Friday, March 24, 2006

Book Review: Smart Mobs

Smart Mobs Cover

Smart Mobs, The Next Social Revolution
Howard Rheingold, 2002, ISBN 0-7382-0861-2

This is an important book, especially for anybody interested in the future of mass communications, politics and/or our society. Rheingold talks about how portable devices, pervasive connectivity and increasingly powerful hand-held computing is leading to the creation of virtual communities tied together by their devices and not by their physical proximity. Remember Moore's Law applies to hand-held phone/computers [Wikipedia Link.] Most of his examples are not in the US. Rheingold makes the point that we are far behind in this country in having the kind of infra-structure that supports pervasive portable computing.

Despite being printed in 2002, Rheingold's book is timely today as we look at what is happening to print journalism. Why subscribe to a paper newspaper when the technology to get information in your portable device is here, is improving, is more timely and is more compelling than print?

One of the things that really is apparent to me as I read this book, and do things like text message my friends, is that there is a mobile generational digital divide based not on incomes, but on age. Many of my older (my age) friends who consider themselves very tech literate just do not seem to get this technology and the social implications of it. Could this be because our socialization skills were developed in a pre-silicon era? We have already seen pedagogical implications of mobile technology in students using the collaboration capabilities of portable picture capable devices to cheat on exams. Rheingold over and over makes the point that we need to not think of portable devices as cell phones, he says we need to think of them as remote controls for life. In my opinion when you mix portable devices with RSS enabled software as a way to deliver podcasts, you have a killer way to deliver instruction. Here is a related Blogsite [Link].

In my opinion we hold the future of journalism, the future of education, the future of social interaction in our society; in the palm of our hands.

This is a geek must read book. It rambles a bit, but worth the effort. My "new scale" rating [Link] 93.

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