The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

April 2, 2006

Area codes: Just a number or a clue to who you are?

The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Rappers shout them and phone companies tout them. They're those three little digits before actual phone numbers: the area code.

There was a time when the code had territorial cred - 212 is synonymous with New York City, 312 is Chicago, 213 is Los Angeles. But now major metropolitan areas can have a half-dozen or more area codes - and even those have become portable. Few people change their cell phone numbers as they move around the country.

Experts say with all the area-code splitting, those little prefixes are losing their old meaning, fast. But have they gained a new meaning? Say, a personal one?

Hank Willenbrink, a 24-year-old graduate student in theater at the University of California in Santa Barbara, roams around the area code-heavy West Coast with his hometown 502 from Louisville, Ky.

"People are so mobile that the area code has now become a statement about where you're from, rather than where you're going or where you are," he said.

It doesn't matter where someone lives, you can still be from your hometown via your cell phone, says Andy Kavoori, editor of "The Cell Phone Reader: Essays in Social Transformation" and a University of Georgia communications professor.

"As the global economy changes you need new ways to identify where you're from," he said. "And the area code number is one of those ways. It creates psychological affiliations in place of physical ones."

Paul Levinson, author of "Cell Phone: The Story of the World's Most Mobile Medium", says the area code will soon bleed into the rest of a person's phone number to act as a sort of numerical social identifier.

"We're well on the way to people having permanent phone numbers associated with their name like Social Security numbers are, that will be a more permanent indicator," Levinson said.

Text Only
Business
  • Business US stocks close higher for third day in a row

    Investors drove stock prices to their highest level in a week Wednesday,

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • China’s growth slows to 7.4 percent in 1Q

    China’s economic growth slowed further in the latest quarter but appeared strong enough to satisfy Chinese leaders who are trying to put the country on a more sustainable path without politically dangerous job losses.

    April 16, 2014

  • A look at 3 minority business mentoring programs

    A look at minority business mentoring programs, called accelerators, in three metropolitan areas.

    April 16, 2014

  • Why high oil prices are actually good for airlines

    Airline executives frequently complain about fuel costs. But the truth is higher prices actually have been good for business.

    April 16, 2014

  • Business US stocks open higher; Yahoo soars in early trade

    U.S. stocks moved higher in early trading on Wednesday, extending their gains into a third day. Investors welcomed solid earnings from Yahoo as well as some encouraging news about China’s economy and U.S. factory production.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Detroit strikes second deal with its other retirees

    The city of Detroit reached tentative agreements to preserve pensions for retired police office and firefighters but cut monthly payments for other former employees, key deals that could accelerate the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history, officials said Tuesday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Missouri court expands legal rights for injured workers

    The Missouri Supreme Court has overturned 30 years of precedent with a ruling that gives greater legal protections to injured workers who are fired from their jobs.

    April 15, 2014

  • Immigration activists urge Obama to act boldly

    Latinos and immigration activists are warning of political peril for President Barack Obama and Democrats in the fall election unless the president acts boldly and soon to curb deportations and allow more immigrants to remain legally in the U.S.

    April 15, 2014

  • Farmers off to slow start planting corn crop

    Spring planting across the nation’s Corn Belt is sputtering because the soil remains too soggy or cold for effective seeding.

    April 15, 2014

  • Schreiber Foods schedules Carthage plant expansion

    Plans to expand a Schreiber Foods plant to eventually add 160 new jobs have been endorsed by a Carthage committee working with the company. Andrew Tobish, director of combinations for Schreiber, which is based in Green Bay, Wis., confirmed the project, which he said would be complete by late spring or early summer in 2015.

    April 15, 2014

Poll

The Supreme Court may take up a challenge to an Ohio law that bars false statements about political candidates during a campaign. Do you think false accusations made in the heat of an election should be punished as a crime?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
NDN Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge