A Hot Dog, A Soda And A...Cell Phone? - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
10/25/2005
01:52 PM
Tom Smith
Tom Smith
Commentary
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A Hot Dog, A Soda And A...Cell Phone?

I value the contributions information technology has made to our lives probably more than most people. I make my living on the Internet and spend the bulk of my time managing Web content and technology projects, and really enjoy working in this fast-evolving medium. Information technology -- in the form of a wirelessly enabled laptop computer and the omnipresent cell phone -- has permanently changed the lifestyle of my family, particularly as the computer's value as an educational tool increases

I value the contributions information technology has made to our lives probably more than most people. I make my living on the Internet and spend the bulk of my time managing Web content and technology projects, and really enjoy working in this fast-evolving medium. Information technology -- in the form of a wirelessly enabled laptop computer and the omnipresent cell phone -- has permanently changed the lifestyle of my family, particularly as the computer's value as an educational tool increases almost daily.But personally, I'm not at all close to the leading edge. I just got my first BlackBerry -- only to support a narrowly defined, though critical, business application. Watching the masses use their BlackBerries and Treos has merely been a curiosity for me, and I've never really felt the urge to join the trend, even less so now that BlackBerry Thumb has come to light. In fact, I'm starting to get a little uneasy about technology permeating everyday life, and wondering where it will all end. It seems a day never goes by that I don't have to tell my kids to shut off the computer, a testament to the addictive power of the Internet.

My concerns about technology's influence on our non-work lives grew stronger today, in response to this report on how Major League Baseball games will be coming to cellular phones and other mobile devices early next year through streaming video. For me, this story didn't elicit excitement or anticipation, but rather bewilderment at why someone would choose to watch a game on a tiny little screen -- at a cost no less -- when there are so many better options: live in the ballpark, at home in front of your TV, at a party, or in a bar with a group of friends. By the way, I'm not that keen on watching TV shows on an iPod, either.

It gets better -- or worse, depending on your perspective. Among other new developments, kids will also have the ability to send text messages from within a baseball stadium and see their edited messages on the jumbotron. I can only imagine the education/entertainment value the 40,000 people in attendance will derive from that wondrous application of text messaging.

What's the impact of all this dependence on technology? I fear it's teaching kids they can't enjoy simple things like a baseball game unless they have their PDA or cell phone in use the whole time. I think we run the risk of making it impossible for kids to ever learn how to focus on one thing -- like a baseball game -- because they can never leave their gadgets at home.

It's certainly a smart move for Major League Baseball to integrate its on-the-field product with mobile communications, text messaging and other technologies that have become such a central part of our lives. I just wonder whether this is another indicator that technology is taking over.

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