Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Ecology of Media

The Cell Phone

Calendar, Clocks, E-mail, Alarm Clock, Music Player, Camera, Note-taker, Television, Messenger – and oh I almost forgot - its also a Telephone.

When I was younger, the only people who had cell phones were business men, who always needed to be reached in case of emergencies. It was almost like if one of them still had a pager; they were the ‘old fogies’ of the office. Then I hit the age of 14 and I finally got my own cell phone, a.k.a. the brick. It was a large blue phone with a long antenna, and if compared to modern phones it would look like an ancient artifact rather than a communication device. But at the time, it did not even matter – it was my very own cell. At the time I probably did not even know what a text message was, and I also only had two other friends that I could call because no one else had phones yet, but that was also part of the fun, being one of the only kids (literally kid) to have a phone to themselves.
Eventually, by the time I had hit high school you were unique if you DIDN’T have a cell phone. Not only did everyone have one, but everyone was expected to have one. A cell phone ringing in class was a guarantee to your day. They became more than a luxury, they became necessity. You were only cool if you were accessible at any time of the day. The cell phone soon became a status symbol, you were really cool if your phone could play music, and even cooler if you could watch videos on your phone. Cell phones even had their own brands, such as Blackberry, or Iphones, which became incredibly popular, amazingly fast. I even admit to having a phone simply because of its aesthetics; I have the LG Touch phone and I only know how to use the phone and text message.
Cell phones have become such a huge part of today’s culture that they are no longer simply a phone, but your life – you could literally have your entire life programmed into one device. It could hold your schedule, your messages, your e-mails and even be your alarm clock. At this stage I am surprised that they are even still called cell phones and not Personal Device for Life. It just amazes me how something which was intentionally made for verbal communication has evolved into something so much more. The verbal communication portion of the device is one of the last things that it is used for now a days. Questions like “What is the quality of the camera?” and “How loud can I play my music on it?” definitely are asked more frequently than “How is the reception?” or “Does it redirect background noise?”.
It is almost hard to imagine life without cell phones now, because they have taken the place of so many objects. They have even taken the spot of wrist watches, because they display the time directly on the screen. They have become so advance now that I could not even dream up what even newer cell phones could hold for us in the future.

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