Ready, Fire, Aim! - Mihail's Public Blog: What phone numbers do *you* know?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What phone numbers do *you* know?

Do you know your significant other's phone number? If so, I'm impressed! I have no idea what his cell phone number is since it is programmed into our home phone and into my cellphone so I've never had the need to actually dial it.

In fact, like Paris Hilton, my cellphone is my complete contact list for anyone I've ever met (some 6,629 contacts, some of whom I'm sure are out of date, since I haven't been using something like Plaxo to update them!).

As I was browsing at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park tonight, a good friend Brian called and I answered with "Hello, Brian" much to his surprise that I'd recognized his number and/or his voice. I hadn't. My Treo had and flashed his name on my phone so I knew exactly who was calling. I like that. Because I can choose to ignore the phone call if it is someone I don't want to, or can't, speak to at that moment.

Interesting New York Times story (registration required) on the phenomenon of not knowing most of the numbers you need each day. With 176 million cell phone subscribers and 531 million total phone numbers (cell, business, fax, home, pager) between us all in the United States, can anyone blame us?

Edward Tenner, author of technology books like "Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences" and a senior research associate at the National Museum of American History, traced part of the problem to the rise of 10-digit dialing, which is almost a necessity now, even for local calls [while human memory is best suited to remember no more than nine-digit numbers].

...A recent study in Britain found that 29 percent of those surveyed worried that if they lost their phones they would also lose contact with friends, colleagues and business associates whose numbers were in their phones. Seventeen percent said their phone was the only place they kept such numbers.

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