Mobile Phone Usage

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Reflection on Understanding the Mobile Device Usage

Related paper: Brown, B., McGregor, M., & McMillan, D. (2014, September). 100 days of iPhone use: understanding the details of mobile device use. In Proceedings of the 16th international conference on Human-computer interaction with mobile devices & services (pp. 223-232). ACM.

Time: 4th March 2014

In this seminar professor Barry Brown had a discussion with us about iPhone, or I can say smart phones, in respect of their roles in people’s lives and how it is been used.

The most surprising thing I found from the paper is the human’s nature of refreshing content re- gardless of the notification scheme of the smart phones. I thought only when people are bored, will they refresh the content online aimlessly. And sometimes one can become to addicted to it and this can became such a waste of time.

I just read about Dieter Rams’s principles of good design. One of them is “good design should be honest”, which means design should not be more powerful than it really is, and should not manipulate people. And I think it also applies here because smart phones should not make peo- ple addicted to it by providing easily accessible informations and connections with others. But the good thing revealed from the research is that people also interact with each other when us- ing smart phones. From several discussions with my friends I also found out that sometimes smartphones can be a trigger of topics among friends, e.g a very interesting game, a funny picture or a news one saw from his phone can be physically shared to others thus arise topics. Or friends can recommend interesting applications to each other.

I am still confused and wondered of the role mobile phone has played in every ordinary people’s life. The easy access to others through smart phones enrich one’s personality in some way, since it makes it much effortless to get in touch with someone. Especially for people who is shy to talk to others face to face, smart phones somehow is a shield to protect oneself as well as a tunnel to reach others. Pressing a button and texting some messages is easier than walking to- wards someone and start a conversation.

However, as it became so easy to approach other people through smartphones and internet, the effort one spend with his friends is less compared to the old time. As a result, people’s feelings and emotions with each other changes, or become shallower. I am also curious about how the form of communication among people will effect the quality of their relationship. Are the social activities online have the same effect as face-to-face communication?

And I liked the metaphor of “digital knitting”, it is so funny but so true! It happens so commonly that when a group of friends gather together, if the conversation is not so interesting or only some of the friends are talking, others will listen while refreshing or searching the web at the same time. And of course they will join the conversation when they hear something that make them want to talk. I think even without smartphones, this phenomenon happens in other forms, e.g. knitting, daydreaming, checking phones for SMS, etc. !

Though I guess I had to admit the fact that smartphones are changing the way how people communicate and spend time, I hope they are just alternatives, not replacement.

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