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We stand so close together, but we are so far apart | by Ed Yourdon
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We stand so close together, but we are so far apart

This was taken on the southwest corner of Broadway and 96th Street. I was concentrating on the woman in black, because I thought the combination of colors in her outfit was interesting. It was only after I uploaded the photograph, and cropped out the distracting elements in the picture, that I realized the significance of what I was left with ...

 

Note: this photo was published as an illustration in a Jul 2009 Squidoo blog titled "Buying Cell Phones on Ebay." It was also published in an undated (September 2009) blog titled "We're all Gadget Geeks Now!." And it was published as an illustration in an Oct 2009 Squidoo blog titled "Samsung Omnia Review." It was also published in a Nov 5, 2009 Atlantic Monthly blog titled "What's Wrong With Your Cell Phone Company." And it was published in a Nov 25, 2009 blog titled "Tips for Buying Cell Phone."

 

Moving into 2010, the photo was published in a May 28, 2010 Technologeek blog, with the same title as the caption that I used on this Flickr page. And it was published in a Jun 4,2010 Popwuping(?) blog titled "Cell Phone Culture."

 

Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a Jan 30, 2011 blog titled "Cell Phone Look Up Directory – How To Trace a Cell Phone Number Comfortably From Home." It was also published in a May 31, 2011 blog titled "So Your Cell Phone Causes Cancer ... Now What?"

 

Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a Mar 7, 2012 blog titled "PayPal México ve el futuro en los cellars." It was also published in a Jul 16, 2012 blog titled "Research: smartphone and tablet users act on clicked ads." And it was published in an Aug 3, 2012 blog titled "1152 個美國人邊走邊玩手機,最後也走進了急診室." It was also published in an Aug 24, 2012 blog titled "'Wall Street Journal' Offers Free Wi-Fi in NYC, San Francisco.." And it was published in an Oct 17, 2012 blog titled "One Nation, Under Surveillance." Also, a severely cropped version of the photo was published in a Nov 13, 2012 blog titled "Oslo-polisen frestar ficktjuvar med falsk Iphone 5."

 

More recently, I found that the photo was published in an Aug 11, 2012 blog titled "Er det ikke best å utvikle apps til iOS først?"

 

Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Jan 11, 2013 blog titled "Slow Thinking in a Fast World." And it was published in an undated (mid-Feb 2013) blog titled "How Long Should Your Phone Number Be?" And it was published in a Feb 15, 2013 blog titled "Stay local! magazine." It was also published in a Mar 2, 2013 blog titled "Can the Human Race Survive the Negative Side of Social Media?" And it was published in a Mar 19, 2013 blog titled "Could Your Smartphone Be Hacked?" It was also published in a Mar 31, 2013 blog titled "Baterías, la asignatura pendiente de los dispositivos electrónicos." A tightly cropped version of the photo was also published in a May 1, 2013 blog titled "#21 PITTSBURGH CITY ALERT: A MOBILE APP TO KEEP YOU CONNECTED." And the photo was published in a May 8, 2013 blog titled "What Phone Companies Are Doing With All That Data From Your Phone" It was, as well as a May 25, 2013 blog similarly titled "Smithsonian: What Phone Companies Are Doing With All That Data From Your Phone." It was also published in a May 16, 2013 blog titled "IDC: Android OEMs Shipped 162M Smartphones In Q1, More Than 4X Apple’s Rate; Windows Phone Now In (Distant) Third." And it was published in a Jun 21, 2013 blog titled "When Big Data Really Means Small Data." It was also published in a Jul 3, 2013 blog titled "Mobile Data Traffic To Grow 300% Globally By 2017 Led By Video, Web Use, Says Strategy Analytics," as well as a Jul 25, 2013 blog titled "ADICTOS A LAS NUEVAS TECNOLOGÍAS." It was also published in an Aug 16, 2013 blog titled "Student Housing: What’s really important to today’s college renter."

 

Moving into 2014, the photo was published in a Mar 11, 2014 Washington Post blog titled These 2,500 experts predicted the future of the Web. It looks a lot like the present." It was also published in a Jun 18, 2014 Washington Post article titled "The ACLU’s latest lawsuit on warrantless cellphone tracking has hit a dead end." And it was published in an Aug 30, 2014 blog titled "How Technology is Compromising the Human Condition."

 

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Looking back on some old photos from 40-50 years ago, I was struck by how visible the differences were between the culture of then, versus the culture of now. In some cases, it was evident from the things people wore, or carried, or did, back then which they no longer do today. But sometimes it was the opposite: things that didn't exist back in the 1960s and 1970s have become a pervasive part of today's culture.

 

A good example is the cellphone: 20 years ago, it simply didn't exist. Even ten years ago, it was a relatively uncommon sight, and was seen usually only on major streets of big cities. Today, of course, cell phones are everywhere, and everyone is using them in a variety of cultural contexts.

 

However, I don't think this is a permanent phenomenon; after all, if you think back to the early 1980s, you probably would have seen a lot of people carrying Sony Walkmans, or "boom-box" portable radios -- all of which have disappeared...

 

If Moore's Law (which basically says that computers double in power every 18 months) holds up for another decade, then we'll have computerized gadgets approximately 100 times smaller, faster, cheaper, and better -- which means far better integration of music, camera, messaging, and phone, but also the possibility of the devices being so tiny that they're embedded into our eyeglasses, our earrings, or a tattoo on our forehead.

 

So the point of this album is to provide a frame of reference -- so that we can (hopefully) look back 10-20 years from now, and say, "Wasn't it really weird that we behaved in such bizarre ways while we interacted with those primitive devices?"

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Taken on July 24, 2009