mobile information access

“The explosion in the number of mobile phones with the capacity to access the Internet will enable millions of people in developing nations who cannot afford computers to go online for the first time.” (Berners-Lee, 2009)
Around July 2009 more than 50% of the world’s population owned a cell phone while in 2000 these were just 12%. Each year nowadays more than 1 billion mobile phones are sold: in 2008 it were more than 1.2 billion. I think four trends as interesting, which can be identified in association with the fast development and deployment of mobile phone technology on a global level:

  • Information can be accessed not only in city centres but much more important in rural areas. Especially in remote areas this will have an immediate impact on business processes, life-long learning, and everyday living. Examples are health education on HIV, information about food distribution, social support against discrimination, election monitoring by instant messaging, collective news reporting, finding jobs through SMS marketplaces, or accessing market prices for goods (Mobile Active Consortium, 2009).
  • The available information will grow even more rapidly as more people will have access to it and generate metadata and data. Mobile devices combine properties of other media as text, voice, audio, and video with geo-location and they are affordable to low and middle level income citizens. This basically means that with low cost end user devices information can be easily collected and distributed based on existing networking infrastructures.
  • Mobile devices will make intensive use of sensor technology and therefore become more context-aware. The information received and created on mobile devices can be analysed in the context of this sensor data. This issue is highly related to current discussions on privacy of information and tracking of users in real world and information space.
  • New user interfaces will synchronise multiple information channels available on infrastructural and mobile terminals. A desktop metaphor does not hold for a mobile information access in which we move away from our physical desktop. Steven Feiner already in 1999 describes the relevant issues in user interface design when we work and live in an environment where several displays can be used for personal and shared information (Feiner, 1999). Sensor-based user interfaces will lead to a complete redesign of the user interface in the next decade.
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