Jan Chipchase: Our cell phones, ourselves from the TED conference
I have been subscribing to the Future Perfect blog for quite some time now and I am beginning to enjoy it more and more. Future Perfect is about “the collision of people, society and technology” and is written by Jan Chipchase, a principal researcher for Nokia Design. His job essentially involves traveling all over the (mainly developing) world and observing how people use their mobile phones then supplying this data to designers at Nokia who use it to create new products and services. His most interesting research focuses around Sente (a home-brewed method for transferring cash via mobile phone in Uganda), street hackers in Africa and Asia who, amongst other things, outfit phones to run multiple SIM cards (thus saving the user money by allowing them to call call contacts across different service providers) and the ways that illiterate people interface with their phones. However Future Perfect does not delve into these topics in any detail. It only hints at the work done with Nokia and makes subtle observations about everyday life, cultural nuances and the influence of technology for people across the world. In fact, maybe it is best summarized on his website here:
Pushing technologies on society without thinking through their consequences is at least naive, at worst dangerous, though typically it, and IMHO the people that do it are just boring. Future perfect is a pause for reflection in our planet’s seemingly headlong rush to churn out more, faster, smaller and cheaper.