Monday, May 4, 2009

T9 word

I met a guy yesterday who sends 4500 texts (min.) in a month. I shook his free hand after the church service. In between the words 'hello' and 'what is your name?' he'd fired off two messages. His thumbs rival his lips.

To his credit, he did a fine job multi-tasking. He carried on a conversation with me while digitally transmitting to a remote audience some miles away. Later we went to lunch, a group of nine, and the young man simultaneously spoke with me, the group, and Cha Cha--a mobile search engine.

To author 4500 texts (min.) in month, one would have to average 150 texts in a day. If the average message is 30 characters, then, including SEND and any punctuation, the person, would likely exercise 1000 thumb presses a day. Orthopedic companies would be wise to develop replaceable thumbs for Generation TXT.

Perhaps 4500 is an extreme case. The record, I've read, was over 14,000 in a month; the average looms closer to 2000. Regardless, this prevalent and rather nascent form of communication requires a special skill set, which may eventually cost more than our thumbs.

First, predictive text, called T9 word. What would Isaac Asimov say about a phone that knows what I want to write before I write it?

Second, disjointedness. One must juggle several conversations, both personal and mobile. But do I really want to compete with the IN network?

Third, immediacy. Yesterday we waited, anxious and agitated, while Cha Cha took two whole minutes to respond. Is this why we could not discuss any single topic for more than 90 seconds?

I'd be interested in having a deeper conversation on the subject, but I can predict how it would immediately stray from the topic. So instead, I'll read a book.


willtolive said...

I was laughing most of the post...!

willtolive said...

It reminded me of that kid, can't remember his name, when we were at Grater's and he just kept going, going, going, and you and I were laughing which seemed to egg him on more. Guilty: yes! Funny: hell yes!

Guess no phone was needed in that circumstance.