Thursday, December 28, 2006

Left Behind in the Digital Age: E-enabled Season's Greetings

Okay, I'm not technically unsavvy. I know what a Blackberry is (you couldn't PAY me to carry one, there is such a thing as too available), I've managed many application development projects, I've heard of VB, .net, ASP, C#, C++, you know... But I live in world where electronic holiday greetings come in the form of cards sent via Blue Mountain or a newsletter put in .pdf format and e-mailed. Boy has this year been eye-opening! About 5 years ago, we visited Jordan and realized the stark difference in the adoption of technology related to mobile phones. At that time in the US, most people had cell phones, but few used them to send text messages. They were really an extension of the home phone/work phone concept. In fact, American carriers built price structures around this attitude (perhaps creating it), charging you for all airtime (calls made and received) and putting together "minutes" packages. I was struck by the use of mobiles for sending messages. Seeing young people's fingers flying as the they pressed the keys without looking was an art form. And then, we went back to the US and I forgot how much this had impressed me.

Five years down the line, here I am living in Jordan and what do I receive? On Christmas Day, I received three or four SMS (text) messages from friends and colleagues saying Merry Christmas. That's right, the Christmas card is dead, replaced by the... Christmas SMS? No longer do I have to take the time to carefully select a card that represents my feelings, I can just type in a short Merry Christmas message and select all of the people to whom I'd like to send it. Click, click and across town, maybe across the country, people's cell phones, ding, ring, and buzz to let them know an SMS has been received. And the beauty of this? They don't even pay to receive the message. And I pay almost nothing to send it. Now, for the colleagues who sent their SMS' at midnight, shame on you! I guess they assume everyone turns their phones onto silent at night. But for the rest of you, thanks for introducing me to Christmas in cyberspace. Now it's my turn to get together a message to say Happy Eid to my Muslim colleagues. You know, I really like it here!

Happy SMSing!


At 9:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

They don't assume you've turned your phone on silent, they assume you're still awake. You were sleeping at midnight on Christmas eve? That's like sleeping at midnight on New Years. (You may want to turn your phone on silent if you choose to sleep early on New Years eve...)

At 12:10 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Ah, well the guy I teased about it at the office said he assumed it was on silent. As a point of fact, I was indeed NOT asleep, but imagine, I could have been! We actually had recently gotten home from church, but I was amazed by the number of people who sent midnight messages.


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