Continuous Mobile Attention

You might already know about Continuous Partial Attention, coined by Nat Torkington ten years ago. That's how we deal with life - we try to dip into multiple streams of information at once: watch tv and eat; read emails while listening to a presentation; doodle while on the phone. Some people have made it a real art, to the point that you wonder if they're never wholly anywhere.

These days you see people wandering on the streets, talking to ethereal voices (which would've been the sign of a loony only ten measly years ago), or texting away furiously. Online, many people have a chat window or IRC open, so that they can always be reached, and they are always partly present in the online community. A colleague of mine used to keep Skype open all the time when he was at home, because his wife and kids were living in a foreign country. So he was constantly present at their life. It's free, so why call them when he wanted to talk - he could just holler.

You might see where I'm going here.

Soon, people will have flat-rate data plans. Not just the iPhone users, but everyone. Maybe this will even start with the iPhone crowd, dunno. But then someone will install Skype on it. Or something like TeamTalk. And suddenly, with the ability to be continuously (and for free) half-present among your friends, family, or some other peer group, we'll see a lot more people wandering on the streets, never really quite there, listening and talking to voices in their heads.

All you really need is a Bluetooth headset, a multi-user Skype (or Gizmo) and a free 3G data plan, and you can be present in multiple locations at the same time. Be (partly) with your family, no matter where you are. Shift attention to whatever needs it. No switching, no choosing, no dialing. Just presence. And probably, a horribly mangled death under a bus.

(Yeah, and you can extend this to video as well, but that's going to need a bit more hardware innovation. That doesn't some people from trying, though.)


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"Main_blogentry_080108_1" last changed on 08-Jan-2008 19:31:40 EET by JanneJalkanen.