Hi, I'm Dave Mulder. This is my website, where I write about user experience and product design.

Originally Published: June 9, 2010

Mobile connectivity: a force of change that sneaks up on us

People are starting to notice the powerful impact that mobile devices have on individuals and society. I think that’s way cool.

What still surprises me, though, is how often mobile’s real impact sneaks up on us. Everyone laughs at the jokes about folks tapping away at summer blockbusters and commuters texting in rush hour traffic, but very few people talk about how ubiquitous connectivity allows mobile users to achieve unprecedented experiences in identity.

You might be waiting in line to order a mocha at your local flavor coffee shop, but in the same moment you may also be texting with co-workers, catching up with old friends on Facebook, updating your current location on foursquare, or immersed in the lives of everyone you follow on Twitter.

In a mobile world, physical environments and limitations melt away. They’re replaced by opportunities.

Mobile connectivity is powerful. We’ve only begun to scrape the surface of what we can do with these hunks of plastic, aluminum, and silicon.

What does the future have in store for us?

A few months ago, in a writing on the short term future of social media, I argued that social and mobile are destined to be married.

The absolute most important piece of technology in our lives will be the mobile device. More and more people will be picking up high-fidelity mobile devices, and with proper pricing stimulants these will tip into explosive growth. The personal media bubble will begin to become a social norm as fewer and fewer groups label the bubble as deviant behavior.

Much sooner than we think, mobile devices will be the pervasive digital connection between ourselves and our social network. Manufacturers and application developers who build social into the core of their vision will be BIG winners. Sure—entertainment, news, and information will be valuable—but they cannot compete with the genetically built-in human desire to connect with other people.

The great technological scholar Marshall McLuhan once wrote, “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.” Every time an innovation comes along, we can see how soundly this insight rings true. And somehow, we never see it coming..