Technology Review interviews anthropologist Mizuko Ito. Ito has studied the use of mobile phones for six years and is editor of a new book "Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life". Cell phones are used differently depending partly on the way the technology is rolled out, and partly on the culture of each country. She became interested in studying mobile culture partly because mobile technology use in Japan was being driven by young girls:
It's fairly unusual that teenage girls are seen as technology innovators, so it was a really attractive case for me for a lot of reasons.
In the interview she argues for a kind of culture relativism regarding technological development. You can't really say the United States should feel that they are "behind" Japan when it comes to cell phone technology, because their technology trajectory has been completely different.