Marianne van den Boomen on 11 Nov 2000 22:32:58 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Cellphones and the Cancer of Cellspace

On 14:44 11-11-2000 +0000 Benjamin Geer:

>I watched mobile phones become ubiquitous in New York, and I heard
>many people walking down the street, loudly having entirely pointless
>conversations, usually along the lines of: "Now I'm at 38th Street and
>6th Avenue..."  I had no doubt that this was type of ostentatious
>public performance was the expression of an intense emotional need.
>But what exactly is this need?

The need to stay in touch with the ones you're going to. The need to say
you're arriving soon. The need to sustain at least a private network in a
society which had almost completely demolished public space or made it
anonymous space. The need to be assured that you're not alone, that your
existence is not in vain but connected to the existence of other people.
I'm serious about this, this is not ironic!

>I don't have a mobile, because it has always seemed to me that I would
>have no use for one.  I have few friends, and no one ever needs to
>contact me on short notice.  In these respects, I'm no different from
>most city dwellers.  However, I believe that it's precisely those
>people that have no practical use for a mobile who are most likely to
>buy one.  

I don't have a mobile either. But there is no reason to disqualify the uses
other people have for their mobiles.

In a city like New York, where loneliness is the norm,
>people wear their social relations as a badge of superiority.  It is
>bad enough, they feel, to be lonely; it is worse to *appear* lonely.

My impression is completely the opposite. People talking in their mobiles
seem to be completely unconscious about how they appear to passersby.
(Otherwise they would not be talking so loud :-) They are in a private
space, they are acting in their private network. 

>The mobile is a simple, clear statement to the world: "Look!  I have

I would say the statement is: "Don't look! I'm not with you in a public
space, I'm with my friends in my private space. Leave me there."
Actually that statement is worse for the remains of public space than your
statement, which at least wants something from public space.  


Marianne van den Boomen

Marianne van den Boomen
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