Image via CrunchBase
This is blog post has been adapted from its original version, which was published on CMSWire and written by Debra Lavoy.
Mobile used to be about “mobile access” but that’s not all it is anymore. Our portable devices are now access, participation, and creation devices. The rise of the integrated camera function and the ease with which pictures and video can be posted, tweeted, emailed and/or texted has made us all photojournalists, inspectors, and, most importantly, actors in our own stories.
Two Truths about Mobile and Three Personal Stories to Prove Them
Truth 1: It’s a mobile world
This has a dramatic impact in every sphere of life from the personal – I can document the charming antics of my children and share them with whomever is in my address book – to the professional – I can scout locations and send back information to the team – to the political – as we watch the map of the Middle East and Africa get redrawn in real time.
It is no longer enough to look up the meeting room schedule at a conference – you must be able to update it or even relocate it from the palm of your hand while standing in a random corner of the convention center.
The statistics are quoted and quoted again. But the story is this – we’re very mobile now. It is vastly more common to have a mobile phone than a land line, especially in the developing world. In the US, every child wants – and those with double digit ages have – a phone.
There are tectonic shifts in the work world, from the pace of change to the complexity of problems to new, more fluid organizations to new ways of working, and mobility is playing a big part.
Truth 1: Mobile is fundamentally changing how we live and work
Any discussion of mobile is, in my opinion, incomplete without reference to some of the most exciting research on youth and mobile by Graham Brown. Graham is so prolific and profound in this area, it’s hard to make a comparison, but start here with 50 Key Mobile Youth Facts. While Graham focuses on youth, he’s actually documenting how mobile has changed the way we live.
The importance of mobile can be told by the numbers, level of effort, and rush of new products into the market, or by a few vignettes from modern life. Note that the critical change we’ve seen in the last 6 months is that mobile is no longer about access – it’s about full “anywhere” participation.
Three Personal Mobile Stories
Story 1: Losing my mind, trying to act casual…
You have some variation of this story of your own, I’m sure. I was in London when my Blackberry was run over by a lorrie. I would almost have preferred to have lost my passport. At least I could have gotten that replaced at the Embassy. I was untethered and twitchy. I had lost contact with my colleagues, my home, and the group of people in London that I worked with. Of course, I had my laptop, but I had no office there, so relying on my laptop was very awkward.
People are deeply invested in their mobile devices, because our smart phones solidly bridge the gap between the personal and professional in a way that Facebook and Twitter don’t.
Story 2: Black and white to technicolor….
My boss is laughing himself to tears over my newly inarticulate, sometimes indecipherable email style. He let me expense the shiny, expensive iPhone, and I can’t type on it.
And yet it is a big improvement over my last phone, because I can view websites the way they were meant to be seen. Only smaller. Not only that, but I have access to apps!
But I can’t type. Darn.
Access itself is really important, but participation is equally so.
Story 3: Funny bumping into you here…
As I get off the plane, nose buried in the iPhone, I nearly trip over the airport shoe-shine person who is typing (I’m so jealous) on his Blackberry.
This is not just about us as individuals, it is about all of us.
For a while we were satisfied with email and the ability to (barely) read and respond to them. But that’s no longer enough. We need decipher-ability on the phone that is equal to what we have at our desk. We need even fuller participation.
Two years ago, my colleague, Michael Edson, was talking about mobile at the Smithsonian. He indicated it was absolutely imperative to the museum experience. I thought he was a bit shrill to be honest. But he was not shrill; he saw what I didn’t then, but do now. We have fewer and fewer passive experiences. And a place of learning cannot survive as a passive experience.
We are all photojournalists of our experiences, and our journalistic contributions are making the world a richer, more navigable place. We – and I mean we in the broadest possible sense here – are also changing the face of world politics, freedom, and justice. As John Hancock used pen and ink, and Paul Revere used his horse, and we now have cell phones to declare war on authoritarian regimes.
Mobile also means never having to be clueless.
Oh, and one more thing: I have two kids. One is 11, and the other 6. The 6-year-old is the primary user of the iPad in our family. She does not need any instruction, nor does she find it the least bit notable that I can photograph her antics and email them to grandma in real time.
She’s the one to watch.
Deb Lavoy has been studying the dynamics, culture and technology of collaborative teams and knowledge transfer for 12 years, while working in product marketing and strategy for companies as diverse as AOL and Adobe. She is currently Director of Product Marketing for Social Media at Open Text Inc.