The last 6 days in Bologna have been the longest stretch in close to 6 years that I have not had access to a fully functional mobile phone.
My Motorola Droid sits in my front right pocket, but without an international calling or data plan, it has been rendered an alarm clock and occasional game console.
The most immediate side effect of not having a mobile phone has been the difficulty of coordinating social activities; meeting up with friends now requires advanced decision making and is complicated by any late changes in schedule or location.
With the growing ubiquity of mobile technologies across the globe, my experiences are a small glimpse into how mobile phones have created new opportunities for group coordination.
People around the world have used mobile phones to raise funds for natural disasters, track crop disease in Africa, apply for jobs in India, and even buck cultural trends and find dates in the Middle East.
Not having a mobile phone in Italy has served as a visceral reminder of the full potentiality of mobile technologies in coordinating groups of people.
Whether helping organizations respond to a natural disaster or helping study abroad students coordinate dinner plans in Bologna, mobile technologies have created a vibrant space where increasingly sophisticated human behaviors can develop.