Tag Archives: smartphones

We’ll Be Watching You: #Android Apps ‘Turn Everyday Life into Truman Show 2.0’!


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Flunking the Test: India’s Education System ‘Under Societal Siege’!

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Urban Scrawl: Technology Overload ‘Killing Basic Classroom Skill’!

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Korea Team Exploding: Samsung Makes ‘World’s Most Expensive Smartphone’ By Accident!

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Is Technology Destroying Educational Spaces?

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 13.26.26One of the more interesting debates of recent times is whether or not smartphones – the increasingly ubiquitous devices that have embedded themselves into much of (post-)developed life within the last decade – are having a positive effect on public space. Advocates of trendy glowing rectangles maintain that reality isn’t reality unless it’s augmented: Googling South-East Asian restaurants on the fly, competing to become ‘mayor’ of a local shared office space and Citymapping the optimal path from A to B is the new-and-improved Über-normal.

Those arguing from another perspective point out that urban areas which were already starkly deficient in social capital have been enslaved by screens to a degree that first degree murder on public transportation – let alone other, less obtrusive crimes – can pass unnoticed until the point of execution. Indeed, the degree to which anyone can be said to be truly present when they are consulting (or even in possession of) a smartphone is a highly contentious subject given that viewing a smartphone display can reduce the effective field of vision by around 80%.

However, this vital debate does not seem to have penetrated the education sector, which – notwithstanding its generally privileged access to new technologies – is remarkably sluggish when it comes to figuring out how to respond to them, let alone what projects involving these should be actively pursued. Beyond banning electronic devices in exams – and depending on the jurisdiction and level of education, in lessons – educators seem content to allow technology to define the rules and praxis of their institutions, including communal spaces.

Universities in particular can be accused of almost entirely missing many of the most important consequences of technological penetration. The basic connections that students may potentially make with each other in social settings are profoundly impacted upon by communications advances of the twenty-first century. But the higher education institutions that are even thinking about these issues – which are already seriously affecting the networking and knowledge transmission activities that the more visionary universities regard as their unique selling point – can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. Concrete, well-thought-out policies are virtually non-existent. And while this remains the default position, no educator who cares about the long-term future of their institution should be sleeping well.

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Korea Team Dying: Smartphone App Aims to End Suicide Epidemic!


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Dutch Courage: Three Reasons Why Amsterdam’s Fairphone is a Standout Company

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While we at Mediolana have extensively documented how global society is in thrall to all things mobile and telephonic, as a company we find it hard to get excited by the actual processes that go into making smartphones: it is more than a little dispiriting to reflect on the fact that a device which helps define one’s life is more often than not enabled by murky resource wars and sub-slave labour.

However, recently this changed when our Creative Director & CSO – himself on the search for a new smartphone – stumbled across Fairphone, a social enterprise company headquartered in Amsterdam which produces self-styled ethical smartphones. Through respective agreements with suppliers and contractors in the Democratic Republic of Congo and China, Fairphone promises to deliver to consumers a handset free of conflict minerals and blood-stained factory walls. Fairphone have candidly stated that while it is not yet possible to produce a smartphone which is 100% ‘clean’, this is very much a key objective of the project.

In a world flooded with noble initiatives, Fairphone stands out for three key reasons:

  1. Spotting the Ethical Chasm. Fairphone have recognised that there is a vast ethical hole in the operations of most major smartphone manufacturers – not a small issue given the increasing global ubiquity of these devices. Acting on this observation clearly has the potential to strike a huge chord.
  2. Making it Sexy. Most social enterprises fail for a number of reasons, but chief amongst them is the lack of investment in design and branding. All too often, social enterprises rely on the push of goodwill while almost totally neglecting the pull of allure. Conversely, the Fairphone star logo is a genuinely good marque – rebellious for all the right reasons – which one can imagine actively wanting to be associated with.
  3. Making Small Plausible. While a surprising number of countries have their own successful smartphone brands – think Xiaomi in China, Casper in Turkey, Yotaphone of Russia – producing cutting-edge electronics is largely the preserve of corporate giants in service-dominated economies. But Fairphone has shown that a social enterprise in a smallish European territory can make its mark in a notoriously competitive sector: the tens of thousands of Fairphone 1.0 handsets have sold out, and 2.0 is in the pipeline.

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