PRINT October 2003


Steven Shaviro on moblogs

Moblog photographs from,, and

WHEN MOBILE-PHONE MANUFACTURERS started adding built-in digital cameras to their phones a year or so ago, they had little idea what such hybrid units would be good for. There was the usual industry hype—about Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) replacing Short Messaging Service (SMS, or text messaging on mobile phones, enormously popular in Europe and Asia, though less so in the US)—but in fact, the first camera phones were just novelty items, developed simply to keep people buying in a saturated mobile-phone market.

Inevitably, however, “the street finds its own uses for things,” to borrow a phrase from science-fiction writer William Gibson. Camera phones are now being used for a purpose the manufacturers never anticipated: less for person-to-person messaging than for posting instant photos on the Web. Websites like TextAmerica (, Buzznet (, and

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