Commuting != Mobility

Been thinking a bit more on this topic of mobility and the changes that are happening in many developed nations. Specifically, am looking at why there is a disconnect to mobility when there are so many people who commute. What I’m finding is something very simple, that just might be missing in the conversation of all of this tech – commuting doesn’t necessarily equal mobility.

For example, taking a look at some statistics on commuting there are about 128 million people in the USA do so. Inside of that number, 51% of those people travel between 1 and 10 miles (1-5mi = 29%, 6-10mi = 21%, source). Unless you are using public transportation (a smidgen less than 4% of commutes are bus and/or subway), that time is spent in your car, probably alone (75.7%). That’s not a lot of time to be paying attention to an attention-seeking device like a mobile, or fiddling with a user interface designed for touching when you aren’t also being propelled forward.

If there are so many people spending time alone, then where does mobile technology come into play as an enabler towards fostering healthier spiritual transformations? If you will, is there something we are missing in the design of devices, content, applications, and even how we communicate with one another over these devices that might better take advantage of the type of contexts we find ourselves in? For example, shouldn’t I be able to have “prayer mode” on my mobile device that subtly broadcasts a signal to other mobile devices and autos nearby which indicates that while I am traveling, I am also taking some time to talk to the Lord? Or, if I am a bicycling commuter, wouldn’t it make sense for my Bible application to have an audio-reading component that is easily usable either through voice commands or by a larger interface (something like what is found on Nokia’s Car Mode app)?

Don’t get me wrong, I still think that we totally have something to say here towards mobile and modes of mobility. But, I think we’ve been copying the PC/laptop paradigm a bit much, and not adapting the tech’s best use to how we are usually finding ourselves.