the best way to predict the future is to create it
it’s pretty clear i didn’t follow up my initial blogging enthusiasm. there’s a number of reasons for it, none of which are particularly interesting.
today i twittered that i am “frustrated that the future isn’t here yet… feeling it’s partly my own fault.” . this was prompted by an article in the guardian describing the future of london’s bus services . i also watched the video introduction to nokia’s conceptual design of ‘morph’ – a fascinating device which would interact with the environment around it in ways unimaginable using devices available to buy today .
so how to we get from where we are now via london bus to morph? not like this:
“The priority is to get all the buses equipped, then we can start thinking about what we want to do with the real-time passenger information.”
knowing what products to build on the data so people can have the best possible experience is non trivial and i don’t expect TFL (on their own) to get it right. however, knowing what to do with the data is a complete no brainer: set it free and let people help you create the right products.
the first thing london bus plan to do with the data is to have a spoken announcement every time the bus is approaching a stop. i hope they reconsider. why go with something so intrusive from the outset? why not start by putting the next stop on a scrolling LCD or TV screen only? why not allow people to decide the best way for them to access the data themselves?
personally i’d love an application that allows you to use a mobile device to select the stop you want to get off the bus, then it interrupts the song i’m listening to or beeps my mobile phone whenever i’m one stop away from the destination. i could also share with a friend that i’m meeting the unique identifier for the bus that i’m on so they track the bus and know when i’ll arrive with them. that would be beautiful. for me. will TFL think of me and build that application? no. but by keeping the data to themselves they prevent me from building it for myself and sharing it with others.
a closed system distances a company from their own customers – who are the people that know best what direction and products they should be focusing on.
openness creates the potential to interact with services and our environment how we want to – which improves services and makes me a happier customer.