and the rise of the mobile device as way to stay in contact beyond voice.
Although technologists and hardware manufacturers thought differently, most mobile rangers and pundits have understood that the next killer app beyond voice or text would have to be about communication, since the mobile phone is a communication device. They were partially right. Communication is such a productivity oriented term, the next killer apps are really about keeping in touch.
This post on ambient intimacy – even though the second half of the post has nothing to do with mobile phones – got me thinking about the way I, and many other mobile rangers, are sharing our lives. We are using dead simple applications to share tiny bits of our lives very often. We are doing this because these sharing services are both dead simple to use and also because they’re multi-modal. I can add a post, or check the posts of people I care about, in a variety of ways – including from any mobile phone. Both these factors don’t just affect what I share, since my posts are limited to 140 characters or a picture or a video, they effect how often I share things – which is quite often. And most my friends on these services do the same.
By creating simple services that eliminate the barriers to sharing tiny parts of our lives, services like Twitter and Radar, even Flickr or youTube, are bringing people closer together – making us feel as if we’re right there with each other. And it’s not just friends they’re connecting. I can follow the life of an interesting total stranger the same way I can follow my friends. We could always do this with blog posts, but blog posts are far more infrequent and usually less intimate because they require so much effort to create. And now there are tools like Tumblr that allow us to assemble all these quick posts on different services into a unified space so people who still want to consume my life the old fashioned way can. Most of them even have mobile sites if people want to be sortof modern and check up on me that way from their phone.
Though they are multi-modal, both Twitter and Radar revolve around the mobile phone, as do I, as does pretty much anyone in the developed world and under 50. The mobile is quickly becoming the center of our lives. Not just for productivity, but for staying in touch. It’s no longer about calling just coordinate a task or meeting, but texting just to say hi or share something funny.
I see these services as the tip of the iceberg. They are doing a better job of breaking down the inter-modal and inter-carrier barriers than the carriers or manufacturers are. But currently they are limited to helping people who know each other or know OF each other to keep in intimate contact. The next step is to help people who don’t know each other become intimate. Facebook, I’m in like with you, even Nokia are trying to solve this problem for mobile users. But none have succeeded on the same scale yet, because no one has figured out the magical lovegety formula in a mobile-friendly way. (The lovegety was a Japanese matchmaking gadget that would chime when people matching your target profile were nearby.) That still requires lots of user input and either a large display or lots of computing power. As services like Twitter, Radar, Jaiku and others become more successful, we’ll need to see services that let you integrate all your posts into on place like Tumblr, but then use those to match you up with other people you might like. Then we can be free of social networks’ desktop tyranny. And then the mobile phone will truly be the center of our social lives.