Musings on Mobility: Day 3

After a few days of interesting and intensive debate with the other project leaders and the fantastic feedback from our fellow TEDsters here at Palm Springs, we are beginning to crystallize some thinking around the entire mobility question.

Perhaps as a starting point, let me give my own thoughts on the subject:
What is mobility? We have had lots of debate around this subject. In my mind we can define this around a number of different “axes”:

– Physical mobility versus Virtual mobility
– Social mobility versus economic mobility

Before we even start to scratch the surface along these axes, perhaps there is even a more fundamental question: What are the basic human needs that are satiated by creating mobility along these axes?

We can start to address this question but even here we need to stratify as the answers are often different depending on the viewpoint you take. For example, the needs that is often different for the developing world from the developed world. Indeed it is very different from a rural context and an urban context. A simplistic approach to this would be to say that “mobility improves the human condition”. I certainly subscribe to this broad approach but for me, we almost need to bring in another TED Project concept into the equation, that of sustainability.

One could argue that creating easy physical mobility is the ultimate solution. After all, what is better than a world where people are free to move around and interact in an unfettered manner? However, that could potentially create a huge carbon footprint and indeed is just not sustainable. Hence we need to get a little bit more granular around this and find a solution that achieves mobility whist being sustainable.

So in my mind, the ultimate outcome would be to use technology to achieve virtual mobility which would be sustainable through a minimal carbon footprint. However, as we all know (and indeed came up in some TED talks yesterday), human beings are ultimately social animals and physical contact and proximity is critical to avoiding the feeling of alienation.

So we can reframe this in this context as follows: We need to take communities from a local context to a global context in a sustainable manner – how do we make communities relevant in a global context whilst minimizing the carbon footprint of mass scale mobility? An obvious response to this would be a greater use of connectivity tools such as social networking. A less obvious response to this would be to create a robust financial inclusion system that brings money to the people rather than vice versa which reduces the need for mobility in an economic context.

I guess where I am going with this is that this is a very complicated question and there is potentially a lot of ground to cover here.

Hence our group decided to focus in on three key concepts/ questions that developed as a result of all the wonderful input from the wider TED Active community:

– How do we empower communities to share resources?
– How do we share mobility needs within a community?
– How do we build collective experiences and emotions?

The third question is indeed the most intriguing. Ultimately we need to satiate the most important human needs as social creatures, and this is indeed about building experiences and emotions. The more difficult part of this is going to be to identify micro actions that can contribute to answering some of these questions. This is where we are now. We encourage you to stop by our workspace and brainstorm with us as we move towards formulating some conclusions.

Udayan Goyal

One thought on “Musings on Mobility: Day 3”

  1. ” How do we build collective experiences and emotions?”

    Build a front porch instead of a back deck.
    Talk to your family, friends and neighbors.


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