Why Smart Phones Aren't - Reason #3

I love movies. I especially love seeing movies in an old-fashioned movie theatre. The smell of popcorn. The immersiveness. The whole sensory experience. Well, almost...

Why oh why must I, my friends, and my family be subjected to nonsense warnings that precede every movie shown in a theatre? You know the ones: "Silence your phone", "Silence is golden", "It only takes one phone call to ruin a movie", etc, etc.

Even with all that preamble, there is inevitably someone at the theatre that ignores it, or is too distracted by their phone to see the warning. So, the messages are largely ineffective. Oh, the irony!

Let's think about this for a minute. According to the MPAA, "More than two thirds of the U.S./Canada population...227.8 million people went to the movies at least once in 2013"
(Source: http://www.mpaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/MPAA-Theatrical-Market-St...)

Let's take the most conservative view of this statistic. Assume that the total number of person-movies that year was 227.8 million. And, let's also assume that each one of these movies was preceded by a 10-second "Silence your cell phone" message.

That amounts to over 632,000 hours , or 26,365 days, or 72 years of lost time, in one year. "Smart" phone manufacturers, this is a problem you could have solved years ago. For just how many years has this been a solvable problem? My guess is 10.

"Smart" phone manufacturers, you are wasting my time. You are forcing theatres to air useless reminders and distractions. In economic terms, that's called an externality: pushing the costs onto others so you don't have to incur them yourself.

That's right. 720 years lost, in North America alone.

Stop this nonsense. Humanity has better things to do.

I'm sorry "smart" phones. You are as dumb as the day you were born. Think about it. It's really not that hard. Don't be fooled by the name. Movie theatres don't move. You know when you're inside one. Maybe it's time to pay attention?!

With the upcoming Ubuntu Phones, perhaps we, the people that believe in our shared humanity, can give back humanity this precious time it needs to get on with life and perhaps the chance to use this time to solve just one problem to make the world a better place...

---
Our best chance at a phone that respects humanity is here:
http://www.ubuntu.com/phone

More reasons "smart phones aren't are here:
http://blog.josephliau.com/documenting-the-death-of-the-dumb-telephone-p...
http://randall.executiv.es/dumbphones02
http://randall.executiv.es/dumbphones01

---
image by daniel
https://www.flickr.com/photos/number657/

 #

You raise an interesting point with this and previous posts but I'm sure you can do better: this group of posts is naive at best, more false advertising than thought provoking.

I want the Ubuntu phone to succeed as well but these are hard problems and I think that Ubuntu phone is far from being able to deliver on the promises you make for it (the only available solutions that I can think of would make me run away from a phone implementing them)!

I agree that it is important to identify them as things that can be improved, but actually solving them is a different story. If you have practical solutions, I'd love to read about it!

 
 #

If everyone pitches in, these problems are tractable.

If we all sit on the sidelines and worry about "what happens if our phones do this...", under some assumption that we are *not* in control then indeed there will be problems.

I'm not saying the Ubuntu Phone solves any of this yet. It could though.

I'll share some solutions in upcoming posts. For now, I want phone designers to question their assumptions.

 
 #

So, let me get this right: you would like movie theatre people to put some sort of a beacon in a cinema, and phones to turn themselves off or go into silent mode or something when they're near such a beacon?

Movie people would love that. In fact, they tried it. Years ago, concert promoters tried to insist that mobile phone manufacturers detected such a beacon and turned off the phone camera, in order to stop people taping at gigs and then uploading the pictures to YouTube, so that the concert promoters could ensure that there were only "official" DVDs of a gig and bootlegs were impossible. And actual real people hated the idea with the heat of a thousand suns. I do not want someone else to be able to disable my phone to support their business model. And that's what it'd get used for. If having someone at the MPAA decide when I could use my phone counts as smartness, I'd rather my phone were dumb. And so, thankfully, would the people who make it.

 
 #

You're putting words in my mouth, sil.

So, let me get this right: you would like movie theatre people to put some sort of a beacon in a cinema, and phones to turn themselves off or go into silent mode or something when they're near such a beacon?

Silence is golden. So, yes. In the interest of the many people that paid for the experience and that do not want it ruined, the theater manager should have the right to silence your phone.

Movie people would love that.

Randall would love that. So would a lot of his readers. :)

In fact, they tried it. Years ago, concert promoters tried to insist that mobile phone manufacturers detected such a beacon and turned off the phone camera, in order to stop people taping at gigs and then uploading the pictures to YouTube,

How is this a movie theater? How is a photograph of a concert in any way annoying to me while watching a movie?

I do not want someone else to be able to disable my phone to support their business model.

If you're ruining other's enjoyment of the movie, then your phone should be silenced or you should be ejected.

And that's what it'd get used for.

Only if we allow it. Don't assume slippery slope.

If having someone at the MPAA decide when I could use my phone counts as smartness, I'd rather my phone were dumb.

Where in my post does it advocate that the MPAA control your phone?

And so, thankfully, would the people who make it.

Do you claim to speak for everyone?

 
 #

I said "In fact, they tried it. Years ago, concert promoters tried to insist that mobile phone manufacturers detected such a beacon and turned off the phone camera, in order to stop people taping at gigs and then uploading the pictures to YouTube," and Randall replied, "How is this a movie theater? How is a photograph of a concert in any way annoying to me while watching a movie?", and continued, "Don't assume slippery slope".

It isn't a movie theatre. However, that's fairly clearly not the point, I thought. Perhaps I didn't explain it very well. Imagine that we wanted to implement this feature. It is extremely unlikely that it would be done by having a list of GPS locations of all cinemas in the world in the phone itself; this would mean that cinema owners have to apply to be on the list, it'd be a huge administration burden for Apple and Google and Canonical and Samsung, and it would be problematic for dual-use buildings (when the Brighton-based FF web conference hires a cinema as its venue, they *want* phones to work). So, the way it is much more likely to work is that a cinema owner buys a hardware device, rather like a wifi router, and a phone then refuses to make noise or show a bright screen or take photos or whatever when it detects one of these devices nearby. This makes cinema owners able to privately opt in to (or opt out from) the programme, means that they can switch the device off if required, and has no ongoing administration burden on mobile manufacturers.

However, once these devices exist, anyone can go and buy one, and lo, people who run concerts *will* buy one. This isn't a slippery slope argument; it's not one actor deciding to get worse. If we have the ability to externally restrict phone usage *at all*, even for good reasons, then it will also get used for reasons which we consider bad, because that makes perfect sense to those doing it. Hell, if I ran a bookshop then I'd love to ban people's phones from use inside, because it stops them disturbing others and it stops them looking up the prices of books on Amazon. I'd certainly buy one of these devices.

Randall asked, "do you claim to speak for everyone?". Obviously, I do not. However, when I said "[if this is smartness] I'd rather my phone were dumb. And so, thankfully, would the people who make it", I pretty much do claim to speak for phone manufacturers, precisely because they have been offered this choice of allowing someone external to disable phones before, and to their credit they have resisted it. I hope they continue to do so, despite Randall's arguments.

 
 #

There are times when one *does* need to be reachable at all times, even in the movie theater. For instance, if you are out watching a movie while your child is at a babysitter, you need to be able to rush home anytime if something bad happens. A phone which would "helpfully" block calls whenever you are in a theater would not be smart, but simply ignorant in my opinion.

 
 #

It's an interesting use case. Thanks for raising it.

A gentle "vibrate" setting combined with a visible alert on a minimally bright screen should work fine. Keep the phone in your pocket.

 

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