Published on June 2, 2007
DOPPLR DOPPLR Travel & DOPPLR Where next? Where next? Where next? Serendipity How personal informatics are engineering coincidence, lowering environmental impacts and forging a new golden age of travel Matt Jones Hello, I’m Matt Jones. Amongst other things, I’m the design director of a service called “Dopplr”.
Human? The theme of this year’s Reboot - “Human?”
“Voyage, travel, and change of place impart vigor” Lucius Annaeus Seneca So - Why travel? Seneca says...
Travel is something we seem compelled to do as a species. To trade, to experience, to escape.
Travel was, after all, something that was special, exciting
Travel was exotic...
...and a pleasure in itself
Now, for most of us, it’s something quite dierent.
Travel = Broken
This is a clip from an Australian satirical/topical comedy show called “The Chaser”. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3grHjibNdA&NR=1
Also, most of us are worried about the impact that travel, especially air travel is having on this place.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow- mindedness.” Mark Twain So, should we stop travelling? I would say not, but we have to ﬁnd ways to maximise the eficacy and pleasure of travel for minimum impact.
Let’s Unbreak It When we ﬁnd something broken, a typical human response is to use our technology and ability to think in systemic ways to ﬁx it.
I want to show you a little movie for a minute or two... It’s a timelapse movie of a modern shipping port. What’s making all this possible? Information technology. This is a clip you can see here: http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=wu_4uNCxtJI
Standardisation and automation - around things like the shipping container allowed all the eficiencies and massive scale that information technology could bring to the global transport of goods.
For more on this revolution - read Marc Levinson’s “The Box”...
I’m not suggesting we literally slavishly copy the successes of container shipping...
But we’re in the throes of two major mega trends that might also mean we can take advantage of personal versions of those informatics to redesign travel. The world is becoming digitised, and humanity is becoming urban. As you can see by this picture by Timo Arnall, this is something I’m a little obsessed-by, and have spoken about a lot.
Source: United Nations, World Urbanization Prospects, The 1999 Revision. It is expected that 60 percent of the world population will be urban by 2030, and that most urban growth will occur in less developed countries.
The world is becoming a mixed digital/physical place. Things and environments are becoming suffused with information. Bruce Sterling’s Shaping Things and Adam Greenﬁeld’s “Everyware” - guides and manifestoes for the world of digital/ physical hybrid things and places we’re entering...
Travel & Serendipity
22 This growth in personal informatics I believe (with many others, as detailed in those books) will lead to many downsides - seen and unforeseen - but also a large upside, in the increase of serendipity in the world... (poster from ICA exhibition 1968)
What’s Serendipity? What is serendipity?
“Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer's daughter.” Julius Comroe Jr.
DOPPLR DOPPLR DOPPLR Where next? Where next? Where next? I want to illustrate some of the things I’ve been talking about by showing you Dopplr, a service for frequent travellers that I’ve been working on over the last few months.
Dopplr is an online service for frequent travellers. It was created by an international team of world travellers as a tool for our own use. We liked it so much that we decided to open it up to our global friends. If you travel more than ﬁve times a year and have friends who do as well, then Dopplr is for you. How does Dopplr work? It lets you share your future travel plans with a group of trusted fellow travellers whom you have chosen. It also reminds you of friends and colleagues who live in the cities you're planning to visit. You can use the service with your personal computer and mobile phone.
Here’s my page on Dopplr. You can see that I’m in the throes of my trip to Copenhagen for Reboot. You can also see that 25 of my fellow travellers (what we call people you trust to see your trip plans and vice-versa) are going to be there too.
I can expand that to see who they are - also, if I have fellow travellers I know who live in that city.
You can click on the tabs to get dierent views, such as this nice “indiana jones’ style view of your travels...
Dopplr is city-centric, so clicking on Copenhagen shows the view of your fellow travellers from the point of view of the city, so to speak...
We’ve just gone to our Beta release this week, and added some new abilities for our users. This is our ‘manage connections’ view, where you can see how you are connected to your fellow travellers. Here you can ﬁnd whose trips you can see, who can see you trips and new travellers on Dopplr that you might want to share your plans with. Notice that you don’t ‘add’, ‘remove’ or ‘deny’ anyone in Dopplr - you’re sharing a stream of information about the future, so you just stop, start or even ‘mute’ that stream to or from someone. More polite we think.
The ‘new travellers on Dopplr’ view brings you a list of people that your trusted fellow travellers have invited - just one degree of separation away, allowing you to discover common acquaintances you might want to share your trips with. It’s worth again stressing that you share your trips with people you trust, and there is no pressure to share back if you don’t want to.
One last thing while I’m giving you a tour- we’ve got a blog which will have announcements, design discussions and more on it.
DOPPLR BETA DOPPLR DOPPLR Where next? Where next? Where next? So that’s our Beta release. It’s always going to be invite only, but you can request an invite from http://www.dopplr.com. We will be restricting our invitations from time to time while we continue to build the service, so please be patient...
Some stats since we’ve started On any given day, around 10% of our travellers are in transit. The average traveller lists 4 or 5 trips. 215 different cities are listed as home by our travellers. Top 10 home cities: London, SF, New York, Helsinki, Boston, Paris, LA, Seattle, Barcelona, Tokyo But as you can see from this ‘sparkline’ of Copenhagen, Reboot has made quite a spike!
Dopplr Theory In the last part of my talk, I want to very quickly connect some thoughts together that we had in our mind while designing Dopplr, and the theme I started with...
DOPPLR is about the future, which you can’t DOPPLR automate (yet) DOPPLR Where next? Where next? Where next?
DOPPLR is a catalyst, creating possibilities DOPPLR DOPPLR Where next? We see our focus Where next? use information you share as a catalyst to increase serendipity as letting you within your network next? Where
DOPPLR tends DOPPLR towards simple benefits, instead of “features” DOPPLR Where next? ‘Feature Creep’ is a constant temptation when building a system. We’re trying very hard not to add new features - instead, we’re trying to make things easier, more powerful, and more ﬂexible for our fellow travellers. Where next? Where next? We prefer to talk about adding ‘affordances‘ - additions and improvements to the tool-like aspects of the service that amplify the beneﬁts of using of the service and our end-goals: increasing serendipity in the world around your travels.
DOPPLR is a feature of a larger service, called the Internet DOPPLR DOPPLR Where next? Yes, it’s simple - perhaps just a feature... of a larger system called “the Internet”. Connected to my last point we’d rather plug into and hand-over to all sorts of other parts of the web that do what Where next? they do brilliantly rather than loose focus on the prime beneﬁt we bring: increasing serendipity. The Where next? image of a Coral Reef refers to Dave Winer’s analogy he used here: http://www.scripting.com/stories/2007/04/28/ twitterAsCoralReef.html
All very wonderful, but how does this lower the impact of our travel on this place...?
LET ME MAKE THIS VERY CLEAR!!! We should be under no illusions that the best way to reduce the impact of our travel on the environment is to just not travel as much. Services like Dopplr build a model of your future, allowing you to reﬂect on that model - and perhaps ﬁnd ways to cut back. For instance...
... you might ﬁnd that your coincidences in that model of the future with fellow travellers reduces the need for other planned trips - get in touch with them and move a meeting to when you’re all in the same place.
We’re going to work more and more on tools and visual aordances that highlight coincidences and increase serendipity, to support this.
Another possible way we can possibly reduce the impact of travel: information can shrink distance. This is an anamorphic map of europe deformed by travel times on the high-speed rail network. Knowing this, having this model, would you change your plans from ﬂying to using the train?
We’re showing near-neighbour places in Dopplr so you can choose to visit near-by places or combine visits to reduce trips. Here’s some information on neighbours of Brighton, should you really want to visit Slough, ever...
We have some other plans for helping travellers reduce their environmental impacts that will be coming soon, but in the mean-time we’re also going to be releasing an API to Dopplr to allow others to develop interesting new ways of using their personal informatics.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust So - our hope that is through examining travel through new eyes we can in some small ways help forge a new, responsible, sustainable and pleasurable golden age of travel.
DOPPLR DOPPLR DOPPLR Where next? Thanks! Where next? Where next? http://www.dopplr.com http://blog.dopplr.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Travel & serendipity How personal informatics are engineering coincidence, lowering environmental impacts and forging a new golden age of travel
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