Get Smart Photo Gallery: Cone of Silence and Other Innovations: I had a fun discussion thread with my colleague Irwin Lazar this afternoon about wifi on planes extending to the use of Skype etc. He suggested some type of "cones of silence" device would often be preferable to active noise control (as in noise cancellation headphones), and it's an intriguing concept.
Having spent a large amount of time on commuter rail trains and in other places where one might hope etiquette and basic consideration would be helpful for those trying to concentrate/meditate/sleep/whatever, however, I'm not very optimistic about future personal communication tool-augmented crowd contexts.
I'm also regularly annoyed by people who laugh loudly when watching movies or the endless, inane television shows commonly shown on airplanes these days -- especially on night flights, when others are trying to sleep.
As a result, I think the cones-of-silence model will be useful in some contexts, but also believe that what most frequent flyers will need in the future is more likely to be a combination of active noise control and heads-up display units with side-blinders -- for visual field control. The social implications are not encouraging to contemplate, but I'm not sure it'll be that different from a planeload of zombies laughing along to "Everybody Loves Raymond" in infinite syndication, with their headsets and seat-back displays.