Sep 3, 2010 General Nonsense |
For historical reasons, the device in your pocket or purse - the one that you use to browse the Internet and send email, is called a "phone." We need a new name for that thing.

Cellphone and Smartphone are words that recognize the historical roots of the device while making things worse. "Mobile phone" is archaic. Those are some ugly words. And all of those labels have the problem of making the phone feature seem highest in importance while it trends less so every day. Ask a teen how often he makes phone calls on his texter.

I'm biased against the voice communication function of my so-called phone because I hate that particular feature. It's impossible to have a conversation by cellphone if any of the following conditions is true:

  1. An earpiece, headset, or speakerphone is used.
  2. One of you is in an area with bad reception.
  3. One of you has an iPhone.
  4. One of you has a heavy accent.
  5. One of you is insanely boring.
  6. One of you is near anything loud, such as traffic.
That covers just about every call I'm likely to get. I end half of my phone conversations by shouting "I...CAN'T...HEAR...YOU...SEND...ME...AN...EMAIL!!!"

"On top of that, people use the phone to ask me for uncomfortable favors or deliver bad news, whereas they use email to give me information I want or need. When my so-called phone rings, my first reaction is "Shit. What's wrong now?" When I get an email or text message, I feel a tingle of optimism.

Text and email are polite invitations to a conversation. They happen at the speed and leisure of both the sender and the receiver. In stark contrast, when you get a phone call, it's almost always a convenient time for the caller and a bad time for the recipient, who I refer to as the "victim" because I insist on accuracy. My philosophy is that every phone conversation has a loser.

Anyway, back to my point: We need a new name for your cellular phone. The new name should embrace all of your device's functions while favoring none. It should understand the future of the device and release on its history. The name should not be long or klunky or geeky, so forget about calling it a communicator.

My suggestion, which I offer simply to prime the pump, is to call the phone your "head." This term recognizes that you are essentially a cyborg with a detachable brain. You offload a lot of your memory into your device, and it helps you communicate and gather information, just like the other parts of your general skull area.

There isn't much chance of name confusion with the organic part of your head because the context will always be clear. If you say, "I can't find my head," or "Whose head is ringing?" each utterance has only one rational interpretation. Granted, there could be some confusion if a head is contemplated as a gift item, but that's a risk I'm willing to take.

There's a saying in this country: "You'd lose your head if it weren't screwed on." And now it isn't. Your head is partly on your shoulders and partly in your pocket or purse. And we often misplace it precisely because it isn't screwed on. I think the word "head" is perfect.

Try to top it. What is your suggestion for a new name?

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-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 29, 2010
Monkey Brain may be on to something: cellphones are obsolete. I use a landline (I gave up my cellphone after the 3 year contract expired and then had a contract where emergency calls were free but non-emergency calls were $2.50 a minute. $2.50 a minute. What is this? 1950? That's OK. I never received or made any calls. I also downloaded Google's telephony software and tried it, seeing as it's free for the mean time. It is, if anything, better than a landline to landline call. Why broadcast over the air? That's so Twentieth Century. My call to New Brunswick, Canada, was routed through Atlanta. There's a law that everything has to go through Atlanta, I think. Will there be cellphones in 2050? Probably not. It doesn't work if you clutter up the airwaves. Besides, it attracts evil alien overlords, or else the neighbors would have called us by now.
Sep 24, 2010

game, set, match
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 23, 2010
Observing your most recent strip theme, the product which is just a block of wood, I am wondering whether you are aware that such a product actually exists! In fact a whole range of them. They are called Mpingo disks. These are eye-wateringly expensive blocks of wood, which, if placed strategically upon your hi-fi equipment, magically makes it sound better. They have been around for quite a while, and if you Google "Mpingo disc" you will find not only their web site, but also many breathless 'reviews' of this product from respected mainstream publications such as Stereophile. Enjoy!....
Sep 19, 2010
My wife refers to her phone as her swap brain. When she uses it to lookup something, she's 'paging'


My objection to most/all phones is that we still have too many gadgets. I want refactor them.

A bluetooth earpiece mike is a good start. But if I'm listening to music, I want stereo.

Why do we have a separate data link for our phones, and our laptops. Why can't our phone display on our laptop? Why can't we use the laptop keyboard to do bulk data entry on our phone? Why do we *ever* have to take our phone out of our pocket, just to talk?

I hate typing in tiny keyboards. *WHEN* are we getting real time continuous voice recognition. I reallly would like to be able to say, "Max, shopping list, add milk, coffee, coconuts. That's all." "Max remind me to stop at Superstore on the way home, that's all"
"Max, email sid"
"Sid, where is that quote that was going to be ready last Thursday" pause. Endmail.
Sep 16, 2010
"Jeejah", just because that's what Neal Stephenson called phone/PC hybrids in his novel "Anathem."

Though it might simply be "computer", pretty soon: maybe "pocket computer" vs "desktop computer."
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 15, 2010
Oodle. Cause it does oodles and oodles of things. Not to be confused with poodle, which although is not as smelly as it could be, is a breed of dog.
Sep 9, 2010
'When my so-called phone rings, my first reaction is !$%*!$ What's wrong now?"'

- I guess you are married right?
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 8, 2010
I just go with "mobile".
Here is Australia we never called mobile phones "Cell" phones, it was always "Mobile Phones". Nowdays most people don't even use the suffix Phone when they refer to it, they just refer to their mobile.

This can broaden to take in communication devices than don't actually have the phone part built in, like an iPod touch or iPad.

Variously, the device in your pocket or handbag can make and recieve phone calls and/or texts either over the mobile cellular network or via WiFi; send and recieve emails, browse the web and interact with various social media sites, contain your calendar and address book, contain and play your music collection and take photo's and video's. It is a portable communication and multimedia device.
Sep 8, 2010
Simple. I'll call it my alter-ego. Does that sound logical? Since the phone knows and will record every thing I do, just like my head (or brain). Today if we lose a mobile phone, we practically lose almost every thing. It is considered more serious than losing our purse.
Sep 7, 2010
PID = Personal Information Device

Usage: I need to PIDdle something/someone
Sep 7, 2010
Well... in a series of books I read, they seem to just call them "units"

She sent it to her home unit, he read it on his work unit.
Sep 7, 2010
"Communicator" would be great, but, as you said, it's too long and klunky. However, "comm" is nice and short (one of the 4 letters is also a repeat!). If you dare say abbreviations don't count, then I point you to the numerous times you used the word "phone" in your blog post.

"Head" is just too weird.
Sep 7, 2010
Scott, You described the sound your "head" makes as "ringing". I think "ringing" is even more anachronistic then "mobile phone".

I don't have time to read all 107 comments (the bad man will be back soon) but has anyone suggested "thing".

You know, like, "Dude, your "thing" is beeping..."
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 7, 2010
I like "head." It does have a downside though. Imagine you tell your wife that you going to go and buy a "little head"
Sep 7, 2010
I think it's interesting twice as many people posted on this topic as the one about threats to our future.
Sep 7, 2010
You probably have no control over the advertising that appears to the left of your blog - but when I read this a Blackberry Torch ad appeared... Makes me wonder.
Sep 7, 2010
"When I get an email or text message, I feel a tingle of optimism"

I am 180 opposite - I'm a DBA so when I get an sms my reaction is "$^1 ! something's broke @ work!". I rarely send/receive personal texts b/c it creates a reverse Pavlovian, cortisol-releasing response in me...
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 6, 2010
Why not just call it the 'Digi-Phone'....most of the time people are Texting not speaking or listening on it. According to the www.net survey almost 4 billion texts are sent a day and only 1.3 billion calls are made.
Sep 6, 2010
I vote for dog - from the rhyming slang 'dog and bone' for phone. I always call mine that anyhow. Dog also has overtones of a faithful companion so it's in the right area as well as being short and snappy.
Sep 6, 2010
The deep-future sci-fi author Iain M. Banks had the concept of omni-purposeful personal computers - hand-held, pocket-held, always with you - as simply Terminals. It's my terminal. Possibly explicitly so, when it goes off when driving...
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