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Covert surfing

In general, the best approach to using your device as a portable brain is to introduce it into situations that you find yourself.  For example, if you are in the midst of a conversation, just mention that you are very curious about the topic and that you saw something about it on your phone.  Many mobos will in fact pause at this point to see if there is any strong objection.

However, there are situations where you do not want to use your device openly.  Maybe it’s not the right time, or you find that it is easier to use your device without advertising the fact.


You want to use your device, but out of the limelight.  How do you go about this without looking like you are sneaking into the cookie jar?


Find an unobtrusive spot and get going.


Most mobos do not think twice about using their device below eye-level at a table, and doing a quick search while on the can.  After all, they figure, there are no laws against its use and sometimes it is just easier to use the device without going through the introductions.

  1. Turn off the sound to  your device, just in case you stumble onto a site with video or streaming music.
  2. If you are at a table, set your device on your knee (using the same technique as Discrete Tweeting).  Use one hand to enter the request to search, keeping eye contact with others at the table.
  3. When your search is finished, page through the material, memorizing the answers that you received.  Keep in mind that you may need to increase the text size on your device’s browser.  Then enter your next request.
  4. If this is too clumsy, excuse yourself and continue your search in the bathroom.  Do not take too long or your conversation-mates may highly suspect that you are a drug user.  This reputation is a hard one to shake.

If you are asked what you are doing below the table, you can of course act insulted.  Whatever you do below table-level is usually considered private.  Or, you can simply mention that you had to text a buddy back that you were at dinner and could not be disturbed.

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