It seems like only a few years ago that we began making wry jokes about the doofus minority of people who walked down the street while texting or otherwise manipulating their phone, bumping into lamp-posts and so forth.
Now that has become the predominant mode of locomotion in the city, to the frustration of those of us who like to get anywhere fast and in a straight line. Pedestrian accidents are on the rise, and some urban authorities are even thinking of installing smart kerbside sensors that alert the phone-obsessed who are about to step into oncoming traffic. New technologies, as Adam Greenfield’s tremendously intelligent and stylish book repeatedly emphasises, can change social habits in unforeseen and often counterproductive ways.
The technological fixes to such technology-induced problems rarely succeed as predicted either.