Rheingold coined the term smart mobs to describe a group of intelligent individuals who are using technology to build their social networks. Technology is evolving in a way that is allowing these individuals to build such networks. Reingold first experienced this new phenomenon in Shibuya, Tokyo. He noticed that teenagers were heavily immersed in a practice called texting, using their "keitai (mobile telephone)" to send short messages to other keitai users. He was so intrigued by this practice that he decided to further study this phenomenon.

Texting is a popular practice among teens in Tokyo. Some clothing provide special pockets specifically for keitai. Teens who text have been given the nickname "thumb tribes" because texting requires use of the thumb to punch characters into their keitai and these teens have mastered the strategy. Some are able to punch characters without looking at their keitai. One of Rheingold's interviewees claimed that she sends over 80 text messages per day.

Why is texting so popular in Japan? Mizuko Ito, an anthropologist who has studied Tokyo's youth use of keitai, argued that mobile phones gave youth a privacy that is hard to achieve while living at home with parents and other relatives. Unlike the home phone, it is harder for parents to monitor their "children's relationships." These children can have relationships with individuals and their parents may never know. Texting is popularly used to set up social gatherings and to share other information with peers who share a common interest. Rheingold argued that "texting made it possible for young people to conduct conversations that can't be overheard."

Although texting is popular in Japan, it actually emerged in Finland in 1995. According to Rheingold, "by 2000, Finns were exchanging more than a billion text messages annually." Therefore, this phenomenon is also popular in other parts of the world.

Why isn't texting as popular among Americans? Rheingold argued that one reason is that carriers do not allow the sending of text messages to people who do not subscribe to the same carrier. This is no longer the case, however. One of the more important reasons he mentions is the cost to send messages is higher in the United States. He also argued that Americans tend to have more privacy because of the larger amounts of space they may have in their home. Japenese youth, on the other hand, usually do not have as much space. However, texting does seems to be popular among hip-hop fans who use two-way pagers and young professionals who "favor the Blackberry wireless pagers."

Overall, Rheingold's assessment of smart mobs and the evolution of technology is insightful. Chapter one was particularly interesting because it discussed the trends in different parts of the world (Japan, Finland and the United States). Chapter two started strong with the explanation of the sociology aspect of technology. The explanation of common pool resources (CPRs) and how individuals work together to ensure these resources are not abused by "free loaders" was interesting. By the end of the chapter, however, I found myself wondering, "what is he talking about and how does this relate to technology?"

Some of Rheingold's arguments are consistent with those made by Dan Gillmor in We the Media, and John Battelle in The Search. All three authors argued that technology is changing the way we communicate and conduct business. Gillmor and Battelle specfically argued that more consumers are turning to the internet for news and other entertainment. Rheingold argued, "tomorrow's fortunes will be made by the businesses that find a way to profit from these changes, and yesterday's fortunes are already being lost by businesses that don't understand them." In this statement, Rheingold was referring to the evolution of technology.

Rheingold and Battelle also gave similar examples of where they believe technology is heading. Rheingold argued that technology will make it possible to "point at a book in a store and see what the Times and your neighborhood reading group have to say about it." Battelle predicted that an individual will be able to go to a store such as Whole Foods and compare their price of a bottle of wine to their nearest competitor by using a smartphone to scan the barcode.

It was particularly interesting to see how instant messaging (IM) is as popular among Americans as text messaging is with the Japanese. I believe that this phenonmenon can be attributed to the fact that it is less expensive to use than text messaging. With the price of PCs going down, more Americans are able to afford having computers at home and are likely to have internet service. Downloading an IM service is free and it doesn't cost to send messages to other individuals with a compatible IM service. With text messaging, on the otherhand, the individual usually has to pay for each message.

Carriers are beginning to offer plans that include a certain amount of text messages for a certain rate. For example, Sprint offers unlimited text messaging for $15 a month. This may not seem like much, but this is a cost on top of whatever the individual is paying for their minutes to talk. Therefore, even with text messaging packages, instant messaging is still cheaper. It will be interesting to see if text messaging will increase in popularity as the price for mobile devices are going down and more companies are offering packages for text messaging. I sent over 600 text messages this month. In January, I sent less than 20. This can be attributed to the fact that I just purchased a smartphone that makes texting easier and also purchased an unlimited plan. Of my friends who text frequently, most of them also use smart devices. I think that this is a phenomenon that is catching on with younger Americans.

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