Posts Tagged ‘interaction


Here’s to all the meeple out there

Face to face interaction with your friends is a thing of the past, especially for the younger generations. Recently I sat in on a conversation (I use this term loosely) between my younger brother and his friends.


If my memory serves me correctly I think that in the 20 minutes or so that I was sitting there, they must have said about ten words to each other. They were all glued to their cell phones, sitting on either Facebook or Mxit, talking to each other via these social networking mediums.

Social networking on mobile phones has taken off. This is confirmed by Vodacom recently launching not one, but two personal networking services, TheGRID and Meep. MTN also has a service similar to Meep called NokNok.

Meepis a form of real time communication where you can chat with either one or more ‘meeple.’ Meep can be accessed through your phone or your computer, and is available to other network users.

TheGRID is a location based social networking space. You are able to find friends on a map and then chat to them. This is done by using the networking positioning system that maps the location of your cell phone. What is great about TheGRID is that not only can you see exactly where your friends are; people can also leave little virtual notes or ‘blogs’ to share their experience at a certain location with others.

These new developments are great for the mobile world and certainly won’t do Vodacom’s finances any harm, but the radical change in social interaction is slightly worrying. With some effort I could brush off my brother and his friends’ actions, but after a little more eavesdropping I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Mark, one of the boys, was talking about his girlfriend (again I use this term loosely), whom he has actually never seen. The pair have been communicating entirely through Facebook and Mxit after being ‘hooked up’ by a mutual friend. Apparently no one else saw this as much of a problem and I was told in no uncertain terms that the great meet would definitely happen soon.

While pondering this particular blog post I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not our future generation is going to have any social skills whatsoever. You know those skills? The ones that clinch that great job for you, makes sure that you have an awesome group of friends, nail that big ass company merger that is sure to get you a raise or a promotion. Yup those ones. Essential, that is what they are.

The question is where to from here? How do you ensure that a generation will be able to speak to each other properly? There is no way that we can ever change the way that they have been brought up and with the recent surge of technological advancements it doesn’t look like much is going to be changing anytime soon. All you have to do is Google the term ‘social network’ and you immediately get sites like the  ‘10 most beautiful social networks’ and lists of the most popular social networks. These are all available on your mobile phone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, even on public holidays.

It is always there. If you are bored at home, sick in bed or on your lunch break, you can always contact those that are nearest and dearest using tools like Mxit. Event the Cape Town loadshedding schedule is available on Mxit. So it’s quick, convenient, easy to use and cheap. But we need to ask ourselves are all these benefits worth having a generation that can’t communicate without a cell phone in their hands?


hyped up

There’s hype, there’s pomp and ceremony, there’s excitement and there’s anticipation. So much is happening around mobile media and so many people are talking about it that often we tend to lose sight of why exactly mobile media is so popular. There are advantages about mobile media that immediately catapult it to the forefront of media innovation.


Mobile media has leapfrogged traditional media forms at an alarming rate. To date there are 3.25 billion mobile users globally which is more than television, computer and cinema screens combined. While this is an impressive stat what is even more impressive is that it took 20 years to get the first 1 billion mobile users, 40 months to get to 2 billion users and only 12 months to reach 3 billion users. A phenomenal feat, but the question is why?


It comes down to the fact that mobile media is personal. You carry your cell phone on you at all times, I even sleep with my phone under my pillow! You do not share your phone with anyone so you can create, produce, and consume content at any time that is convenient for you. You no longer have to walk down the street to pick up the daily newspaper and then only read the sports page. You can subscribe to the sports feed and get regular updates. It’s news on the move, which caters to whatever you are interested in. Mobile media is all about the niche markets. Mobile has the ability to fragment the masses into smaller groups. But at the same time is able to network that mass.  


Mobile media also offers a very easy interactive platform. You can Facebook, twitter and blog off your mobile phone. There is immediate contact with others, which is available to you whenever you want to interact.


One of the most alluring characteristics about mobile media is that there is a built in payment mechanism. You do not have to worry about having cash on you or electronically transferring anything. If you want a particular ringtone, you go to an appropriate website and then you download it. Payment happens immediately, as the money is deducted from your pre-paid account or your contract.


Mobile media looks like it is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future, but instead of simply adopting a mass medium strategy, what is unique, and popular, about mobile media is that it is personal and it caters specifically to your tastes, something which traditional mass media does not do.


Want to check out more about this? Look at Inspector Gadget’s post ‘A whiff of the modern cellphone‘