SIMsesia – or, how to use a missed call to discover your own mobile number
27 June 2007

I’m coining a new term today. The condition of not knowing your own mobile number should be called SIMnesia. I saw it happen to a couple of world travelers yesterday, and was remained of how frequently I see variants of this scenario:

Say Joe, an American, flies to Sydney for a week or two. Being thrifty and not thrilled about roaming charges, Joe buys a prepay SIM card to make inexpensive local calls while he is visiting. But Joe has thrown-away the box with his temporary mobile number on it, and can’t (or can’t be bothered to) learn how to call up his number on the handset’s OS. So, when his new pal Jennifer in Sydney asks Joe for his mobile number, he hasn’t the foggiest idea. Joe suffers from SIMnesia.

If anyone has heard of another term for this unfortunate condition, please let me know.

Actually, yesterday I also saw how the effects of SIMnesia can be treated using a variant of missed call/beeping/flashing behavior:

While they are standing right next to each other, Jennifer says her number out loud to Joe, who dials Jennifer’s mobile, quickly hanging up to leave a missed call.  Now, not only does Jennifer have Joe’s number–and the chance to make an address book entry with it–but she can then tell Joe. 

This ‘number exchange’ is different than other common forms of beeping: call back beeps, pre-negotiated instrumental beeps, and relational beeps. In this case the message in the beep is the number itself…like the tiniest of vCards. I’m not sure whether I will place a footnote into the next version of my paper on beeping, or actually elevate this to a class of beeping onto itself.

When/if/how Joe commits his temporary number to memory is another question entirely.