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Mobile-phone culture: The Apparatgeist calls | The Economist

Mobile-phone culture

The Apparatgeist calls

Dec 30th 2009
From The Economist print edition

How you use your mobile phone has long reflected where you live. But the spirit of the machines may be wiping away cultural differences

Illustration by James Fryer

TECHNOLOGIES tend to be global, both by nature and by name. Say “television”, “computer” or “internet” anywhere and chances are you will be understood. But hand-held phones? For this ubiquitous technology, mankind suffers from a Tower of Babel syndrome. Under millions of Christmas trees North and South Americans have been unwrapping cell phones or celulares. Yet to Britons and Spaniards they are mobiles or móviles. Germans and Finns refer to them as Handys and kännykät, respectively, because they fit in your hand. The Chinese, too, make calls on a sho ji, or “hand machine”. And in Japan the term of art is keitai, which roughly means “something you can carry with you”.

This disjunction is revealing for an obj

Staggering growth, wide range of use

Posted via web from Ted’s Nothing but Net Explorations

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