Actress Kristin Scott Thomas made an interesting observation the other day while discussing foreign language films:
"People will now go to films with subtitles, you know," she added. "They're not afraid of them. It's one of the upsides of text-messaging and e-mail." She smiled. "Maybe the only good thing to come of it."
The abundance of scrolling tickers on CNN, ESPN, and CNBC may be even more of a contributing factor...if in fact people are more willing to see films with subtitles. (via ben and alice)
Call A Ball is an idea for a soccer ball vending machine where balls are dispensed via an SMS from a mobile phone. You can also issue a "challenge" for other players to meet you at the machine. And if you'd like to keep the ball, it's charged to your phone bill.
Got quite a few emails in response to my post on sweethearting/pinging. Several people mentioned pranking as a current implementation of this idea, a trick I remember using as a kid. You call someone and hang up after one ring..."prank me when you're outside my apartment and I'll come down". Pranking is typically driven by economics...you don't pay for a phone call that doesn't connect.
Gen Kanai asks: "why can't SMS do this?" It certainly can; if I were implementing sweethearting, I would piggyback it on SMS. But what I'm really concerned with (as usual) is the user experience. To send a blank text message to a specific recipient with my phone takes at least 6-10 keystrokes. I want to do it in two keystrokes and (in time) without looking.
 I received reports of pranking being used all over the world. It's called one-belling (or pranking) in England, people send "toques" (roughly "touches") or "sting" each other in Spain, Italians "fare uno squillo" (which Google translates as "to make one blast"), and in Finland it's called "bombing".
Update: In South Africa, they call it a "Scotch call".
Here's a feature I would like on my mobile phone: the ability to "ping" someone with 2 or less keypresses (something that takes around a second to do), even if the keypad is locked. The idea is that when I press a couple of buttons on my phone (say, 1#), a tiny content-less message is sent to the person corresponding to that key combination. On their end, they see something like "Jason pinged you at 7:34pm" with the option to ping right back. You'd have to set up what pings mean beforehand, stuff like "I'm leaving work now" or "remember to pick up milk at the store".
Pings would be perfect for situations when texting or a phone call is too time consuming, distracting, or takes you out of the flow of your present experience. If you call your husband on the way home from work every night and say the same thing each time, perhaps a ping would be better...you wouldn't have to call and your husband wouldn't have to stop what he was doing to answer the phone. You could even call it the "sweetheart ping" or "sweethearting"...in the absence of a prearraged "ping me when you're leaving", you could ping someone to let them know you're thinking about them.
This reminds me a bit of Matt Webb's Glancing project: I'm Ok, you're Ok. I guess you could think of pinging as eye contact via mobile phone...just enough information is conveyed to be useful, but not so much that it disrupts what you're already doing. Webb cites Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs:
Howard Rheingold in his book Smart Mobs gives a good example of text messaging being used for this. He talked about kids in Sweden after a party. Say you've seen someone you quite liked and you'd like to see them again, but don't know if the feeling's shared. You'd send them a blank text message, or maybe just a really bland one like "hey, good party". If they reply, ask for a date. The first message is almost entirely expressive communication: tentative, deniable.
Matt does a fine job explaining why this stripped-down style of communication is sometimes preferable to more robust alternatives.
A text message love affair gone wrong. "How had we managed to speed through all the stages of an actual relationship almost solely via text message? I'd gone from butterflies to doubt to anger at his name on the screen, before we even knew each other."