Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

It’s a So-Lo-Mo World, After All

Let it be said: For a digital information junkie such as myself, traveling abroad without any cellular or consistent Internet connection on my spanking new white Apple iPhone is agonizing.

To explain: I switched from AT&T to Verizon recently, in order to actually be able to make voice calls with regularity in San Francisco.

Unfortunately, Verizon does not go international. And, although I am carrying another local feature phone for calls, I am without the rich multimedia mobile experience that I usually get day to day at home.

Worse still, an “unlocked” iPhone only went on sale in the U.S. — which would allow me to use a SIM card bought in Europe –Tuesday, after I left.

Poor little me, I suppose, and there is certainly no need to cry any big, fat digital tears on my behalf.

Still, without the constant certainty of a Wi-Fi connection as I move around, it’s disconcerting for someone whose life has been jacked into the matrix 24-7-365 for far too long to be without consistent digital interconnections.

More to the point — as I watch endless legions of Europeans, who seem even more entranced by and stranded on their individual smartphone islands than in the U.S., obsessively checking out their devices every second — the concept of being completely out of touch with the pulse of the world while in the world is an odd one.

Or, at least the Twitter-fied world, in which I get short bursts of all kinds of information all the time. It takes the lack to understand what it means to be always checking in.

This is a big dose of the obvious, of course, but it was brought home to me in a can’t-miss piece in The Daily, published yesterday by the iPad news service and available here.

Titled “Speed Journalism,” it’s a succinct but important discussion on the push and pull between the ephemera of information we are increasingly getting from real-time Internet sources such as Twitter and the need for longer and more reflective pieces.

Wrote Trevor Butterworth: “The question is whether technology is diminishing our appetite or capacity for this kind of storytelling.”

This is not a new revelation, of course, but it bears repeating and considering again and again as we increasingly use these myriad social-local-mobile — so-lo-mo — devices.

And, as this so-lo-mo way of the encountering the world grows, it creates deep expectations of ever more detailed and immediate information about the world around you that is mostly immediately consumable and highly useful.

Whether this is a good thing or a bad one, I cannot tell yet, except to say that the last time I was here in Copenhagen, I was just 18 years old and I mostly wandered around in circles with an outdated guide book and without a clue.

As it turns out, without my super-duper-smart mobile phone being super-duper smart, very little seems to have changed.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus