People Using Their Mobile Phones to Find Mecca

Intel study upsets ideas of how products are used

In the West, one of the critical metaphors we use to divide up our time and our space is the idea of the negotiation between work and leisure. Those are the two categories into which most of our activities fall, and when you think about the kind of models people assume for technology use, it's one of those two things. But what if there's a third set of activities that are really important? What if there are things around play, or religion or health and wellness that don't neatly fit into the work or leisure category? One of the things that became clear in Asia, and is becoming true in the West, but we're not really good at seeing it, is that people are using these technologies for those third activities. In Asia, it's visible in the way people use mobile devices to support religious activities. The nicest example is people using their mobile phones to find Mecca. LGE, a Korean handset company, has produced a Mecca-finding handset with GPS technology in it. So it's a tool of religious devotion. They anticipated selling 300 million units in the first couple years.

I’ve always been disappointed by Christianity’s lack of daily ritual as truly integrated experience. The “disciplines” constructed by modern iterations–“quiet time” et. al.–are so cheesy and lack the physical or interruptive qualities that might induce meaning (“QT” usually induces sleep). Others have of course given thought to such things (that’s just one example of many from one person of many).