This is a great addy for a new Nokia product, the Nokia N900. The goal of the product is to bring the power of a personal computer to a mobile phone. Different power, different platform, open source… Check it out.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to try and sell you a cell phone (no endorsements from Nokia…yet).
But I love the explicitly subtle proclamation at the end of the video. The phone itself says, “The medium is the message.” That’s a statement harkening back to the late sage, Marshall McLuhan. The idea in this statement is that no form of media is without it’s effect, whether print, photograph, video, or…cell phone.
Often we assume that the content of a message is all that matters. It doesn’t matter what medium is used to deliver it. So a speech delivered personally, in writing, or over the radio is really the same speech, so long as the content is the same. In other words, it is what is said that matters the most.
McLuhan’s argument is that the various media we use affect us. We are changed by the television screen, the computer, the satellite radio. Our technologies shape us.
My Blackberry began to shape me a while back. I was ecstatic when I first got it…I could get internet access anywhere, get my email at anytime, and be completely accessible to anyone who knew my number. I could get all this information before, but now I was getting it pumped intravenously into my neurons.
The technology began to change me. Like so many, I was constantly checking my email or browsing the web. Here’s the problem…I was doing it at home so it blurred the lines between work and recreation. I was caught up in work or culture when I just needed to be engaged in the lives of those I love. Everytime my phone buzzed, I picked it up – like a Pavlovian dog drooling over meat powder. Sometimes I’d even get ‘phantom buzzes’. I’d think I was getting sensations in my hip (where I usually hang my phone) when really it was just the leather of my holster rubbing against the leather of my belt. I’d reach for my holster like a trigger-happy gunslinger only to find I had no bullets.
So eventually, I just turned off the email function of the phone and turned off the vibrate function except when needed. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think I need to be that accessible all the time. But I do think that I need to be fully present with those who I’m with. Sure, there are times when I’ll have the email function on (like when I’m traveling), but only as an exception.
Technology always has unintended consequences. I think our social consciousness has not caught up to the daily advancements. The medium is the message, and it is shaping us. We have to be careful that we are not caught unawares.