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Cell Phone Study Suggests People Are Losing Their Wanderlust
Date:6/4/2008

found that most mobile phone users traveled only short distances, although a few consistently moved across distances of hundreds of miles. Also, regardless of whether a person routinely traveled to just five locations or 50, most devoted about 70 percent of their time to just two repeatedly visited destinations.

"Because we only have information as to tower zones, we can't say for certain exactly which location people are going to," Gonzalez said. "But we assume, of course, that the two preferred locations are a person's place of work and their home."

Karen L. Kramer, an associate professor at Harvard University's department of biological anthropology, said that, despite the study's findings that people today are creatures of habit, flexibility in movement has always been central to human mobility and, in turn, human survival.

"As humans, we have always monitored our changing resources and moved about accordingly," she said. "Humans are really good at this, and the ability to do this well -- to adapt our movements to a changing environment -- is really critical to the human success story, because mobility serves as a means to gather vital information about the world. It's our security net."

She acknowledged, however, that as modern "hunter-gatherers" have abandoned the daily tracking of watering holes and food sources, gathering points may have become more localized and reliable.

"If we're living in a city, we go to a job so we can get money to buy food, and then, we go to the store to buy the food, and then, we bring the food home to eat," she said. "So, we're still, essentially, hunters and gatherers. But, of course, if the resources are concentrated, then mobility will be as well."

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To learn more about human mobility, visit The John D. and Cather
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