Friday 4 June 2010

Driving out into a digital age

This is me: I'm a geeky, early adopting cyclist. Love tech, hate cars.

The former is the future, the latter is the smelly, polluting past. Which is why I've got myself in a frothy little lather about a posting on the eminent and fabulous Streetblog in the States. The piece, by Sarah Goodyear, follows up an earlier article in Ad Age about young Americans driving less as they become ever more seduced by the tippity-tap texting and Twittering of the digital age.

The proposition is that a recent decline in registered drivers amongst younger people is coming about as 'the younger generation increasingly sees a wired lifestyle as incompatible with a motorized one'. Quoting one pundit in Ad Age, Streetblog sets out the case:

"William Draves blames the Internet. Mr. Draves, president of Lern, a consulting firm which focuses mainly on higher education, and co-author of "Nine Shift," maintains that the digital age is reshaping the U.S. and world early in this century, much like the automobile reshaped American life early in the last century.

"His theory is that almost everything about digital media and technology makes cars less desirable or useful and public transportation a lot more relevant. Texting while driving is dangerous and increasingly illegal, as is watching mobile TV or working on your laptop. All, at least under favorable wireless circumstances, work fine on the train. The Internet and mobile devices also have made telecommuting increasingly common, displacing both cars and public transit."

Now, I know the reality of some 'tech' on public transport (such as upstairs on the number 86 from Chorlton) is a yoof playing hardcore rap through the tinny speaker on his Nokia rather than elegant young metropolitans Twittering about Derrida but hey, there's something here that's hugely uplifting, not least because so much of this frenzied 'thumb action' is about connections, communications and social media.

Tune in, switch off and buy a ticket. Fabulous.


  1. Now there is a nice research task for a Masters or PhD student - to map wireless availability across the Greater Manchester public transport network, identify the good areas and flag up routes with poor coverage that need improving. Just a thought....

  2. I have a company car allowance. I have a car parking space. The traffic isn't too bad when I leave work late and drive in early.

    But I take the train. Why? Podcasts, music, sudoku and books. And Twitter.