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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:51 am    Post subject: Footwork Reply with quote

Speaking of driving (but not of cellphones just yet), I recently emailed some futurists. These guys were going on and on about future transportation. Of course it was all hydrogen cars and fuel cells. But the basic vision was two ton, four wheeled apparati propelled by some technology requiring pipes, tanks, and most of all payment to get it going.

So, I said, hey, you're missing a lot of trends there! What about, for instance, genetic biotechnology and the new nanotechnology of very strong thin films (nanotubules). Just suppose, instead of thinking about more "fuel efficient" cars, we were to make sure that the next generation of human bodies could easily jog a mile. And they could do that, say, after an hours rest.

Well -- that would entirely change the whole metrics of transportation. Instead of having to have cars for short trips -- we would jog. Instead of having to have bus stops every 250 feet...we could place them so there was one within a mile of everyone -- less stops, less cost.

And for light rail it would be a boon. You could blanket a whole city with just a few stops, and people would just jog to them.

In effect, cars are basically wheel chairs. They are no different than real wheel chairs or rascals. Most people today hardly even walk. The go to their car, to their desk, to their car to their sofa. We are congested by huge, fuel eating wheel chairs.

We need to address the source of problem. The human body needs to be able to adapt to living in the modern suburbs and it can't be done by just wrapping ourselves in composite fenders and macpherson struts.

We need legs.
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The car as wheelchair metaphor works for me. Certainly, in terms of
McLuhan, the car is an extension of the foot. The image of strapping
a car around your foot always makes me grin, at least a little.

The bio-engineering angle leaves me a little cold, and I'm not sure
how nanotubes fit into this, but concerns about peak oil and global
warming lead me to conclude that, for one reason or the other,
people in the US may have more reasons than ever to become
less dependent on their "wheelchairs".

One of those fold-up scooters (a powered skateboard with handlebars)
could become popular: ride it the mile to the bus/light rail stop,
fold it up and go on your way. We need the technology to make these
light, compact, and have a, say, 10 mile range before recharging.

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