About cell phones' future

In the last issue of Receiver, there is an insightful article by James Katz (Professor of Communication and founder of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies at Rutgers University) about cell phones and the changes telephony encounters. When giving his take about cell phones' future, he highlights an interesting point:

In terms of anticipating what future users will want of their future phones, an important consideration is that the categories by which one orders the universe today are not necessarily good guides to understanding the way the world will be seen in the future. A brief anecdote may illustrate the principle using a perspective of a phone's operating functions: a bright 9-year old American boy I know downloads mobile phone games and ringtones at every opportunity. He is also adept with videogames and online games, joysticks and controllers. Yet the first time he encountered a fancy 1970s "Empire" style wireline telephone, which had a rotary dial, he was baffled. He simply did not know how to use the phone because he was unfamiliar with a rotary dial and he had never seen one operated before. In effect, the digital dial pad had de-skilled an entire generation. It is easy to imagine that within a few generations knowledge of the rotary dial's operation will become nearly extinct. So one important lesson that could plausibly be extracted from this anecdote is that future users are likely to have a different sense of how communication technology should operate.

Why do I blog this? This is relevant in terms of future forecast since it shows how different systems could operate, through various affordances and interactions.

[James Katz also has another cross-generational anecdote about an 8-year old girl who exclaimed to her grand-mother using a bulky cordless phone "Gee Grandma, does that phone of yours have a phonebook?" when the grandmother informed the little girl that she needed first to look up the telephone number in the phonebook.]