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Friday, June 29, 2007

iPhone Arrives... (I Predicted It In 1979)

Brief post to mark, with pleasure, the arrival of the iPhone...

The cornucopia of the Internet - what I call the "medium of media" - songs, YouTube, e-mail, the works - on your cell phone.

I wrote, in my doctoral dissertation way back in 1979 - "Human Replay: A Theory of the Evolution of Media" - p. 275, that "the wireless, portable evolution of media should continue to the point of providing any individual with access to all the information of the planet, from any place on the planet, indoors and outdoors, and of course even beyond the planet itself as communication extends into the solar system and cosmos beyond." And I added, on p. 276, that this "'systemless' system ... will eventually give the individual the same unrestrained access to information on the global basis that the individual has always enjoyed to information in the immediate physical environment."

I expected that to happen in my lifetime, but maybe not this soon.

After all, 1979 was the very very dawn of our personal computer age.

Cellphone by Levinson
My 2004 book, Cellphone: The Story of the World's Most Mobile Medium, and How It Has Transformed Everything, is essentially about what the iPhone, and other devices like it, are doing...




And here's a clip of me on the Discovery Channel, this past December, talking about the import of cell phones in our lives...









A fine day ... but, I'll probably wait a little until the price of the iPhone and its service comes down. I'm not only a happy futurist, but a cheapskate...

See also Hats off to George Hotz ... iPhone Boosts Literacy and History Lesson: iPhone Sales Will Exceed Expectations and iPhone: Not Better iPod But New Species of Media and New York Times' David Pogue Sings "I Want An iPhone" to "My Way" ... Mouth-Watering iPhone Commercial and the Real World ... Nano iPhone and the Dymaxion Principle ... Harry Potter and iPhone ...

and ... I'll be talkin' iPhone on my weekly KNX1070 Sunday interview, 7:20am Pacific time, July 8






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

25 comments:

dawn said...

To be honest I hate cell phones but my family has 5 because I need to be able to get in touch with the kids or if I'm stuck getting home. I really despize them though. I find people with the ear things look crazy talking tothemselves in the street. The technology is cool though. I ask my husband the other day when we are going to be in the Jetsons age. You know push a buttton and your dinner pops out. That is my dream, my hubby says thats what microwaves are for. Not what I was imagining. Anyhoo have a great weekend. Hopefully I'll remember to watch Meadowlands caught the last one and all I can say is WOW

tvindy said...

We're definitely getting there. There are still some problems, though. A large portion of the world's population has no access whatsoever to the internet, let alone internet-enabled phones. Only satellite phones work everywhere, and I don't think they can access the internet. (The one on Lost probably can, though.) Lots of publications, both old and new, are not available anywhere online. The same is true for television programs and movies. I'm guessing we'll be there in about a decade. (I'm so glad I bought Apple stock when I did.)

Anonymous said...

I hate cell phones and people who talk on them. They were a good idea for doctors and for other people who had to get immediate emergency calls, and they're a good idea for if your car breaks down or something. But the way that they are used now is crazy. My mom and my sister call each other from the mall, when they are in the same store. How lazy is that?

I finally got my emergency cell phone for Christmas. It's a Tracfone. I've used thirty minutes so far, and about twenty of that was when my car actually broke down.

Heinlein and people used to write about how the language would change over time. Like maybe we would shorten words or something because we couldn't afford the oxygen. Now the language has changed in just a few years because of idiot teenagers with their text messages and such. So I'm trying to figure out WTF doesn't it mean if someone LOL with their BFF?

Unknown said...

That video of you on Discovery discussing cell phones is very interesting and I can't blame you on waiting for the iPhone I am too (maybe a few years until it comes to Verizon)

Anonymous said...

I got to actually hold the iPhone at apple store. It is a great device. It will change the way people communicate electronically. A very cool device. I just wish Verizon was offering it.

Paul Levinson said...

dawn - your husband is right :) have a great weekend, too!

tvindy - yes, we're certainly not completely there, as yet - we have the technologies - and now we need to get them far better dispersed - but I agree that that will likely happen in a decade...

anon - someone from Chaucer's time would find our written and spoken languages as bizarre as you say you find LOL etc ... the reason: evolution ... language evolves ... it's nothing to get too concerned about...

jameson - thanks, glad you enjoyed...

Anonymous said...

anon- Robert Heinlein was an early user of this type of shorthand... TANSTAAFL, for example.

Paul- nice prediction.

Paul Levinson said...

mike - missed your post in my last response - yeah, I wish Verizon had it, too ... they're very advanced in some ways, and, in others... well... (they have a Fiber Optic tv package in my area, which I would definitely take - except, they don't offer MSNBC!)...

roy - thanks! - and excellent point about Heinlein.

Anonymous said...

Language evolves over time, but it's not supposed to change overnight.

And you can't just go up to someone and say TANSTAAFL and expect them to know what you are saying. It works in a book, cause most of the characters in the book know what it means, and someone explains what it means to a newbie so that the reader will get it too. Trying to use TANSTAAFL in the real world, it doesn't work very well at all. My husband keeps trying to use it, and even I don't know what he's talking about unless we've just been talking about Heinlein. No one else would get the reference at all.

Paul Levinson said...

Fair enough - but I bet 90% or better of the population under age 30 understands what LOL is ...

Anonymous said...

So I wonder how many iPhones Apple will sell this weekend. Business20.com is estimating 200K. I am thinking more like 300K

Anonymous said...

It has been more than 24 hours and numerous phone calls, and my iPhone is STILL not activated. This is completely unacceptable, and apparently the problem is widespread. To make matters worse, the online application most important to me (XiTouch at http://xitouch80.linkedresources.com/login.html) displays terribly. I predict Apple's stock will tank on Monday, and I am very close to returning this glorified paperweight (and I was first in line - 10 hours waiting to get my iPhone).

Paul Levinson said...

mike - I'd bet on youe number.

anon: the course of true technology never did run smooth ... but I don't blame you for being angry, and I hope Apple comes up with fix very soon... (if it's any consolation, in the early 1980s it was rare to get any computer and its programs working right out of the box)...

Anonymous said...

I'm not under 30 now. And I wasn't into all this sort of nonsense when I was under 30.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you're a genius. I've never seen The Jetsons or Dick Tracy which had similar technologies.

Everyone saw this coming dude. It's only Jobs and co that got there with a truly integrated and sexy platform. I can't put the thing down.

Paul Levinson said...

anon - there's a lot of sense in that non-sense...

josef - absolutely, people have been seeing this coming for more than a century. But the Jetsons and Dick Tracy didn't put their communication strategies into a entire theory of the evolution of media :)

for more on the history of mobile techology - in popular culture and scholarship - you might enjoy my Cellphone: The Story of the World's Most Mobile Medium

Anonymous said...

UPDATE. Apple sells out at many stores. You can go to the apple website under iPhone and see what stores are sold out. All but 2 of the stores in CA are sold out as of Monday AM, and about 40% of stores nationwide seem to be sold out. Mostly of the stores on the west coast are sold out. I am glad I own AAPL stock.

Paul Levinson said...

Good for Apple! (and you!) Well deserved.

MiniMage said...

I think LOL belongs to the thirty-somethings; I know we were using that acronym at least a decade ago, when I was IRCing with people in their 40's and 50's.

I love my one year-old cell phone, but not so much for the talking part. It isn't an iPhone, but I can use it to browse the web, check & send email, watch videos (unfortunately, not on YouTube), play music, blog, get directions, etc. I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Anonymous said...

Well played sir... well played.

Camperton

Paul Levinson said...

m mage - I know just what you mean - it's a real pleasure to get my g-mail on my Nokia...

anon - thanks...

David Newman DNSF said...

Valley talk has evolved. I was like 'how historical' and they were all 'it was all predicted'.

The 'like virus' that infects speech uses more oxygen, and like takes more like time to like wade through?

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Anonymous said...

Way to toot your own horn. You could have waited for someone else to dig this up and give you credit.

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