Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mobile Phones and Open Source

After reading Howard Rheingold’s article, I am interested in what a marriage of mobile phones and open source technology might mean for the cooperation amplifier. In his closing he asks, “Over the next few years, will nascent smart mobs be neutralized into passive, if mobile, consumers of another centrally controlled mass medium? Or will an innovation commons flourish?” (214). The iPhone is a step in the latter’s direction, allowing us to glimpse the power of customization through software, but without letting us to hack away to our own advantage. At the moment, iPhone users are little more than the cell phone users Rheingold describes only with a more coveted interface. But even as a closed system, the iPhone still presents easier access to language games through the manipulation of code in its move away from hardware to software. If anything, the iPhone has prepared us for the announcement of Google’s open source mobile platform, and the potential it has to lead to the development of a mobile phone free from the control of traditional carriers. Moreover, there are rumors that Google is poised to make a bid on the 700MHz spectrum, which would essentially allow free wi-fi access to mobile devices across the country. What might a continuous mobile connection to the Internet change the way in which we relate to this space?

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