NYT Bombshell: “Many New Yorkers Keep Their Smartphones Always Within Reach”
Today’s Metro section of the NYT focuses on NYC tech. Pretty cool! Naturally, I’m surrounded by this stuff because of my job, but I think NYT did an excellent job at packaging everything together. You really should check out its NYC startup map, an excellent visual example of just how fast tech companies are multiplying here. Awesome.
But the lead story for the package ruins the whole thing. It’s called “Out On The Town, Always Online.”
Here’s the story’s nut graf:
For people of a certain technological proclivity, this has become the new multitasking: to live simultaneously in the physical world and in their smartphones, without missing out on either.
The story continues with vignettes of people using their smartphones in social situations: Texting at dinner. Checking Twitter and Foursquare to see where friends are. Smartphones left on the dinner table in case an e-mail comes in. You get the idea.
I can see part of the appeal when the author, John Leland, pitched the story to his editors. Smartphone use is exploding, and it could be interesting to the older crowd of NYT readers to see how us youngin’s are locked into our digital universe.
But Leland doesn’t demonstrate that. My mother is 54 years old (about the same age as Leland) and checks her iPhone just as often as the 20 and 30-somethings mentioned in the story. Her friends, also in their late forties and fifties, are the same way. I’ve seen it. Anyone with a smartphone is. It doesn’t matter if your 24 or 94, if you know how to use the technology and you’re friends do too, you’re hooked.
So I had a good laugh when I opened up the Metro section this morning and read Leland’s story. (Yes, I get the paper delivered on weekends.) It reminded me a lot of this “trend piece” in the NYT from earlier this year. Kids graduate college! They move to NYC! They go to bars! Mom and dad help pay rent!
I’m not sure if the NYT is so out of sync with our culture that it can’t pick up a trend until it’s been around for years — or decades in the case of the Murray Hill story —or if it’s going out of its way to warp these trends into a overarching thesis criticizing NYC’s youth for supposedly wrecking the city’s classic culture and etiquette.
If I had to guess, I’d say it’s the latter.
"AOL has found a way to acquire what it cannot build, but it still hasn’t found a way to hang on to what it has."
David Carr’s column about Engadget editors leaving to start a tech site on SB Nation