Mobile isn’t mobile until it travels!
Its time for a The Cloud is Huge perspective refresh. And I assume we all agree that perspective is a “point of view”.
We use the term “mobile” to describe what detaches us from things like our homes, workplace, mothership. So mobility connotes freedom, independence, travel, motion, and a host of ideas which, ultimately, have changed historical notions of community, identity, and connection.
Now to the title.
I took a day trip by plane this week. My own “mobility” is usually limited to county-wide travel and commitments to various responsibilities, but only within a limited geographical area. One time zone, travel by automobile, trolley or bus, access to telephone, broadcast TV, satellite and cable TV, and a limited number of cellular towers.
As I passed through TSA security at the airport, I noticed that my “mobility” changed. New rules suddenly applied and the ease with which I was mobile at “home” took on new requirements. Connectivity and access to power was more complicated. But also the ease with which I was able to conduct business or locate travel services was suddenly at my fingertrips.
Travelling that day with a globe-hopping colleague who was current with all the available “bells and whistles” that are available to mobile travellers added to my concept of what mobility and movement really mean.
My guess is that only a small percentage of smartphone, tablet, and laptop owners move outside their own community. So, many if not most, are using only a fraction of the capability of their devices.
So, where am I going with this. We all need to better understand and appreciate both the limits and possibilities of mobility and what it affords the few of us who move as well as the large numbers of us who move less with their technology. And this is important because the issues that drive technology development are more often the challenges that face travellers than those who rarely leave the mother ship.
I am reminded of my recent experience with the movie, Gravity, in which the two space-walkers were tethered to the space-station by ropes and then were able to become mobile by using the portable propulsion system strapped to their backs. And they communicated using the two-way radios in their helmets.
But then the rope broke and the fuel gave out and the radio signal was lost.
Obviously this is an extreme example, but I don’t offer it as the literal purpose of this essay. For me it provokes thought about the meaning of mobility and the consequences of depending upon technology to meet human needs.
And to me it may fall short and ultimately leave me adrift, seeking a way back.
Thanks to the folks at Transition IT