“Some time ago, I was watching an old Humphrey Bogart detective movie and it struck me that the fictional jobs of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe would have been a lot easier if they had cell phones. In fact, a lot of those great old plots don’t make any sense at all in the age when you can reach just about anybody at just about any time. It used to be that filmmakers could keep characters in the dark and build dramatic tension just by taking them away from telephones. An actor could pick up a phone and say, ‘The line’s been cut,’ and you knew that ominous music would follow automatically.
“Cell phones, of course, have made that staple scene a joke, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve all learned to use this new technology to its best advantage. [. . .]
“The response by Virginia Tech authorities to the shootings [on April 16] makes the point even more clearly. The proof is that, minutes after the shootings began, blogs started posting information sent by eyewitnesses who used text messaging cell phones and other mobile devices. Many students, however, didn’t learn about what was happening until hours later, and then through a less modern technology — the bullhorn. This was, sadly, a crisis response from the era of black and white movies, not the age of the Internet and IM.”
Fred Thompson, in an ABC Radio commentary April 24