Analyzing an Issue or Event in Technology through the Lenses of the Natural and Applied Sciences and the Social Sciences

Analyzing Cell Phones through the Lenses of History and the Humanities
History Lens

When Martin Cooper, an engineer at Motorola, presented the first cellular phone to the world on April 3, 1973 (Kodukula, 2021), mankind’s history would forever be changed. Cellular phones have changed how we communicate, how we learn, and how we interact with our world. In particular to learning, how we collect, store, analyze, and access information has fundamentally changed since the inception of the first mobile phone. History and the humanities, as academic pursuits, offer a concise example of how cellular technology transformed the academia landscape. Historians, through mobile phone technology, have a collaboration tool, keys to the entire human-generated library, and ultimately, an instrument that generations of historians will use to transmit knowledge across generations.

Research in the humanities and history discipline before the invention and proliferation of mobile phones often required researchers to intimately interact with their subjects. For instance, researchers interested in learning about the history of the Second World War, often had to physically interact with materials and people conversant with events revolving around the war. However, with the invention of the cellular phones, historians do not have to physically engage with subjects or materials of interest. Most of the time, it suffices to make a voice or video call to subjects and gain access to historical and sociological information they have, for instance, how humans interact and respond to their environment (Thomée, 2018). Moreover, historians can leverage modern technologies incorporated in mobile phones, such as internet connectivity, to gain access to pictures of historical materials such as documents. As long as these materials are corroborated to be original, they suffice to add to the historical archives of a topic of interest.

Humanity Lens

Archiving and storage of information is vital to humanity scholars. Through the two processes, humans have kept chronological information of numerous topics and subjects that historians leverage in their profession. The ability to keep valid records of events and subjects is vital to modern historians. Researchers are aware of the importance of having a persistent and immutable memory that transverses generations since it provides a snapshot of mankind during a specific era. However, most of humanity’s history was never preserved. Our ancestor, mostly due to lacking recording skills, did not leave sufficient information illustrating our origins as a species. When they gained the ability to read and write, humanity still lost chunks of its history through natural disasters and man-made catastrophes. For instance, the Library of Alexander, which burned down in the Century, resulted in the loss of thousands of years of mankind’s history and knowledge (Rico, 2017). With the invention of the cell phone, humanity’s knowledge is no longer subject to the vulnerability of brought about by centrality. Our historical development as a species is decentralized across the internet, and can readily be accessed by anyone with a cellphone with internet connectivity.

Scholars in the humanities also benefit from the flexibility, persistence, and ease of access brought about by the digital revolution of cellular technology. Sociologists, for instance, can today access rich databases of information from numerous human societies. With access to such rich information sources, researchers in social sciences are able to explain social phenomena at an increasingly rapid pace. Through the advent of cellular phones, sociologists gained the ability of observing human behavior at an unprecedented pace. The mobile phone, for instance, has revealed numerous aspects of how people socialize through the observation of social media platforms build on top of cellular technology.