Cellphones vs Furbies

18 Jun

I was eight years old when I sent my first text message. There I was, my stout fingers fiddling through the keypad of my first cellphone, struggling to figure out how to “Press ‘Unlock’ and then *.” That was stressful. Frustrating, really.

Mind you, I had a 5110 then. Being the very advanced tangible piece of technology that it was, I decided to buy The cutest battle ever!that phone over a pair of Furbies. Looking back, I had no idea how cellphone companies targeted eight-year olds, how they targeted ME. Because for one, Furbies can talk, cellphones can’t. Furbies are furry, cellphones aren’t. Furbies can be tickled, you can’t do that to your phone!? But anyway.

Whoever thought of coming up with Disney cellphone cases is a genius. For one, those made me buy my first phone. Yes, I wanted a Donald Duck phone. I had no idea how SMS works. A second genius would be the developer of Snake (or Space Impact for the arcade lovers). Those two features widened the techie market, from kiddos to mommas. Everyone savvy.

Bill Gates have foreseen kids in front of gadget LCD screens as early as a decade ago. Cellphones were supposed to be for executives and yuppies (those bulk, black, call-only phones of yesteryears). Computers were originally for research, now they’re for everything except digestion. All these and more, because of those who made technology more affordable, who believed that this information exchange monster is more than search engines and keywords.

The prophecy is right:

…a combination of cheap and powerful computing devices, fast and convenient Internet access, and software innovations could make the Internet as common and powerful a resource as electricity is today

It is so common that you can find everything on the Internet – from cereal games to annoying co-workers to Britney Spears’ half-eaten sandwich for sale. Not that I need to say this to prove the Internet’s prowess, I know you have explored farther kingdoms than those I’ve mentioned. Let’s keep those a secret to ourselves, okay?

But one thing that Bill Gates forgot is the power of the human eyes. How we become attracted to something, how we push ourselves away from that something – it’s all based on how it looks. The HTML, the <tags>, the FTPs, all the geeky stuff – they intimidate people. But the images, the amazingly moving scrollbars, the cute round buttons, the friendly interface – those convert more and more people into internet users everyday. The content only gets them more hooked.

Google 1998

Google 2009

I actually do not know if the term “hooked” would suffice. People become so hooked that the distinction between our online and offline worlds is almost non-existent. In the words of Bill Gates:

People will be able to share information seamlessly across devices and interact with them in a more natural way, using speech, handwriting and gestures. Eventually, they will be able to interact with a computer almost as easily as they do with each other.

If not easier, Bill.

It is this power of technology to communicate that makes the Internet human, that integrates itself in our simplest actions. The Internet is becoming more social, a portion of the “real world” full of connections linking earthlings. It is communication that bridges the offline and the online. Some people even find it hard to take a break from their online worlds, and it’s all because of the tweets, the status updates, the instant messages, the videos posted by friends – all because of communication.

The design draws you in. The content gets you hooked. The communication overkills it.

It’s not just about the gadgets and the high-speed Internet. It’s the power of the Internet to communicate. It’s keeping in touch that engages people regardless of context, but it is through the Internet that communication reaches people and stays with them even when they are alone in their houses.

a combination of cheap and powerful computing devices, fast and convenient Internet access, and software innovations could make the Internet as common and powerful a resource as electricity is today

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13 Responses to “Cellphones vs Furbies”

  1. pennedinpink June 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Great article Angel! I also believe that the internet won’t be phenomenal if it didn’t cater to the most basic fancies of the human population: the obsession for information, the need to communicate, and the natural tendency to have connections. Bill Gates may be all geeky about it but the real reason behind this revolution isn’t the codes and programs (well they are part of it but still…) but the way they are utilized by Internet users.

    • thehappykimy June 19, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

      Nice blog entry you got there!

      The idea of a child choosing a cellphone over a toy is a symbol that gadgets and technologies are sometimes not used for their initial purpose. Like you, who had your phone just to play with snake, and occasionally send SMS, some new technology users do not maximize the use of expensive gadgets they buy.

      A very evident example would be non-office workers who buy and use PDA phones. I saw a few public utility drivers having very advanced and fully featured phones. Not that I’m putting them down, but they do not need the features/technologies in their gadgets in the kind of lifestyle they have. All they do with their phones is text and call, which is offered with much cheaper phones.

      • Gel June 21, 2010 at 7:59 am #

        Yes! This again is an issue of whether PDA companies really targeted public utility drivers (I still cannot find a study on this HAHA).

    • Gel June 21, 2010 at 7:57 am #

      “the most basic fancies of the human population: the obsession for information, the need to communicate, and the natural tendency to have connections”

      Yes I agree. The main reason why we get too attached to the internet is it’s power to relate with something human within us – being social and interconnected. 🙂

  2. patpetpitpotput June 19, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    i love your layout 🙂

    i agree with you, lara and kim haha. Seriously, i decided to buy a pink phone just because it’s pink. it’s like love i guess, you have to get that initial attraction to draw you in, right? Haha Apparently, i was attracted to the Internet and i fell in love with its features.

    • Gel June 21, 2010 at 7:53 am #

      YES. Finally. Something personal! Nice insight! Love! Nice!
      As in books, the cover can REALLY do so much, but it’s the content that can make you finish it all in one sitting. 😉

    • Gel June 21, 2010 at 7:55 am #

      Thanks for appreciating my layout btw. 😀

  3. kitsatwork June 20, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    “The design draws you in. The content gets you hooked. The communication overkills it.” I LOVE IT! Just like Sir Chong’s AIDA. The design gets a person’s Attention. The content stirs up Interest. And ideally, the communication creates the Desire (or dare I say, the addiction, but that doesn’t start with the letter D so). Now the Action part, I think is left to the reader or internet-user. What do you think? :))

    • Gel June 21, 2010 at 7:51 am #

      Agrees agrees! The Action part is a double-sided kind of thing. Either you get addicted (a.k.a. waste lots of time in cyberspace) or maximize the technology’s potential. It depends mainly on how you battle, not the sword. 😉 Nice input! AIDA!

  4. athousandfootnotes June 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    Gel! Your site is so yummy! hehe. And your ideas, enticingly chewable. 🙂

    But there is one part I refuse to digest. Sorry. 😦
    You said, “It is the power of technology to communicate that makes the Internet human…”. I beg to disagree.

    I would like to know and understand your definition of “communication”. Of what it means to “communicate”, and for that matter, “genuinely communicate”. Because as far as my meaning of “communication” is concerned, technology, specifically the Internet, has robbed us of the ability to “genuinely communicate”.

    I would like to share my point on this. Genuine communication is an exclusive human gift. Something only human beings are capable of doing. Something only the human mind and heart–with the ability to understand, feel, and empathize– can achieve.

    Technology does not know how to understand and feel. It does not communicate the way human beings do. Technology is void of real empathy and emotions. And the Internet’s emoticons do not capture the ability to empathize and truthfully communicate. That is why the Internet is and will never be human.

    I have realized these things because of Ms Yoly Ong’s speech during the OrCom Conference. She stated how we lose part of our humanity–our ability to empathize–because of the Internet. And I absolutely agree with her. I have discussed why in the last part of my blog.

    But all these I say with all due respect to your views. I do not intend to render your statements false. I only want to express what I believe.

    Don’t worry. If my stand on the Internet’s humanity will change over time, you will be the first to know. And Gel, I’ll gladly and whole-heartedly chew and digest everything you have written here 🙂

    • Gel June 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

      Thanks for the very insightful comment, Anne! 🙂

      Sorry if I haven’t stated directly the context of what I’m trying to say. And thank you for pointing this out. You really digested my entry and I appreciate that! 😀 But what I am trying to point out is that technology is becoming more social than ever. Computers are no longer just search queries and hardcore codes. Now the internet is all about friends, instant messages, e-mails, video blogs, and blogs like this. We have tweet updates, status updates, everything updates!

      If I remember it correctly, Ms. Yolly Ong used the term “overcommunication” as a label for this trend. We are constantly trying to get a message across, and most of the time it has an impact on people (i.e. comments, likes, views). Though I agree that the impact may not be as strong and genuine as that of face-to-face (and I share the same opinion that it will never be), the message still brings out a reaction. We still get their point. A YM conversation with a friend may not be as energetic and wild as when you really are together hanging out (though this is not entirely true all the time), but we still have that familiar feeling of conversing with someone close to us, and that’s technology and communication in sync.

      And of course, being a fan of design and subtle messages, I still believe that technology provides us with an enjoyable journey everytime because of the graphics, the animation, and again, the cute buttons! Haha. They, too, communicate. We may not be aware of it always but they make communicating through the internet more open and personal.

      BUT, I agree with you Anne. You know that I do. 😉 Our offline social worlds sometimes suffer because of our online social networks. But there’s no turning back now. Technology’s here, and it’s communicating with us more than ever. We’ve got some major adapting to do but the human race is slowly becoming successful on this (I won’t elabore because I’m planning to post something about this HAHAHA). We just have to cross our fingers and wait. 😉

      Thanks again, Anne! >:D<

  5. athousandfootnotes July 3, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    Oh my! I think this is it—real learning. With three of your points Gel, I am realizing things and I am learning. And I am loving it! 🙂

    1. “Technology is becoming more social than ever. Computers are no longer just search queries and hardcore codes.”
    2. “The message still brings out a reaction. We still get their point.”
    3. “They make communicating through the internet more open and personal.”

    That’s it. The rationale of your statement—“It is the power of technology to communicate that makes the Internet human”—is technology’s capability to get a message across and bring out a reaction (And yes, it’s the basic tenet of communication). And on the Internet being human, you are referring to it being social, open, and personal. Chenen! I’ve finally set foot on the grounds of your argument. 🙂

    Regarding technology’s ability to communicate (to send message and generate feedback), I would have to say that yes, it does this function well. It provides a venue to practice a human activity, a human gift—communication. With this, I’d rather call technology a channel than a communicator. Nevertheless, we’ve established an agreement here—Technology facilitates human communication. 🙂

    Concerning the Internet’s humanness, I have to agree with you that it has indeed become open and personal. This is its way of becoming natural and human. Don’t you think so? With its open and social nature, the Internet brings out the naturalness of communication. It hands us an experience of conversations, an exchange of ideas, and a sharing of our worlds. And these very well represent what we humans do, who we humans are. 🙂

    Goodness! I never thought arguing, seeing from another person’s perspective, eventually understanding things and establishing a common ground can be this overwhelmingly good. 🙂 Yummy! Haha. Looks like I’m into having a regular intake of gel-o shots. Ahaha. Thanks Gel! 🙂

  6. barrycade July 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    the format is impeccable; very reader-friendly. the fluidity in the writing helps, too. i appreciate the emphasis on the communication part, though i wanted some more OrCom into it. 🙂

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