Ethan Tussey


On his book The Procrastination Economy: The Big Business of Downtime

Cover Interview of February 04, 2018


There is a tendency to blame mobile devices for many of our contemporary problems. It is too simple to blame mobile devices for the decline of communication. I believe that focusing on the procrastination economy reveals the complexity and variety of mobile device use. Understanding the specifics of the procrastination economy can lead to policy and practices that make the Internet operate in favor of inclusiveness, democracy and community. Indeed, these devices bring opportunities for communication to places where socializing is discouraged and limited.

Certainly, the algorithms used by search engines and the design of social media platforms personalize online content and can easily contribute to an echo chamber effect, but the examples of the ways that people interact with the procrastination economy demonstrate that the drive for community is strong. Whether it is the co-workers using their mobile devices to illustrate a point in a conversation or the community of gamers finding camaraderie in their shared ability to build elaborate virtual cities in their in-between moments, the procrastination economy contains examples of interactions that would not be possible without mobile devices.

Accounting for the procrastination economy will be especially important as the Internet of Things, augmented reality technologies like Pokemon Go, and location based services like SnapChat proliferate. These emerging Internet products and services provide digital content that change our experience of particular spaces. The assumptions and strategies developed for mobile devices will provide the foundation for this ubiquitous computing. My book provides evidence of the institutions and audience practices that will shape this future.