Substitutephone: the useful smartphone that does nothing

Internet is a wide and complex universe, hard to describe in a simple way or in a few lines.   In this article we will try to explain it better by using a paradox.

Mr. Klemens Schillinger had a brilliant idea: he invented the smartphone that does nothing.

The “Substitutephone” has the same size and shape of a smartphone, but it does not have a display or provide any kind of service. It is only an empty box.
It is a replacement, useful for those who suffer from Internet addiction.
The cyberuser who can’t get along without the smartphone, can manage the uncontrollable urge of going online by using a substitute, or better, holding a “Substitutephone”.
It’s about a familiar object, analogous to the original one, enriched by tactile elements such as spheres which permit to replicate some movements when touching the screen.
We don’t know if the “Substitutephone” will be on the market or if it will rest only a challenge. What we are certain of is that this is much more than a design exercise. It is the antithesis which demonstrates the thesis; a paradox, an oxymoron which highlights how Internet is changing our lives, our daily routine.
This smartphone, the tool that allows us to communicate almost with everybody and have access to all the contents online, is replaced by a tool practically alike, except one detail: instead of letting us doing everything (or almost) it enables us to do anything.
This nothing which opens another paradox! This useless tool gives us back our space and our time in the real world. This nothing allows us once again to do everything.

It is the apotheosis of the contraiction.
It is the opposite gaining a foothold in order to contrast a strong dependence.
We are talking about nomophobia.

It is “FOMO”, the fear of missing out.
It is a phenomenon that involves millions of people.

substitute phone

Internet, available to all, offers innumerable opportunities, but at the same time distracts us from the real world of which it is the antagonist, the alternative.

There is a further paradox to underline: be unable to disconnect us from Internet, makes the virtual world indispensable, equal with the real world. We are compulsorily present in two adjacent and parallel universes.

The quickness and the instantaneousness which characterizes Internet brings us, more and more frequent, to be online; always up to date.
Which one is the most recent post or tweet or trend or selfie?

What does the future hold for us? We’ll be always online connected? Most likely…

What do we suggest? Use Internet without prejudices but sometimes turn your smartphone off, do it often and start looking around.
And if you can’t do it then get yourself a useful “Substitutephone”.


entropy Web

Entropy on Web

Internet is the great box of all that is said, thought or done in our era.

Internet is a participative space. 
Practically, it gives everyone the freedom of speech and thought. 

It is the natural consequence of the global need, to participate, to express one’s own thought and opinion, by debating and countering.
Modern society limited to very few the publication and diffusion of contents, to authorities or privileged, leaving to all others, the mass, only the role of listeners, readers and viewers.
“Webmodern” society, beginning with Internet, has opened Pandora’s box. It has given to everybody the immediate possibility to bring the own contribution, even if not authoritative.
In fact, we moved in a short time, a decade, from an elitist management of information to an anarchic management of the same; from preclusion to total openness, from a mono flow of a directional communication to an informative and global tsunami.

Every network node, every person, communicates, participates. 
Everyone can write what he wants. 

All the world’s inhabitants who have a normal level of sociability and communication are exposed online.

It is estimated a traffic of 5 billion gigabytes per day. 
That means approximately 1 gigabyte for each inhabitant of planet Earth. 

What is generating this enormous informative mass?

Entropy, a lot of entropy. 

To explain what is happening, we support two definitions of entropy, which we find very modern and relevant.

  1. A gradual degeneration of a system toward the maximum disorder.

It is our case: Internet has been overloaded of contents of every kind; it is getting more and more difficult to find, browse, trace and expose, if not taking to extremes the ways of communication as well as the content published. First we have overcrowded our urban centers turning them into metropolis, now we are overcrowding the web.

  1. The information theory, what is of impediment to the clarity and uniqueness of the message; major is the entropy, minor is the quantity of information.

An informative overloading, coming from below, can progressively create an informative short circuit? Absolutely! In the face of billion of contents inserted daily, the original information, valid and competent, is submerged by an endless quantity of “trash contents”.
The search engines, especially Google, in front of this informative tsunami, must evaluate all the information by guessing what is relevant and understand what the cyberuser is searching for.
It is an ocean of noise that very often turns into small waves on the shore. Google algorithmically disintegrates the entropy by reducing it, on the first page, to thirteen or fourteen occurrences, of which three or four proposals for advertising. The rest, all of it, is in the storage, available only beginning from page two, for few, very few curious; a single process, unthinkable only ten years ago.
To an excessive increase of posted contents, getting from all over correspond a very high level of entropy and consequently a reduced set of useful information.

What will happen in the next decade? 

The most catastrophists say that the entropy, the overloading of contents, will win and all of us will be satisfied with the first ten options of the result list or maybe only with the first occurrence on the list.
The most optimists are convinced that this is only an early stage. A new “Generation Z” more skilled to use the web, will make use of the information more consciously. Simultaneously the search engines will develop more rational and intelligent algorithms.

To be realistic both dynamics will partially impose. 

The surplus of contents which involves all the topics discussed online makes difficult the search and the evaluation having an impact on our way of thinking, our ethic, our social and political conscience.
The Internet’s future lies in the dynamics of use by billion of users as well as in the informative flows which follow, ever-expanding flows. The limits for this process or the expanding methods are unknown and, to this day, are unpredictable.
Maybe the excess of information will determine in the future a BIG BANG of our virtual universe, the Web. To that point, we will invent something else.

Educating to the use of smartphone

In just six years, since 2011, the use of smartphones, and therefore the access on the move to services and contents online has increased from few percentage points, often below 1%, to over 50% of the connections.

This axiom, so clear in the percentages mentioned above, already described in our Italian article “The smartphones more used than the personal computers” has suggested us an original study.

We have positioned ourselves on an avenue of high-density of traffic in Rome, at 8:00 o’clock, in a sunny working day. We have chosen deliberately a spot of the avenue where at peak times the traffic progressively slows down and proceeds at a walking pace.

Educating Smartphone Car

Taking up a sheet of paper and a pen, bothered by the acrid unbreathable smell, we begin to write down the drivers’ behavior for an hour. The revealed data are therefore to be considered approximate by default we might have eluded some behavior.

We assure you that the sample, considering the huge traffic, is very significant in terms of numbers, age and social background.

 What have we seen? 

Approximately 2 out of 10 drivers, meaning 20%, use the smartphone for calling. They “are holding” the smartphone while driving. This behavior, dangerous and forbidden by law, was already widespread with the “normal cell phones”. The driver uses only one hand for driving, with the other one he is holding the phone and often distracted by what is happening on the road causes conversation.

Even more concerning is the fact that of these approximately 1 driver out of 20, actually almost 1.4 drivers, meaning 7%, uses the cell keyboard while driving, maybe for “texting” through chat, perhaps  through WhatsApp or Facebook.

We are dealing with a dangerous behavior because, very often, to our message follow those of our friends which, instinctively or out of curiosity, we are immediately tempted to read.

The driver sees the road “intermittently”, he is elsewhere. In some cases he places the phone on the wheel maybe to read better or even worse to write with both hands.

None of the drivers caught by us fiddling with the smartphone had a travelling companion; an aspect to be taken into consideration.

It is right to point out that the huge traffic surely stimulates this deviant behavior.  It is equally important to specify that the spot subject of monitoring doesn’t have traffic lights and the line, although continuous, has practically never had a total block, therefore, even though at a walking pace, the cars never stop, they are always on the move with lots of cars coming from other streets.

What we detected is that holding in hand the smartphone while driving is a very dangerous behavior. 

But why a very significant part of Italians is using the smartphone in a compulsive and villain way?

The first motivation stays in this article’s premise; internet and smartphones have spread very fast. There has been a lack of “education to the use of smartphone” or driver’s ed if you prefer. We use the smartphones and nothing else!

In schools it is forbidden the smartphones’ use, but there is no explanation why. This is not provided for a digital educational path, if not in some experimental cases. A significant path, arranged in more lessons, with ad hoc teaching, different in age and student sensibility, intended to explain when to go online and when is not appropriate.

On second thought, there aren’t very young people driving at 8 o’clock in the morning, so the lack of digital education doesn’t concern only the young millennials, but the adults too; the adults who live the day partly characterized by frantic rhythms partly by long waiting.  Waiting in which the smartphone acts as a socialization tool, an entertainment. The smartphone becomes an indispensable tool for alienating the boredom and for maintaining constant the frantic rhythms of our day especially when we are alone.

We need to communicate with our social web, our family and our friends, we want to share and smile a little. We find difficult to resist this need, especially when our smartphone is handy.

Let’s try to be constructive what can we do to get rid of this bad habit in adults in a short time?

It is simple, by daily broadcasting on TV (and Internet) commercials which underlines the inherent risks in using the smartphone while driving.  Broadcasting on and on alongside with those of phone companies, snacks, cars, perfumes and so on…which are being proposed to us at every hour of the day.

A digital education project, similar to those already proposed in other contexts by the Italian Progress Publicity Foundation

An innovative project which could save a lot of lives made by Italian RAI television that, we remind you, is a public communication company.

It is a simple principle: we use the mass communication tools and the web for educating as well as for convincing to buy things. Let’s use it properly and not symbolically and occasionally!  We do hope that this simple suggestion will be adopted.

We conclude with good news, during the experimental period 7 bicycles had passed us. People we presume, according to their clothes were aimed to work, cycling, with their hands tight on the handlebars and the smartphone, probably, in the pocket.

There is hope for the future! 


The Internet thought


We are at home, connected to the Internet, we open Google to look for something… We have the mono field in front of us where to write, the keyboard and maybe the mouse; here too we follow a logical scheme.

Only few of us read sequentially the Google search result list, usually our look scrutinises familiar reliable terms such as wikipedia, amazon, promotions, last minutes, commercials. And very few of us, probably the same who believe that the draughts pieces can be of chocolate, continue analysing the following pages to the first one on the result list.
From the Google list we select a website, as mentioned before, the one which brand or terms present in the first two lines proposed by Google, lines following the title, seem to us pertinent or familiar. The two lines proposed by Google for every occurrence are really minimal to decide rationally.

The selected site offers hundreds of alternatives, menu items, icons, large texts, small texts, images and videos, sliding windows. In this case too we follow a scheme, in the face of such entropy we automatically discard and we don’t read everything sequentially, it would take too long! We look for single terms, our attention being drawn away by images or titles and, finally, we click.

What we found seem interesting and we share it on Facebook, even if we are well aware of the fact that many of our friends will not read it. Nobody has the time to read all the things posted by the friends on the social network. We open Facebook, with the help of our mouse or of our fingertip, we quickly scroll down the posts shared by our friends, looking for some image or some funny or trendy term, or the most “liked” one. This is another case where we follow patterns of reading and thinking aimed at simplification.

Internet has introduced in our life new patterns of thought, fast, selective, caustic; patterns we repeat more and more often.
The enormous amount of information has set in motion a process of disinterest and massive discard, of selection through repeated and sometimes trivial fruition patterns.

The Internet thought” follows logical schemes and customs different from those we live in the real world; a different conception of the sentence, space and time for reading.

We can quit reading anytime because we have no restrictions to follow and no obligations.  The Internet provides, to each of us, the possibility to give our own contribution, of merit or without value, allowing us to live constantly the virtual spaces and to dissolve the enormous entropy by selecting only what we intuitively consider extremely important or interesting.

All of these are virtual elements, concomitant, which determine new patterns of thought, new methods of reasoning online, namely collective or individual.

There is nothing dramatic or definitive in all this, we are simply facing an epochal and global change which concerns our mankind.

Basically Internet is changing our way of thinking.   


The Google Doodle

The Google Doodle is one of the Internet symbols seen online every day by hundreds of millions of people; it is a real icon of our time, the emblem of a different way of communication, of providing information, of highlighting or reminding something.

But why do we like Google Doodle so much? 

First of all because it is simple; it is an image of well-defined size, never excessive, always introduced into the same context, placed on the same spot and on the same white page; simple and at the same time efficient.

Its sound, in complete harmony with the main brand “Google”, and its literally meaning,  make the doodle rather informal, contemporary and  close to the new way of doing network.


The more we use Google the better we understand its interface, its instructions for use minimalist and intuitive; it doesn’t represent point of departure, in terms of communication, of interaction visual or technological, but a point of arrival.

Year after year Portals, Social networks, Apps and Blogs follow a process of simplification aimed at usability, with the intent to provide more and more information, services, multimedia contents and so on, and at the same time, with the purpose to get easier and easier to use. Step by step they get closer to “that white page”, now so familiar but not too long ago the one that seemed to us almost empty.

Google is a global search engine, but above all, remains the Forerunner in terms of simplicity of use and visual impact.

Strangely enough we also like Google Doodle for the opposite reason, on an extremely white page it represents a touch of color, an element of highest standards, pleasant and never too excessive, that renews the page and catch our attention diverting it from the main objective which is searching something online.

It is the antagonist of the mono search field. 

The Doodle is the yin in complete, chromatic and functional, opposition to the yang of Google. It has the difficult task of minimizing the role of the mono search field, the real web’s “center” and the binder of thought.


We like even more Google Doodle because it doesn’t have direct and explicit promotional purposes (except to remind us the fact that we are on Google, but we already know this). Is no small thing in a world, real and virtual, swamped with banners, messages and advertising spots.

The Google Doodle reminds us birthday anniversaries of eminent people who give value to science, community, culture, human rights and so on. It reminds us recent and less recent events, holidays, anniversaries… It is a “bridge”, a “clasp” with the past and traditions.

If older people remember, the young people and the very young ones, attracted to the image and its colors like bears to honey, may discover some interesting character or event of the past and casually learn something.

But the real reason why we like Google Doodle “so much” is the fact that it has no borders, just the way internet is transnational, shows-and-tells “a little bit of everything”. At a time when in the real world the right of citizenship stands above the human and asylum rights, the Google Doodle tells us situations and events which often go beyond our “virtual” geographical boundaries.

Furthermore, for those who do not know, Google provides an archive of Doodle available at the following address: 

To older people it may seem impossible, but in a few decades the archive of Google Doodle will be seen as an archive of memory, a database of Remembrance, an element of nations’ union which goes beyond the borders.

Are we going too far? Maybe, but if we try to imagine a world where everyone is connected to the network, it isn’t difficult to imagine the next step, and that is hypothesizing where the knowledge will  be stored, and how the new generations  shall refer to this source of knowledge. We challenge you to think to a different place other than Google or its natural evolution where to place our past, events, anniversaries, the eminent people and so on…

What is missing? A Doodle dedicated to Worldtwodotzero. We are certain that Google, after having read and appreciate this wonderful article, will decide to dedicate a Doodle to Worldtwodotzero, to the fact that we mention internet without any commercial purposes. You think it won’t happen?  It doesn’t matter, we like Google Doodle anyway.