There is little that a personal computer can do that you can't do on a smartphone anymore; I often try to write my posts on it with an external keyboard. Now it's to the point where the Economist actually calls the smartphone "The truly personal computer," noting that by the end of the decade, 80 percent of the world’s adults will have one. The magazine points out how it is changing the world:

The idea that the natural place to find a computer is on a desk — let alone, before that, in a basement — will be long forgotten. Like the book, the clock and the internal combustion engine before it, the smartphone is changing the way people relate to each other and the world around them. 
The phone is key to the whole idea of smart homes and smart cities and what this series is about; it's the interface, the window, the dashboard, the feedback, the GPS locating device. I use it to control my lighting. Others use it to get around with Uber, to find their favorite food truck, to learn when the next streetcar is coming. It's the remote control for our world. It goes far beyond what I foresaw when I started writing that your office is in your pants, and it's serving functions that nobody ever imagined. 

The smartphone is rapidly changing the way information is exchanged on the Internet as well, and it might also change the way you read MNN and the way we write it. 

Media companies used to rely on their users going to their websites… But people are now finding stuff they want to read or watch through Facebook, Twitter and, increasingly, messaging services… Some publications have already concluded that websites have had their day and are now planning to distribute their wares only directly.
I suspect they are right about this. I just asked my 27-year-old daughter when she last looked at her notebook computer and she couldn’t remember. She does everything on her iPhone and tablet while the computer gathers dust. The days of the computer-focused website are numbered, and unfortunately for those of us working in this world, we haven’t figured out what’s coming next.

The Economist wonders if smartphones will bring people together or move them apart. About 30 million people use Tinder daily to get together. On the other hand, when people are staring at their phones all the time, it's harder to make eye contact and talk to someone. The Hollies couldn’t sing "Bus Stop" today — everybody would just be looking down at the small screen — but you can buck the trend and enjoy it in the video above.

I think the smartphone is a huge opportunity to bring us together. I keep an eye on my elderly mother, I send chat messages to my daughter, I have an information drip going all day long that feeds me stuff to write about. I just see it getting better and better. Others are worried that it will drive us apart, that it is antisocial, dangerous, addictive, obsessive and that we are giving up our privacy and possibly our freedom.

What do you think?

Lloyd Alter ( @lloydalter ) writes about smart (and dumb) tech with a side of design and a dash of boomer angst.