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Phone In Your Pocket: Five Minutes of Fame

flickr foto

Phone Dude
available on flickr

On of 250 images that popped in my slide show

The closing sessions of the EDUCAUSE ELI conference was the New Media Consortium’s release of the 2006 Horizon Report on Emerging Technologies.

This was the second year I was on the advisory board, and this year we notched it up quite a bit by doing all of our collaboration on a wiki at MIT. This site will continue to be open so more resources can be added and more conversations can take place on issues about these horizon items.

The format for sharing these is the NMC’s famous “Five Minutes of Fame” format, where, no surprise, you get 5 minutes to present, and if you get over, you get “gonged” and must exit the stage. It’s quite a feat to condense a presentation into 5 minutes.

Each of us who was asked to present one of the Horizon items had free reign to present it as we wished. I was asked this year to do the segment on mobile technology “The Phones In Their Pockets.”

Rather than dolling up a PowerPoint, I decided instead to just run a background slide show of images, about 250 I culled from flickr and elsewhere. Quite a few were from a user who takes hundreds of photos of people in public places using cell phones. I loaded these into iPhoto, and ran a full screen slide show with a 1 second transition.

I was rushed and ended up grabbing alot that are not re-publishable, but you can get a good sense of ones I used from a flickr slide show of “interesting” images tagged with cellphone.

But I rigged up a gimmick, to be interrupted about a minute in by a phone call. This was my script:

[Run iPhoto slide show in background]

This Old Phone
It was kind of embaraassing that Larry Johnson asked me to do this segment, since I am a cell phone “immigrant”. Until last June, I was using of those grey screen Nokia bricks— all it could was make phone calls.

Does anyone remember how futuristic the Star Trek communicators were? Kirk would just flip open the metal cover (wow… a flip phone) and have instant communication with the Enterprise. All it did was voice! How lame. He needed Spock to lug around that bulky Tricorder. Today’s phones go far beyond both in functionality and power.

=============== interruption =============

[Phone rings loudly]

Oh, I am sorry. This is emabarrassing. [looks at number] I’m afraid I have to take this call.

it’s me?

Yes, but I’m kind of busy right now… I have less 5 minutes!

What? it Failed? The whole interactive portion is down? Oh crap.

Are you in the server room?

Okay, here’s what to do. Find the router box. They all have names and Pooh stickers. No, not Piglet. No…. Eyeore is that Windows box HR uses for some ancient Access database. Yeah, Tigger, that’s the box. Pull up the activity monitor. Grab a Bluetooth screen cast with your phone and zap it over to me. While you’re doing that, I’m SSH-ing by SMS to see if I can free some cycles without bringing down the whole system.

I’m looking at the video. Yeah, we’ve got 5 database processes is in the red. My over-ride will only hold for maybe 20 minutes. Here’s what to do. Send the status video to Ronit. Yeah, she’s our new wizard, a genius. Just in case she has to come down tonight, phone her the server room map and geotag the location of the server.

Text me back with a status. Ok?

Yeah, I’m phone recording the speech. It’s an okay audience, kind of quiet. Polite.

Thanks again…. Mom.

And phone me some more video of your ballroom dancing class. I think you’re leading too much with your left foot.


There is no need to prove anything about the ubiquity of mobile phones, just look around, anywhere you go in public.

Importance shown in these photos.

People love their phones, they not only take pcitures with them, they take pictures of them.

And look at the importance of personalization- not just ring tones, but wall paper screens, decoaration and plastic skins. Phones can be extension of personality.

This is the true always on technology, soon to be always connected, and beyond that, maybe? maybe? always broadband

Modern phones have multifunction capability, computation, storage that 10 years ago was your desktop PC

Geolocation — it not only tells me map-related information, but my location tailors services for me

For education — not the richest set of examples we could put in report, but interesting things have already happened, so please help us and add some new thins (but hey, it is a wiki!) I bet this year someone will hack a clicker service using phones.

But do not think of these as just a computer in your hand. It’s not just for putting learning content on a phone- more than Blackboard on a phone. What do phones not do well? — accept a lot of text input (fast thumbs aside).

What can they do well? messaging, photos, media playback (ROCKR notwithstanding). Audio/video capture? Could it be podcast recorde/publisher? Data gathering. Field recorders. Checklists, PDA. Possible roles? registration? class clickers? Lab data? Audio enabled response systems. Translation.


Thanks to me helper for the call on cue.

This was a ton of fun, yet I still am a fumbler on the phone.

If this kind of stuff has any value, please support me monthly on Patreon or a one time PayPal kibble toss
Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. You’re on gray screen, I’m on no screen! I’m one of the very few in Hong Kong who does not have a cell phone. Still waiting for a decent all-in-one integrated device … coz my idea of the “all” in all-in-one keeps shifting! I think Hong Kong might still be No 1 for cellphones per population. Most of the students at my insitution have more than 1 and usually the latest, 3G right now with 2 megapix and up phone cameras.

  2. What Alan does not mention (with Alanesque modesty) is how he had the audience roaring with laughter and thorougly captivated by the end of his five minutes. If you missed this one, you missed something worth seeing!

  3. Bravo Alan! Oscar Nominations were announced whle you were doing this – I thought I heard an echo of “Alan Levine nominated in the category Performance by an Instructional Technologist in the leading role of Transforming Traditional Conference Preceedings” for his stellar performace at EDUCAUSE’ ELIs 5 Minutes of Fame!

    Can someone phone me the video from this performance? Maybe I can find it on LimeWire….do they have yet?

    Thanks for laughs and for always redefining Innovation!

  4. Thanks Jen.

    It was not video-ed. Someone may have recorded audio, EDUCAUSE is pretty good about that. I forgot to even consider recording with the iRiver (it was sitting in my bag).

    Thaqnks too Rachel.. This was nicely a low tech approach. I had a ‘presentation’ without one piece of text on the screen.

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