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More Myths

Mizuko Ito has a new book out about mobile phones and she offers a PDF of the introduction.
Two things strike me about the introduction. The first is what appears to be a false comparison about US attitudes to mobile communication. For example she states:

In the US, mobile phones are not universally heralded as an "advance", but have continuously been questioned as a problematic technology that erodes personal space"
Sure people are annoyed by rude cell phone users, but the "problem" is not the telephones, but the users themselves. A quick google search shows that there are over 180 million US cell phone users. This is a huge rise from the 1991 base of 7.6 million. I'm willing to bet that people are using cell phones because they like them, not because they are forced to. They do consider them an advance or they would not adopt them at such a rate. It would seem to be the case that they are popular and not seen as problematic except by those who like to complain (hey, maybe people in the US are just more vocal about the problems...nah.) Likewise she dismisses US adoption of text messenging:
"The US, the supposed vanguard of the information society, has been stubbornly resistant to the allures of mobile messaging"
This entirely ignores devices like the Blackberry which is also known as "Crackberry" due to its willing participation in the vice of information addiction. I do not know if the essays within the book are myopic as the introduction, but to me, these examples indicate someone finding precisely what they are looking for and excluding the obvious contradictions. It does not bode well.

The second thing I was struck by was how difficult it is to read. I consider myself to be a pretty good reader so I thought, no, it couldn't be me. So I looked a bit closer. I think I have found the problem. Almost every sentence uses "and" to compound things. One remarkable sentence has the word "And" embedded in it eight times. Beyond mere confusion, the overuse of conjunctions can overload the sentence with meaning because we are forced to accept all the permutations posited. Eight "ands" could imply up to 256 separate particles of meaning. It also has the effect of forcing upon the reader an acceptance they would not normally accept. The reader can agree with one conclusion (or statement) and disagree with the other, yet the sentence structure does not allow this. What could be a lucid examination and introduction to a collection of essays becomes a complex and impenentrably dense jungle of words. Why?

But don't let my words stop you. I'm just pointing out where I think it could be better. I'm sure that in the main it is a great book.



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