Portability, Culture, and Mobile Technology

I commute on a train to work every weekday, and it's often a festival of portable devices.  I often have my DS or my laptop.  I see plenty of Smartphones, iPads, and of course other laptops and notebooks.  There's the usual gaming devices (though it seems like most of the gaming I see is on phones and tablets as of late).

In my household, most everyone has laptops  – and among my friends laptops are becoming more common over time.  Netbooks are popular among many people I know, low-cost and portable.

It doesn't matter if it's work or if it's personal, portable is where it's at for geeks and progeeks.

Of course this shift is important for those of us working in the geekonomy – be it programmers, media creators, and more.  We're going to need to manage projects for iPad distribution, we're going to program for netbook-level profiles, we're going to have to make sure our comics fit on the Smartphones.

However this is more than a technical shift (how much of this portable technology isn't exactly new?).  We're seeing a cultural shift.

Simply, people are used to portability and see it's benefits.  Portable has validated itself in fun devices, useful computers, and new ways to get media.  Portable has shown people the convenience of having their technology everywhere.

For those of us working with portable technology (which is probably more of us than we realize) we'll need to remember it's not the technology – its cultural.  The idea of portability, convenience, and the ways portable technology lets us access data are part of our culture, our way of thinking, our ways of working.

Remember we progeeks not designing for technology – we're designing for people's expectations – for culture.  We've got a bundle of expectations and needs that happen to be met by a particular configuration of microchips and code and images.  But the cultural changes are what we have to work on.

– Steven Savage