Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Conversation Context

Why are mobile phones so distracting to the point where over 30 countries have made it illegal to drive while operating a mobile phone. If having a conversation with someone over the phone is so distracting, why isn't it illegal to chat to a passenger in your car?

In England, at least, it's legal to use a mobile phone while driving, as long as you are operating the phone "hands-free". Personally, however, I wouldn't feel safe operating a mobile phone while driving, regardless of whether or not I could use the phone and keep both hands on the wheel.

The reason is to do with context, and it doesn't just apply to using a mobile phone in a car - I have the same issue with landlines and three-way-conversations involving somebody in the room with me.

The trouble is, in both examples, I'm the piggy-in-the-middle, but neither of the other "players" communicates with each other directly.

In the landline example, the other players are obviously the person on the other end of the line and the person in the same room as me. In the mobile example, one player is the person on the mobile, while the other player is the environment in which I'm driving my car.

If somebody was sat in the car with me, and the lights turned green, they could see that I was concentrating and hang fire with the conversation until they could see that there was less demand for my attention. But the person on the other end of the mobile can't see the road, and know when to pause, so will carry on talking and distracting me, without realising.

I'm sure there's an analogy to programming here, but for the life of me I can't see it... :-S

No comments: