# Research Paper: Phone Time

Pages: 5 (1992 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Economics

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Phone Bill

In Figure 1, we see that for the period roughly Nov. 24-2010 to Feb. 24-2011, my average daily usage was about 12 minutes per day, 79 minutes per week, and 295 minutes per month. But since these are averages, this can be deceiving, as we see by considering the usage in more detail below.

Minutes per day is considered in its own question below. But when we look at minutes per week, we start to see there is more variation than what we saw by looking at the averages in Figure 1. There is some significant variation between the different weeks, with a few particularly high weeks raising the average perhaps higher than what a yearly analysis may reveal. On the other hand, these spikes are not likely outliers because there are two of them, and because of the middle scores between the highs and lows. Were all of the weeks closer to 40 except for week 4, we might consider that an outlier and test to see if it was or not. This demonstrates however, that averaged data often clouds rather than clarifies, because seen in finer grain, the differences look more important. There is a trend, or overall direction, which has been falling rather than increasing.

Figure 3. Figure 3 shows some significant variation that is hidden in the averaged data in Figure 1 discussed above. A yearly analysis would reveal if month 1 was an outlier or a more normal occurrence. Since these are averaged figures per month, all the daily and weekly usage is smoothed, i.e. hidden in the averaged figures.

3. Figure 4.

In Figure 4, we see the wide variation in daily usage that is summarized and embedded in the averaged totals in the previous three figures. The highest call, around day 1, would very likely be considered an outlier, as it is twice as high as most of the other readings, but if we looked at a longer period, we may see more like this. In fact removing this high data point affected the average daily call length by 7/10ths of a minute. We see some cyclicality in the evenly-spaced peaks around 30-minute days (days 24, 51 and 86), but overall the trend is flat to decreasing, which means I have slowly been reducing my cellular usage measured in minutes, and bodes well for my phone bill if I keep this in mind when using my phone.

4. Figure 5. The most frequently-called numbers appear in Figure 5, and we can see that for long distance calls at least, there is a small group of numbers that appear more than the others. If the question were phrased differently, we might consider length of time spent logged to each of these numbers, rather than absolute number of calls, and find that even though some of them are dialed more frequently, others consume more time, and as we saw in the class presentation, "time is money," according to Benjamin Franklin at least.

5. My bills only show numbers I called, although I may be able to get that data from my online account. I sorted all the calls by day, and averaged the results, as displayed in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Figure 6 displays some surprising results, in that if nights and weekends are cheaper than regular daytime billing rates, then I could save money by trying to shift my long distance to the weekends, or nights at least, but since these are exclusively international calls, this is easier said than done because the people I call are on different time zones than I am. This conflict where two people share time even though their clocks and calendars differ, points out some of the questions in the class presentation, where a phone call bridges distance and alters perception of time in a very real sense.

6. I was only able to find data for one month's U.S. coverage and that was undated, and one data point is not enough to make generalizations from, or reveal trends over time.

7. My phone bill is broken out into nights and weekends dialed out long distance, and not local calling; and unlimited text. I do have 100 international texts I pay a dime a piece for (9.99 cents, actually), which costs me \$9.99 per month. Likewise my data usage is unlimited, and my phone bill does not reflect the absolute number of texts made. In a sense however, this would be comparing apples and oranges, because while texts are billed per unit, counted as one, two three…regardless of length, phone calls are billed by units of time, and while text messages take varying lengths to compose, the speed of T9 keying is not relevant to compare with interpersonal discussion. Furthermore, calls are billed in batches, like 'under three minutes,' and then by increments that I can almost discover from my own data, and which is probably identified by the provider in a rate schedule somewhere.

8. Figure 7. Figure 7 shows time spent on the phone during U.S. business hours (9-5) in my time zone ("work") compared to hours outside that period, "leisure." We see that as shares of time, I spend nearly three times as much time on the phone outside of traditional work hours, on my 'own time.' Since the data on my phone bill is for long distance and not local calls, most of these are personal, but only to the degree that these calls are not useful at work and school, and maintaining my ability to perform either.

Figure 8. On the other hand, those shares change if we consider absolute number of calls dialed, the majority are still after bank hours but the shares are more balanced. So, I make more and longer calls after work / school hours, these figures indicate.

Really, if I sleep 8 hours, which is probably an overestimate, use 4 hours for personal necessities like eating; travel; and other necessary tasks that support the goals I set for myself like work and school, I find that 12 minutes per day does not seem to take up much of my life, especially when we consider that mobility is increasing every time we upgrade the technology. With the advent of hands-free mobile, we can talk and drive; text and ride the subway; text in informal meetings and the library; and so the comparison of phone use time to 'other' can mislead, if doing the one does not interrupt other tasks.

Whereas our calendar limits the day to 24 hours, we can effectively increase our functional time by achieving higher accomplishment through a multitude of ways. Improved information management, human capital development like training and education; technological improvement by making machines that produce more output per hour; improved management performance, etc. have yielded vast benefits for society over the last few decades, and that rate could continue increasing. Mobile phone connectivity demonstrates higher intensity of activity per units of time, compared to the day when we had to wait for people to get home to answer their messages, and this is no different than a firm or workplace trying to raise the number of units produced through automation and standardization. On the other hand, paying my phone bill with a credit card puts the payment in the future so if I invest that making a higher return, using the credit card actually can pay my cell phone bill and generate profit if I let someone else use the money for that period of time, just like the bank does by lending it to me.

Actually, networks seem slow and limited now if you consider what they will be in an imaginary 'perfect' future: instantaneous. If we think of being plugged in to the degree that we don't have to dial numbers, or keep these records, or even reboot our computers ever, then that would generate saved hours when you consider the scope of a total, global, always-on, real-time network that would make today's networks seem like the old rotary dial-up land lines of the past. There will likely come a day when we look back and laugh at our current technology as simple and childlike, and total, permanent connectivity becomes taken for granted. If the growth rate of the speed of information and communications seems to have been increasing, making everything seem faster, imagine when there is no down time at all, and the whole world becomes one interconnected thinking machine that is permanently integrated with everyone in virtual real time. Distance will effectively disappear, and if we accept that this brings social and individual benefits, why not let that increase without constraints?

Time has meaning in different ways in different situations. A great many tasks are not appropriate for this type of productivity growth but still and may always still take time to complete, which gives time meaning when we would like the outcome to materialize immediately, but are denied. Biological processes have to happen in certain orders,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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