What a Difference Two Years Makes


Sooo, Clay Shirky just gave a somewhat myopic and completely vacuous talk about Phone as the Platform here at ETech (ostensibly taken from classroom experience) and I thought I would wade in with a few disparaging comments to vent my frustration.

First, it's quite amusing the turn around that Clay has made since his post two years ago about WiFi vs 3G. Suddenly the ubiquity, usability and versatility of mobile phones is a compelling platform and not something to be dismissed as closed and essentially redundant as he originally wrote. (Us Mobitopians responded to his nonsense back then and I still remember it clearly.) Back then Clay summed up the opportunities for 3G (and mobile data access in general) as being only useful "on an airplane," as that was the only place you could possibly be away from WiFi for any reasonable amount of time. Now it seems that Clay believes the mobile phone is actually an interesting platform (really?), and even though GPS doesn't work quite right, he seems amazed how useful the phone is at actually making phone calls. Ha. ha. ha.

Honestly, my jaw was just gaping during the entire presentation and Elle kept elbowing me every time I snorted out loud. I mean, come on. It's 2005 already, I was amazed he was giving this clueless of a talk at ETech of all places. Where's the clue stick when you need it?

Hey, opinions can change. I'd just like to see a "mea culpa" before launching into a talk which contradicts much of your previous stances. But even if I could pardon the well-founded enthusiasm for a topic that's so near and dear to me, the things left out of this presentation were astounding. The state of the market and mobile industry is way beyond what he was talking about, I mean Dodgeball and PacManhatten? Are you kidding me? There are billion dollar businesses being built in the mobile industry right now and these aren't two of them. I mean, really, the phone has been a platform for a while now, I hate to be the one to break that news.

I would have liked to have seen more information about *real* research in the classroom - like some of the presentations we've seen at Mobile Monday from Marc Davis at Berkeley, aggregating and organizing user generated content to provide meta data for example. There was no mention of the multimedia capabilities of the phone. Clay held up his Treo (urgh) but mentioned the Nokia 6630 because it ran Python, but didn't seem to mention all the *other* phones that platform runs on or talk about the fact the 6630 takes video, great pictures and is a 3G Phone. This is all incredibly important for the future of the phone as a platform, none of which seemed to be stressed in the talk.

The pace of this revolution is astonishing, I know. But since many of us have been talking about this stuff for years, there's not much excuse for the "thought leaders" in this space not to be caught up to *at least* the present, let alone the future.

Whew. Now that that's off my chest, the rest of the presentations I've seen have been great by the way, and of course the attendees are all awesome. I wonder if I'll get mugged by Clay later?



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