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Magazines > Information Today > July/August 2004
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Information Today

Vol. 21 No. 7 — July/August 2004

One Ringy-Dingy
By Dick Kaser

Maybe we just get too old to appreciate new things. Maybe we just get too tired of figuring new stuff out. Maybe it's because we just grow too wise to even want to get near the bleeding edge of technology. Or maybe it's because some new bells and whistles are really best-suited for the young.

These are the thoughts I'm left with after trying to select a cell-phone ring tone that would not only fit with my personality but would project the right image if my phone happened to ring during an important meeting.

As I sorted through long lists of tunes, titles, and artists at various Web sites, I kept picturing the woman who went scurrying from one of our conferences after her phone started to play strains of the immortal Cyndi Lauper song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."

Yes, a lot of these melodies are catchy, but before you select one you'd best know the lyrics that go with it.

I had a tough time selecting a tune myself.

There were lots of familiar ditties and old favorites in the playlists. And although I thought it would be ironically amusing for my phone to ring with Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" or the Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye," how long is that going to be funny?

I toyed with the "Theme from Mission Impossible" and "Working for the Weekend," but what would my boss think?

I considered "Hail to the Chief" (too conservative), "Born to Be Wild" (too liberal), and "Purple Haze" (too '60s).

What's it all about? I don't know.

Industry analysts tell me that the ring-tone market is worth $3 billion worldwide and $140 million in the U.S. this year. They point out that it's all part of the trend toward personalization, customization, and user self-expression. And it's even got some social-networking aspects since these tunes play on a phone and might, one would presume, attract a certain circle of like-minded friends.

Coming from a guy who never changed the default ring tone on his old phone (very confusing in crowds), it should have come as no surprise to me that what I really wanted was something that sounded like a phone.

Just one ringy-dingy would be just fine with me.

Maybe it's because we get too old, too wise, or too lazy to try new things, or maybe it's because some fads are really best-suited for the young.

In this vast world of techno-possibilities, the oddest things catch on and take off.

What is a ring tone after all than just another T-shirt emblazoned with a slogan? It's a way to make a statement as you walk around through life.

And in the end, I guess it's all about human nature.

There's no denying that today's gadgets empower individuals to have a personal experience, to express themselves in the process, and to project their personalities in new and interesting ways. Phones do say the darndest things about their owners these days.

Me? I'm going to keep looking for the tone that sounds like a phone. And when I find it, I guess you can say I'll be making my own statement.

Dick Kaser is Information Today, Inc.'s vice president of content. His e-mail address is
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