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<nettime> Cellphones and the Cancer of Cellspace
molly hankwitz on 11 Nov 2000 09:40:29 -0000


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<nettime> Cellphones and the Cancer of Cellspace


All the American Market Needs to "Catch Up" is to Figure Out How Best to
Profit:
Gender is but One Factor

1.  Cellphones are great for two car car trips where directions on how to get
to that beach party or forest rave are a necessity. Calling from one vehicle to
the other is one way in which the 2-person social space created by "privatized"
cellphones becomes totally for the social good, especially when more than one
person is in each car and all are dying to get to the party. Likewise, highway
accidents and breakdowns become all the more conveniently dealt with when a
cellphone is neatly tucked into a handbag as roadside call boxes are sometimes,
especially in the bush, or the desert, or even in the 'burbs, miles/kilometres
apart. They increase a sense of personal safety and convenience.

2. Which brings us to cell phones and public phones...in San Francisco, the
first American city, perhaps, to have a democratic cafe Internet system, SFNet,
an unpretentious text-only grid of  terminals costing 25 cents per hour and
from which one could manage a personal email account from any participating
cafe location in the city (a way to chat,  post your on-the-road poetry, find a
job or a  room or a sex partner) public phones in districts where drug dealing
is high have been systematically removed by the city for the past 4 or 5 years
alledgedly because they were being abused by drugdealers. Especially in
gentrifying neighborhoods, the spectre of a drug dealer using the public phone
as a "private office" and offending customers often incoming from the 'burbs to
eat  and drink caused enough complaints as to have the phones removed. This
probably in conjunction with the city's unwillingness to continue to maintain
public phones on a regular basis due to cost or their location in bad
neighborhoods has led to a set of circumstances affecting the street 1) the
public pay phone, more difficult to find, was now more difficult to use in an
emergency or even to call for information 2) the sense of security and
convenience provided by a public payphone in the event of an emergency or a
spontaneous use,  decreased. The personal cellphone, of course, does away with
this problem of personal safety in given situations making it perhaps nicer for
females to be out late or for little old ladies to spend time in urban space or
for handicapped people to get around without fear or inconvenience. The
cellphone, of course, until it is free or 25 cents will not replace the public
phone as a democratic municipal service enhancing the quality of public space
for all.


3.  The incident of a cellphone user overheard threatening an unwanted
caller while standing at 8th and Astor." Never, ever, call me again
....I'll get my lawyer!!!..." seems to underscore a certain lack of social
space for which New York is already famous.

4. Visions of young women loving cellphones suggest 2 things: 1) a proclivity
for "networking" which isn't going away and 2) "personal wands".  The former
relates to the social space of writing and networking long attributed to women
and girls as a kind of socio-polticial space in which the female gender,
femininity and feminism have proliferated. From embroidery to ladies' chapbooks
to stickers, buttons, pamphlets, 'zines, and now the Internet and the Web, our
gender has managed historically to communicate and survive. The latter refers
to a design compeittion called 'Visions of the Future' in which delicately
designed "wands" (shaped sort of like buttplugs, dildos or phallic penlights)
will eventually enable their owners to do what the PalmPilot, the cellphone and
the remote control, at least, do now...yet, even more so, will enable persons
to interact with their wallpaper...somewhere inbetween electronic make-up and a
free-style joystick they come in a range of unique shapes and sizes and are
rechargeable by being placed in special "vessels" resembling candy dishes which
you keep on your coffee table. Women as consumers will be able, as well, to
create perfected faces, like avatars with which to address other cellspace
users.


5. It is quite probable that "the wife" in Mckenzie Wark's article was snoring
in the bed next to her frisky husband, because she was doped up on crack that
she purchased with her own little pink cellphone  and weekly allowance in
suburbia.  American suburbs, unlike what we might think from watching
too many crime programs on the inner city, have some of the highest incidents
of drugdealing and drug addiction and especially among housewives, of any part
of the US, outdoing most inner cities, in fact, for expenditures on crack! The
wife was probably nearly dead from boredom and possibly drugs when she fell
asleep because her husband spends so much time fiddling with his cellphone,
trying to connect. Curiously phone sex ads here in Queensland do not imply
virtual "sex" as much as they sell the idea of a nice freindly partner.

for research on wearable cellspace and personal wands:

http://www.design.philips.com/ICD/indexall1.html
http://www.design.philips.com/vof/toc1/home.htm




mh:>)

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