December 4, 2003
Cell phones and placelessness
The cell phone has changed our sense of place more than faxes, computers, and e-mail.
In this thought provoking article in Metropolism Magazine, discovered on Smart Mobs, Paul Goldberger offers a critique of mobile phones and space, finding the cell producing a lack of spatial meaning.
"When you walk along the street and talk on a cell phone, you are not on the street sharing the communal experience of urban life. You are in some other place--someplace at the other end of your phone conversation. You are there, but you are not there... You are either on the phone or carrying one, and the moment it rings you will be transported out of real space into a virtual realm".
[...] The great offense of the cell phone in public is not the intrusion of its ring, although that can be infuriating when it interrupts a tranquil moment. It is the fact that even when the phone does not ring at all, and is being used quietly and discreetly, it renders a public place less public. It turns the boulevardier into a sequestered individual, the flaneur into a figure of privacy. And suddenly the meaning of the street as a public place has been hugely diminished.
[...] "Now calling across the street and call-ing from New York to California or even Europe are precisely the same thing. They cost the same because to the phone they are the same. Every place is exactly the same as every other place. They are all just nodes on a network--and so, increasingly, are we".
A must read.
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