We may or may not get to jump in the proverbial DeLorean to hop around time … anytime soon, but we do experience a form of time travel every day using our mobile media devices. Most of us have the experience daily of being focused or grounded in more than one place at a time. If you have been in a text “conversation” at the same time a person next to you is talking to you, you have experienced what has been termed, "Multiplicity of Place” (K. Squire, 2009).
For many, the distractions inherent in smart phone use are cited as contributing to the degrading of our social interactions. What if this perceived negative attribute of mobile phone use was turned into a “feature” in our human conversations?
In higher education, we have seen the mobile phone, tablet and laptop become increasingly, though not completely, welcomed into the learning environment. College students use these devices to navigate their daily lives as well as many aspects of their studies. Finding a way to leverage how a smart phone or mobile device enables the user to process and participate in more than one information stream at a time is one key to effectively unlock their potential as powerful academic tools. How can it be helpful or beneficial then, to be in more than one place at a time?
Augmented Reality apps such as Aurasma give users the opportunity to blend the present view with a totally different perspective. Conversations that may have been impossible because of time or location are now enabled with FaceTime or Google Hangouts. Real time peer to peer review can take place with microblogging apps like Slack or Twitter at the same time as a local presentation. Brainstorming sessions that can plug into multiple streams of information at once help to expand the strategic use of mobile media technologies.
When we can be grounded in more than one conversation or information stream at a time, can we find a new way to be completely in each “place” or do we give each a lesser focus? Are there other strategic uses for this phenomenon that we experience daily? Is there another way to view or understandings of “here” and “now” that will help us take advantage the shaking up of time and space?
I am a technology detective looking for clues in the “crime” of the century - how the cell phone has and continues to “disrupt” our society. You can view my research so far at Going Mobile.
It is no longer a question of whether we should let these devices or tools play such a big role in our lives. In many ways they bring a convenience that is highly addictive. Now they are part of us, how do we become the tech stewards we need to be to balance the plusses and minuses of these high powered computers in our pockets?
Time travel and Multiplicity of Place have the potential to either make us more connected or less connected to each other. We must choose how to effectively navigate this change. If you have the time … or want to be in more than one place at time … let me know what you think about this.