A phone by any other ‘nym is just as slick
Published on November 12, 2010 by Sebastian Holst
(…or, are smartphones also people too?)
One of my favorite words is retronym. A retronym is a new name for an existing (old) thing that becomes necessary because of progress. (what!?) Examples help – the term “acoustic guitar” was only necessary when electric guitars hit the scene. The term black and white TV was not born with the invention of TV – it was born with the invention of color TV.
But we don’t have color phones, we have SMARTphones!
And here is the twist – a smartphone is more than a new class of phone, its also an anthropomorphism (ascribing human attributes to a thing that is not human). Phones can’t really be smart – people are smart (at least in theory).
As I’ve already written in some of my more verbose entries below, smartphones are important because they combine the best of computing, communication, content, and social forces – to become something entirely new.
And as one more piece of supporting evidence that the smartphone hype is real – not only do smartphones promise to disrupt markets, business operations, and social norms … they have given us our very first anthropomorphic retronym – the dumbphone.
I didn’t make this up – see Dumbphone. Its the first of its kind – and i think that’s worth noting.
Can you hear me now?