The Present is Mobile, The Future Is Up For Grabs

I’ve had a bit of a ball reading and thinking about the various articles that I’ve read in the past weeks. For one reason or another, mobile’s impact has finally been acknowledged by mainstream/popular/USAmerican/etc. media and its kind of funny and all together sad. There’s this prevailing state of mind that mobile is still something to behold for the future and that we aren’t yet there. I disagree. Mobile is the present, and its the future of computing and those things computational that we are on the cusp on now.

How can I say such a thing? Speaking as a person who is still somewhat new to mobile (I’ve been living via PDA or mobile phone since Aug 2000), there are some certainities that I’ve noticed and have myself moved towards. For example, when I was in college, I used a PDA (usually a Palm model) for all of my work. I did everything from class notes to class distractions on a non-connected, color calculator. And today, such actions are considered normal. I’m typing this on my N97 with a wireless keyboard. Give it a few more years and the action of blogging first on a mobile will be mainstream enough to take news companies off their chairs towards doing better reporting.

In other words, there’s nothing really new happening right now other than the realization that mobile living is possible. Yes, there are compromises, long tails, network effects, environmental, political, and social effects to consider. But that’s what you deal with when a paradigm has come and changed things, not before.

As I read Engadget’s perspectives on the recently announced Microsoft Kin devices, I kept noticing how these people who are supposed to be at the front of understanding the disruption and paradigm shift of mobile were confused. It was as if they were senior editors at the Times/Post looking at Engadget when it first came online, wondering how this fit within their mindset of news dissemenation. Of course, we don’t have that question about Engadget now, and I’m sure that the Kin will soon do the same for mobiles. That’s not to say that they don’t have a point – there are things (apparently) missing from the Kin that just don’t seem right. They are missing, and it is right. The paradigm shift is connection, not information management, as the bread and butter.

Just wait, you’ll get it too…

Which leads me back to the title of this piece – mobile is the present and the future is up for grabs. If you needed it said another way, Google (nearly) said it nicely: if you aren’t thinking mobile first, then you are missing where your employees and customers want to bring business to you. There shouldn’t be questions in 2010 about “how do I do this on my mobile,” or “where is this SMS/mobile web-enabled service?” These things should be taken care of. We – especially those of us who sit with some modicum of mobile insight – need to be pointing to what’s next.

What that means is mobile should be as natural to your thinking and execution as email, websites, and stamps. How you connect all of those in a value-enhancing wrapper for the world to come is something that lies at the next intersection of life and innovation.

Writing as Right

If there’s anything that I can say about things that have happened recently, its that its opened some more time to write. And I see this as a good thing. I see that part of the reason for the items I’ve come across has been because of writing, and in some resolutions of problems, I’ve been able to also see that through writing.

That’s all well and good personally – professionally, there’s a missing container of accountability when it comes to writing things do. I think its in part because people still see the need of things written to always have to occupy the mental model of a pen/ink and paper. I’m not as constrained to that mental model and therefore can find writing of any kind to be well received, and even productive, when its a matter of simply being put into a domain that has an author and a time-stamp.

Writing means also that time is capured through someone’s eyes and it may not be the time capture that you want, but it is the one that exists for that moment. If we could deny ourselves the right to have some opinion over someone elses view of time as being less important than our own, then I think writing becomes less a struggle of older mental models, and more a blessing of the communication that can and should happen.

Of course, we could all just re-learn to become proficient in speaking and writing and call it done no matter where we stand towards writing – but that too might be asking and presuming that others care as I do to write down those things that are important – with the ink being memory and the paper being our hearts.