The Tech City

Thanks to Leo Reynolds on Flickr for this great Creative Commons photo of hitchhikers in Scotland!

I have recently been witness to the colliding worlds of web and mobile app programming and city planning. Communication technology and transportation have long been studied in unison. A good example is the slow decline of the US Postal Service (with its complex logistics and delivery systems) as more and more people choose electronic communication. The exchange of ideas, people and goods rely on such complex systems.

Since the 1980’s, transportation experts have awaited the day when telework would make a sizable impact on commuting behavior. However, working from home has been very slow to take off, fueled by issues such as employee productivity. Regardless, teleconferencing, remote access, and mobile productivity technology continues to develop, making the inevitable transition less painful.

Ridesharing is another transportation management tool that rarely works well. Websites like zimride.com offer nifty ways to find the date, er, ride partner of your dreams. Even the team that created Zipcar gave a crack at a high-tech ridematching service, creating a facebook application called GoLoco. As much as we want these sites to work, they just can’t seem to catch on. One of these days, one of these applications will make an impact. We hope.

I believe that the best ideas come from between. Especially for arranging collaborative transportation, collaborative development is crucial. Although the website, http://diycity.org, is having identity and growth issues, it is a shining beacon of light in a privatized and siloed world. This is encouraging evidence that the future of our cities may already be found in the wires flowing between our minds.

Want to have your blood boil and your brain blow? Watch the documentary Rip! A Remix Manifesto by the Canadian Filmmaker Brett Gaylor.

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