Thinking about using the social web to do democratic things…..

iphones – gadget lust or actually useful?

Research proposal submitted!!! I’m enjoying a weekend of leisure having sent the final draft off last week – just have to wait for the research committee meeting next monoth now. Leisure is perhaps stretching the definition slightly as a lot of it has been spent cleaning and sorting in preparation for going off to the US next week but lets not get picky.

As a leisurely segue from the serious stuff I’ve been casting around for a new PDA recently – I have long been a palm pilot girl and though I have been unfaithful with a sony ebook over the last few months I was thinking I’d just get another Palm and be done with it (yes – I know my phone will probably do most of the things the Palm does but it just doesn’t do it as well). Anyway, I’ve been seduced by the iPhone on the meantime – what a lovely piece of design it is…..

I’ve also been watching people use them while I’ve been out and about and they do seem to be the first mobile device which really encourages social networking. The elegance of the apps mean that connecting to the social web seems to be seamless and this really changes your relationship with it. This is the kind of pervasive, always on, always connected technology that makes sense of status updates, twitter feeds and the like as the phone is suited to short sharp bursts of info. The ability to take short videos and then get them straight up on the web is huge as well.

None of these features are all that new but they are newly convenient and seductive in the iPhone – and hopefully in upcoming devices like the Palm Pre which will solve my feelings of disloyalty for considering other PDAs!!!

But the real point is that people have a really strong relationship with their phone – its odd but its true. A well designed device which is asking to be used socially is going to give a boost to the websites and services which take advatange of this. If we think the iPhone has changed the game in terms of how we could use this device – and if we think that future phones are going to clone and copy its functionality – then we had better start thinking about how to use them for democratic engagement.

Now – does that sound like gadget lust or do I need that iPhone? You be the judge!!

One Response to “iphones – gadget lust or actually useful?”

  1. mysterious meriel says:

    curious catherine

    I’m afraid the itouch is a compromise, and I don’t believe you are a woman that should have to compromise. The itouch is basically glorified ipod with a bigger screen to watch videos. Only when you manage to get into a wireless area do all the other features come to life. Since you are going to have to pay to have roaming wireless to make use of the itouch, why not pay for the call charges on an iphone, which does everything that an itouch does, and more!

    I have an itouch and it is a beautiful thing indeed, but I wish I had an iphone… You only want to carry around one device. I have to have a separate blackberry for work and wish I could convince them to have my email directed to an iphone.

    I know internet access on phones has been around for sometime now, but I think it is only with the iphone and itouch that internet access on the streets is really coming into its own. EVEN I HAVE ONE – QED! If everyone is permenantly online this must have a huge impact on your proposals. Err….sadly this is about as much as I can contribute to your research.

    mysterious meriel

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