The Power of a Smart Phone

People often forget the miraculous things our phones are capable of. I myself am often caught off guard by a new update or new feature I find on my phone. As someone fairly new to the smart phone world, it is no wonder I am always staring at the screen. Just two years ago I had an “old school” flip phone. All I was able to do was talk and text. Today, you can do everything from use the internet, skype call, tweet, facebook, play video games, watch Netflix, and even make short films.

Even with today’s standard of technology, I can’t help but think to myself “what else can they do? “ After reading the CNN article about the use of mobile phones in Africa, I found out that there is actually quite a lot to be done. We have all seen short video clips of someone fighting, or a comedian on stage that somebody filmed with their Iphone, or even the Waco explosion that just happened. These little videos do so much more than just supply hours of entertainment; they also give insight to our generation and were it is we are headed.  What I mean to say is that, our world has become some media hungry and attention crazed that people are constantly posting things online to get noticed. Take youtube, just how many videos on the site do you think are shot using a cell phone. It amazes me that so many people strive for fame in that way. I myself understand the hope of one day being “famous,” but posting random cell phone videos isn’t going to do that for me. Or is it?

Zacuto has put on an event called the Great Camera Shootout for a few years now, and this year they decided to use an Iphone. Yeah, I know. After watching the beautiful documentary, I was actually surprised by the quality achieved out of the camera. It amazed me that you can place a $400 phone next to a $2000 dslr, and not be able to distinguish the 2. This advanced technology within the phone allows for a clearer image and better quality product. Using this camera as a means of awareness and evidence is a great step away from the Technological Deterministic views. I’m sure the first person to put a camera in a phone wasn’t thinking to him/herself, “This will one day help people find terrorist and murderers.” But look where we are today, people are able to capture both images and video in a format that is easily accessible and good quality.

The use of these phones via text message and cameras is a great way to help people travel safer, be more aware, and hopefully help those in power bring peace to redouble areas. During the riots in Egypt, multiple videos were put out showing the beatings and cruel nature in which the cops treated those they arrested. These types of videos give a voice to those that normally wouldn’t have one, and I say “good.”

Do you think that using videos from phones as evidence in a case is fair?

Do you often record videos using your phone? If so, then what do you record?

Is it possible for the use of the videos to help bring peace, or will they end up harming those instead? 

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3 Responses to The Power of a Smart Phone

  1. katgosko says:

    Say the phone belongs to the suspect, like for their home, police need a search warrant before they can enter. It should be the same way with phones, they should be treated with respect, yet be allowed to use for evidence in cases. During the Boston Marathon, many people posted videos and pictures online, allowing those images and videos to be viewed to the online public. Although it was their right to post these pictures online, some people could have unintentionally hurt the victims and their families more by publishing those images during such a tragic time. When using phones and choosing what videos and photos to reveal, we must remember how it could potential affect another person.

    I often record videos on my phone. Most of what I record is something I find humorous, whether its my cats fighting, my husband dancing and occasionally the accidental pocket video.

    Videos are our phones are just a tool people use, it is up to the person how they use them. In my opinion, I believe the good outweighs the bad. Most people find comfort and peace in using their videos for good, like sharing a laugh, seeing a child’s first steps and bring encouragement to others. There may be some accidental and purposeful harmful videos, but most people choose what they watch to be positive.

  2. Agreed, smart phones are getting smarter and smarter. They’re helping us in ways we couldn’t even imagine ten years ago, yet, all these developments have made me a bit of a technophobe. While I agree with your idea that cell phones can create a means to document our generation (our experiences, likes, dislikes, etc.), I also think it might misrepresent us. Hopefully in the future, we will not be represented as some generation that lived through their phones and social media.

    Youtube is definitely a medium that people can look at decades from now and see how things were back when. But, like you said, so much of the content is kids looking for attention or trying to become famous. I would hate it if some scholar one hundred years from now researched Youtube videos and concluded that all we did was do drive through pranks or sing in front of our webcams.

    When it comes to technologically deterministic views, I agree with you. It is amazing to see all the ways we have adapted cell phones to perform certain tasks for us. The same goes for Africans. It was not the cell phone that made them better in agriculture, activism, or education; it was their own actions and choices on how to use the phones that made the difference. It’s amazing to think of all the other possible ways phones can help people. That said, these things come at a price. There are so many possible negative consequences for people when they become reliant on things like cell phones.

    Your discussion questions bring up many great points. First off, yes and no, I think it depends on the case that is being investigated. Videos on phones can be used to capture the truth, but they can also be used to manipulate it. Secondly, I rarely use my phone to record videos but when I do they are often just to record friends doing something stupid. It’s not exactly something that I’d hope generations down the line could look back on and say, “Hey, this is how they all acted back then.” Finally, I think the use of mobile phone videos would best help activism. Based on videos we have seen of police brutality, injustice, and other crimes this has proven to be a medium that can spread this information quickly. While they may help some people, they might also hurt others.

  3. kristako says:

    Evidence is evidence. Whether that is shot from a camera phone or its someone’s eye witness testimony, that is relatively minute when it comes down to the charges against someone. I do, however, feel that some things can be taken out of context from a cell phone video and that if someone were to be used in a court of law as evidence, it will need to be a supplement to other pieces of the puzzle. Someone can not solely be convicted by a shotty cell phone video.
    I record videos on my iPhone all the time. But the difference between what I shoot and what other people shoot may be completely different. I mean, I have a pug who does some silly stuff and it is something I find wildly entertaining but am I going to post it on YouTube and expect it to go viral, I don’t think so.  I have also used my iPhone to record concerts, people doing stupid yet hilarious things, and family get-togethers. I have never witnessed a crime in action but if I did, I probably would be one of the people who catch something on video. Although, I would hope that I would be a person to spring into action if needed, I just can’t say either way.
    Videos like the one of Oscar Grant III have the capabilities of bringing justice. If there wasn’t cell phone video capabilities, his story may not have been so far-reaching. Yes there were eyewitnesses but no actual evidence of what had happened. So I truly believe that the emergence of cell phone videos and the knowledge that someone could record you in public can bring peace. I think it is safe to say that in the end, they will only bring more peace than harm.

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