Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

You May Be Reading This in the Bathroom, on Your Phone

Give Microsoft credit for this one: It’s ginned up a press release I have no choice but to pass along to you.

It’s designed to get me to mention today’s Windows Phone 7 launch (Katy Perry! Maroon 5!), and I’m totally fine with that. Because in return, Microsoft has provided us with a series of great statistics about “Bad Mobile Phone Behavior,” gleaned from a poll conducted by Harris Interactive.

If you like bathroom humor, you’ll enjoy these stats (via TechFlash):

  • 48 percent of adults think that it’s bad to talk on the phone in a public restroom.
  • 43 percent of adults think it’s not okay to text, email or Web surf in a public potty.
  • Which means, presumably, that the majority of adults think it’s just fine to talk, text and type away while you’re in the stalls.
  • Unless that means you drop your phone in the toilet, which 19 percent of adults 18-24 say they’ve done. (Me too, though I was well out of the demo by that point.)

Still reading? You can get the press release, which has a link to the survey itself (via a Word document–go figure) here. Oh. And here is that clever Windows Phone 7 Ad*.


*Here’s why these ads are really great, by the way. Not because they’re funny–they’re funny, but more grin funny than laugh funny. And not because they sell cell phones, because who knows? They’re great because they’re inadvertently but fundamentally honest about something uncomfortable: Many times, often times, in some cases all the time, we want to be distracted by our phones. We want them to take us away from the place we’re at or the person we’re with. No one wants to say this out loud, so Microsoft deals with it by pretending that we’re all dying to get back off our phones and into the real world. But we’re in on the joke, us and Microsoft, so we just nod and grin. Truth-telling = great ad.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald