19.333 contemplation and computing

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2005 06:23:17 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 333.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2005 06:17:56 +0100
         From: "Amsler, Robert" <Robert.Amsler_at_hq.doe.gov>
         Subject: RE: 19.326 contemplation and computing

The cell phone is altering public space. While the effect upon
individuals may be subjectively interpreted as leading to a new society
in which continuous communication is enpowering, the effect on public
space is that of a sustained irrelevant conversation. Today there is
virtually a guarantee of at least one cell phone conversation in
progress per subway car for the entire duration of a commute. The
question is how many cell phone conversations can public space sustain
before this becomes an intolerable background chatter. Just like
cigarette smokers who didn't care for secondhand smoke, cell phone users
themselves may begin to notice that it is hard to have a conversation
amidst multiple other conversations taking place simultaneously. While
audio devices for music can only be used with earphones, cell phones
intrude into public space at the expense of everyone else's audio
environmental quality. Is the answer that we will all have to wear
earphones when outside to dampen the sound of everyone else's
communications? Is a set of earphones and a music audio device the new
defense against cell phones, the way sunglasses are an accepted defense
against bright sunshine. Will future society regard people without
earphones who ride mass transportation like travelers who forget their
sunglasses when going to the beach?
Received on Wed Oct 12 2005 - 01:53:31 EDT

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