When a technology makes the critical jump from architectural or furniture piece to handheld device (and there are lots of them- clock towers to watches; communal beer bowls to individual beer bottles; libraries to Web of Science accessed on an iPad) it has a lasting effect on the social relations of its users.

It means shared resources become individual possessions or subscribed services, and activities that were once socially or communally experienced are now personal. It might also mean that public goods become private commodities.

But before anyone decries the loss of community, consider the benefits of indoor plumbing (versus communal latrines or wells) or the non-competitive consumption of electronic articles (versus waiting for a book to be returned to the library).

We may also consider revisiting the social construction of technology to help us understand why the Internet behaves like it does and why we decided to go small in the first place.

In other words, we can retrace our steps and make new decisions about how we innovate and what sorts of values and politics we want our technology to embody.