Mobile Computing: A Wasted Opportunity

There’s a revolution brewing because of mobile computing, but it might never get off the ground.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, we’re now making computers so small and portable that they can be used anywhere–like right now, as I stand in line at Nordstrom Rack (Editor’s note: This blog post was written on 12/23/2010). All of a sudden, there is something productive I can do wherever I go (assuming you consider writing blog posts productive).

The danger is that all the usual siren songs are also there–the Four Horsemen of distraction: Email, Twitter, Facebook, and the Web. And with mobile computing, consumption is always going to be easier than creation. Even now, I find typing on my iPod painfully slow.

Clay Shirky writes about the potential benefits of “cognitive surplus” if we can redirect TV time into productive work. Heck, I’d settle for redirecting waiting-in-line time from videogames and idle sexual fantasies to productive work.

I would love to see people taking advantage of their downtime to write or self-reflect, but Silicon Valley seems determined to lure them into raising virtual crops or making virtual friends instead.

What do you do with your mobile computing time? Are you using it to advance the things that really matter to you? Or are you still wasting it?

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