I doubt there’s any shortage of scholarly papers on the sociological and anthropological effects of the mobile phone. I’ve never had a desire to search out and read any of them.
But my interest was piqued by Amber Case, one of the attendees at Gnomedex 8.0. A recent graduate, Amber describes her area of work and study as "Cyborg Anthropology." Ooh. She was kind enough to send me a copy of her thesis: "The Cell Phone and Its Technosocial Sites of Engagement." Here’s a snippet from the introduction:
"Mobile telephony has ushered in social geographies that are no longer entirely public or entirely private. The mobile phone allows place to exist in non-place, and privacy to exist in public. Never before have people been able to disembody their voices and talk across any distance, in almost any place. Cell phone technology has thus changed the dichotomies of place and non-place as well as the private and public dichotomies into a technological-human hybrid."
I think I’ve had a whiff of this idea from all the time I spend communicating online. And when I break down and graft an iPhone to my hip, it’s only going to get better/worse.