) but it’s just interesting how much about the world we expect our devices to tell us, that we no longer even try to look for actual signals from the physical world.

    @Tess – thought provoking point. Lets see what direction IBM’s Watson takes!

    Monday, March 7, 2011 at 1:18 am | Permalink

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