My dreamquest: what has the "phone" become?

By Razib Khan | May 3, 2011 10:48 pm

What is this?

I experienced a very strange and perhaps illuminating dream last night. I’ve had an HTC Evo 4G since Christmas (for what it’s worth, Sprint’s customer service has been horrible, but the phone itself is great). Before that I had phones with internet access, but which were more primitive. At this point I probably can’t imagine what life was like without a phone like the Evo. That was evident in my dream.

Here’s what happened. Apparently I had left the phone in my pocket while doing laundry. This meant that it was damaged. For reasons which the dream-gods did not explain to me, as a replacement I received an old school gray Nokia of some sort, the likes of which I hadn’t encountered since the mid-2000s. Here’s the kicker, I looked at my replacement phone, and wondered out loud: “OK, so what am I supposed to do with this phone? All it can do is call people. I don’t even like calling people!”

Obviously I still refer to my phone as a phone. But at this point I don’t see its primary role as sending and receiving phone calls! (in fact, if I want more reliable voice I’ll probably go with Skype due to issues with reception) I am reminded of the origin of the term ‘stationery’.

MORE ABOUT: Technology
  • Robert

    “at this point I don’t see its primary role as sending and receiving phone calls!”

    Haha! It’s a slippery slope I don’t want to descend. I still use a old and discontinued Nokia 2128i (and have one in reserve.) It’s the pinnacle of cell phone design. Black and white LCD, no camera, no flip, internal antenna, slick and rounded as a used bar of soap and it has great battery life. The number pad discourages excessive texting. About the only extraneous feature is the built in flashlight.

  • Zachary Latif

    I got a phone upgrade today and am just marvelling in how even more interconnected I am.

    I’ll be online constantly but I’ve realised the more “virtual” we get, the more we value “real-life” face to face interactions.

  • EcoPhysioMichelle

    If you’re predisposed to liking face-to-face interactions, I guess. I generally dislike talking to most people on the phone or in person. Moreso on the phone– I don’t even enjoy talking to my own mother on the phone.

  • Brian Too

    The “phone” has become a tag, a label. It gives a name to a set of device attributes and communications capabilities. Small, pocket sized or less. Multi-modal. A communications enabler more than just talking.

  • EcoPhysioMichelle

    A communications enabler more than just talking.

    I like that.

  • Vogie

    A communications enabler more than just talking

    Communications enabler


    “Capitan’s log, supplemental…”

  • Martijn ter Haar

    More on how unimportant the ‘phone’ part for the ‘communication enabler’ has become: Nokia is constantly criticized for being behind the curve. Still your Nokia phone is probably a better phone-phone than your HTC. In my experience Nokia’s are made so that you can still call someone if you’re caught outside in a snowstorm on the Finnish country side, while Asian non-SonyEricsson phones only transmit wind sound if the wind force comes above 4 Beaufort.

  • jay

    Funny dream.

    I have a company-issued Blackberry smart phone, but I don’t use it much. Far too fragile. In my real life I carry a water resistant shock resistant yellow rubber covered Samsung that I can shove (without a case) into a jeans pocket and work under a truck (IT pro by day, grease monkey by night) without concern that the phone will be damaged. My grand daughter spilled apple juice on my phone, I simply washed it off.

    I have little desire for fragile toys (besides I can always use my wife’s Palm Pre if I need on the go internet).


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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