On the way to work this morning I encountered the following scene. Ten or so students sharing their morning journey with and through their smartphones. Received wisdom says we are alone with our smartphones, due to our intimate relationship with them. However, recent observations show mobile experiences can also be shared experiences.
Of special note is that they weren’t involved in isolated activity, the majority were involved in at least two other friends’ activity.
As usual, the boys and girls cluster by gender, but even there, the cross border communications continued. The boys battled colourful foes or arrays of objects, the girls shared pictures, games and stories, with a few sharing across the gender divide on occasion.
As with many generations before them, they share the cultural pass-time tools of their time with each other; whether comics, games, music, toys, etc These days it’s through smartphones, in a few more years it’ll be via Google Glass-like objects and gestural movements.
Our common perception of mobile commuting activity is that people operate in isolation, and that smart phone use in public is anti-social.
That may be a common assumption but it’s certainly not the rule.
Increasingly, however, I notice that mobile use is publicly shared and socially connective, across more situations. The use of a device shouldn’t cause us to assume separation from the people in our space. I think we’re even more engaged with our surroundings than people reading a newspaper (whatever that is these days) or book (increasingly, also on our devices).
When considering how we interact with our devices it is unwise to assume it’s not a shared activity. As with any research, its unwise to rush to a conclusion on earlier assumptions.
Here’s my stop. Off to work!