martes, 16 de octubre de 2012

Our relations with “the others” in mobility (english version)

Writers - tireless observers of our society - have reflected in their works the different forms of sociability which our mobility provides; examples of which we find in novels like “Murder on the Orient Express” or in films like “Titanic”. In these stories the plot unfolds on a journey, the sociability is reflected in the dialogues of its characters as well as the social segregation which the means of transport itself exerts on its passengers. First and second class in the 19th century, in the 20th century the business and tourist classes and now in the 21st century we have the low-cost class…We are collective animals, we live in society and when we move, we do so through her. We are surrounded by persons - like ourselves –who cause us – knowingly or unawares – different emotional reactions, some of them positive and some of them negative. Travelling causes us a change of rhythm, which we wouldn’t have in different circumstances (with regard to the different rhythms we go through, since we get up until we reach our workplace, changes we will feel still more if we are subject to a fixed work schedule which obliges to use collective transport). Another aspect which might influence us emotionally – more or less according to the character of the person – are the short distances. We know this very well if we go by underground, bus or train and more if those are overcrowded. We all have our personal space which in this case necessarily is invaded, by the body heat or by body odour…if we go by public transport we are not only going from one place to the next, we are also travelling through society perceiving in an anonymous but direct way the multiple forms that the human diversity acquires. Mobility obliges us to share public spaces with strangers and here the concept of unconquerable proximity comes up where glances play their role: Brief glances which avoid visual contact or which cross themselves with those of the other person, sideways glances with which we are prying about what our unknown companion is looking at or reading.

I include in this blog a video about the luxury train Andean Explorer which gets to circulate at the height of 4.000 m. In this recording of a private person, I like especially the fact that it reflects the view of a traveller through such an extraordinary society as is the Andina, but from the bubble of a upscale train.

George Amar talks in his essay on “Homo Mobilis” about the personal relations in the transport and more concretely about the co-presence and the promiscuity of the users of public transport, which traditionally has been viewed as something depreciative and which is exceeded by individual or restricted transport where one can decide freely if he or she wants to travel alone or in company.

The division between public-collective transport and private-restricted transport is currently diluting itself, as means of transport appear that transcend the traditional ways. Now there is not only the taxi; the shared car; the public cycling or the car-sharing have overcome this segmentation between the private and public; between the individual or restricted and the collective. Those are changes that have been supported by the evolution of the new information technologies and they are changing our perception of accessibility and connectivity between persons. More and more the social networks are converting themselves in socializing structures which amplify our capacity to get to know far away people and places. These new digital contacts are people with whom we share determined spaces and services in places which facilitate our communication. We should not be surprised about the symbiosis between the social applications and the transport services which need Twitter or Facebook. 91 % of the accesses to internet with a mobile phone are carried out to realize socialization actions (source: Sometimes it’s the transport companies themselves which create their own communication channels in order to facilitate this necessity to get to know each other and to generate sufficient confidence to share the journey with “the other”.

In infographies as for example the one published by the current situation about new ways to share transport means is shown (something that already existed but in a much more rudimentary form, via the traditional communication “mouth to ear”). Today we have different forms to share things in internet which we will see by means of some examples of different infographies:

Peer to Peer (P2P):
Where the owners of cars which they want to rent and drivers who are willing to pay a rent to drive them are made to coincide in the market. Examples are: Whipcar, Relay Rides, Wheelz, Getaround…Organizations which promote the use of a shared car appear like, Bluemove, Carsharing, which establish contact channels by which they reach agreements on a private basis, which allows people to travel together through mutual interest; or another variant which we can find in the nautical field with There are also multiple applications to share information of interest for the drivers like Waze, very much used to localize petrol promotions, information about traffic congestions, accidents, the state of the roads…this information is growing and it is updated by the users themselves.

Business to consumer (B2C):
Refers itself to companies owners of vehicles which facilitate the interchange between its members, its employees or its clients, such as the car producers Peugot, SEAT, BMW, renting companies like Hertz…and car-sharing companies like Zipcar, GoGet…

Not for profit (NFP):
These are organizations without purpose of gain which facilitate the interchange of cars to change the habits of mobility, for example City Car Share, I-Go Chicago, Philly Car Share…

In order not to elaborate too widely in this post I would like to touch only very shortly the systems to share information Machine to machine (M2M). Intelligent mobility services based on Cloud-computing architectures for companies whose employees have a high mobility ratio with a large necessity of coordination, security and control, examples are: AddFleet, Bixpe de Abbanza, the Getaround mentioned above can also be included in this group…

Currently, many people not only connect themselves by personal computer or laptop, but the new mobile devices have achieved that internet travels with us and in turn is changing our mobility depending on the degree of our connectivity. When we hold devices in our hands that permit us to keep talking to our acquaintances, that keep us busy and informed, those devises are changing our perception of the time we need for travelling. Internet modifies the paradigm of “the other” while we are moving, because while on the one hand it approaches us to third persons facilitating us contact in a virtual socialization, on the other hand it shuts us up in a bubble which isolates us from the people at close range to us with whom we are sharing the itinerary. Currently we are making a reinterpretation of the public spaces in which we move – both real and virtual. Are we aware of this change?

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