Ride sharing apps within the 5 discourses:
I found the example of ride sharing fascinating for the fact that it resonates across all 5 discourses of design and illustrates the bi-directionality of the discourses. An artifact, such as an app to connect drivers to passengers, has changed the way transportation is seen.
You no longer need to own any form of transportation if you live in a semi-large city, just a smart phone. We’ve seen uber and lyft dominate the landscape, then came lime bike and bird scooters, and now the emergence of waymo is poised to take transportation to the future of driverless cars. How long until we are being beamed up like in star trek? (Some physic problems may exist to this but we can be sure if they didn’t, there would be an app for it).
The design of this artifact had plenty of its own elements to deal with. A case study posted on medium discussed how the app Lyft used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to create a pyramid of design focused around the user. With aspects like primary coloring representing featured areas of the app like free rides, to how you view and contact your driver, to even ergonomics with where the buttons are placed on the screen to reach them easiest. This has made getting around a completely new and easy experience than in the past. This was a very well designed app, yet I doubt the higher contexts of how this will effect cultures, process, and the systems in which we interact were considered.
Humans need for connectedness: This represents the culture aspect that we experience without really giving any note to it. Our need to be connected and mobile for our resources, not to mention social aspects, puts a heavy reliance on transportation. This need for mobility and covering greater distances than in the past have required easier, cheaper ways to get around when you don’t own a personal vehicle.
The answer has now arrived in the one object that most everyone owns, a smart phone. You can order a ride right to your door and right to the location you desire, without even having to talk to anyone. This has completely changed the process of getting around. In addition to this, it launched into more local transportation where companies such as lime bike and bird scooters can now just drop their product on any street corner, and let users pick it up and ride it while they pay through the app.
This influences processes because now there is no need to plan transportation when visiting other cities. You simply call an uber. Need to go only a few blocks? Hop on a bird scooter.
The system of a capitalist economy of course has allowed this to thrive. This is a new, cheaper option and it has completely shifted how people get around in cities. These companies are quickly replacing most taxi and private car companies and are close to accelerating a huge culture change, introducing driverless cars.
I have recently been involved in waymo’s early rider program, and while I can’t disclose much about it, I see this as a huge innovation. We will soon be in a world in such people will order a car… just the car with no driver, in order to get around there town. There will be no need to drive and I believe it will improve safety on the roads.
This artifact is heaving us into the future of transportation and changing our culture. Yet, the reason the app was derived in the first place was our culture of connectedness and the desire to find an easier way to get around while living further from our city centers.
When I first saw SMART boards introduce I was a freshman and in one of the two classrooms in the whole school to get one (at this time, only about 5 teachers had projectors in their class that they had to purchase themselves, the rest used overhead projectors). I thought “how cool, a board that connects to the internet? The possibilities for this could be endless!” I soon realized however, that it was basically just being used as whiteboard and a way for us to laugh at everyone’s first grade handwriting on the thing.
The problem with this wasn’t a design flaw, it was a flaw in the lesson plan, and possibly the education system as a whole. The board was given to the most senior teacher at our school. I assume that the administration thought that since she had the most experience, it would be easiest for her to implement. The problem here that wasn’t realized is that her lesson plans were mostly set for the past 20 years, with a few minor changes as the years went on. The board didn’t become the device with endless possibilities that we all thought, it was just implemented as a regular board to her, with a few movie clips here and there. It was still just another artifact that would be used for the same processes, experiences, systems, and overall culture to be expressed on.
The problem with technology being implemented in schools usually doesn’t stem around the learning curve of the technology, or how advanced it is, it derives from the lesson plans and teaching style at hand, which in turn is a product of the overall culture of our education system. Our experiences have shaped how we teach and certain modes of teaching have been locked into our culture for hundreds of years. The one teacher, multiple student, lecture style of learning itself is a process that puts certain limitations on lesson plans, activities, and overall creativity. Deviating from the norm with in this style of teaching makes it more difficult to implement changes and overall decreases the likely hood that these changes will be successfully implemented at all.