The Anthropology of Mobile Phones

Right now if you look in my father’s wallet you will find money, a driver’s license, medical cards, pictures of me, bank information and more pictures of me. Along with his keys these are tools for survival. Anthropologist Jan Chipchase writes that all the cards in a wallet and the wallet itself may become a thing of the past. Jan has studied global cultures and they are moving to a new information holder, not the wallet, the mobile phone.

Jan describes how culture and design will change as more and more people use their mobile devices for everything. Already, you can use a cell phone for online mobile banking. Paying with your phone has begun to catch on all over the world. Phones store pictures, take pictures and you can just click on it or swipe and a picture can appear. Some states have allowed driver’s licenses on the mobile phone. In the future when a policeman stops you, license, registration and insurance cards will all be viewed on the mobile phone. Jan points out that how we relate to each other will be transformed. This changing world is what anthropologists study as a way to get better ideas. Studying these behavioral patterns is what modern anthropology is all about.


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