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Monthly Archives: June 2001

Sapient sanitizes for the slowdown

Sapient have redesigned their site. In the main it’s clean, effective
rebrand and refresh of their site which hadn’t changed for around 2
years.

Apart
from the (whisper it) pop-up windows enclosing Flash case-studies (with
a neat little scrolling mechanism that I expect to see pinched by some
other sites pretty soon) – the real story is how they seem to
have renosed and restructred the firm to boost the technology and
‘straight’ consulting offerings and demote or even downright hide the design and creative offerings.

You can’t find any overt reference to brand, interface, information or
graphic design. “Design” where it is mentioned is with a small ‘d’…
part of the technology lead “value creation process”. To be fair, this
is couched in the language of ‘human-centricity’, but again, it’s
played down.

There doesn’t seem to be anyone on the list of senior officers who
represents the creative community at Sapient. The nearest I guess would
be Rick Robinson who was (is?) head of the experience modelling
discipline (the anthopologists, strategists and researchers who carry
out user research), and Clement Mok – who I assume needs no
introduction – who is now in some form of non-executive advisory role
(!!??!)

It’s a bad time for the e-consultancies, and Sapient are
fairing better than most (even with some fairly hefty lay-offs) – they
have been consistent in having weathered other storms and changes of
favour by re-inventing themselves for the market – but the lack of
faith in Design with a big, 72pt, bright-red ‘D’ as a creator of value for it’s clients I find faintly depressing.

And I don’t work there anymore.

Sapient: Home

Dan Sturges’ “Community Mobility”

This originally reached me from Bruce Sterling’s Viridian Design
e-mail list, but Dan states at the top he’s okay with it being spread
far and wide… so I’m stowing here for my (and your, whoever you are) ongoing pleasure. Saw Dan speak at the AIGA’s Collision conference a year ago and I talked to him about carfreelondon. He’s amazingly passionate and insightful about what he does.


COMMUNITY MOBILITY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

By Dan Sturges, Director of Mobility, frog design

Dan Sturges cheerily remarks: My partners and I
created the first Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) in
the U.S. Built 700 of them. Went bankrupt. Then a guy
bought the tools to build the “B9cars” from the bank for
$100K or something and sold the company to DaimlerChrysler
for $35 million last year. I’m a freeware guy! Share
“Community Mobility” all you want!

The Family Vacation, 2010: Mom and Dad hop into the
CityEV and head for the Neighborhood Mobility Center.
Normally, Mom uses the CityEV to commute, but as
subscribers to their neighborhood’s Mobility Club, they
consign the little car back to its fleet of subcars. Why
pay for a car they won’t use for two weeks? At the
Mobility Center, they pick up the roomy minivan they
reserved online last week. It’s one of several
conventional, long-range vehicles available to Mobility
Club subscribers.

While there, Dad picks up a delivery at the facility’s
E-Dock. It’s camping equipment and supplies that he
ordered last week via the Internet. Then Mom and Dad drive
to the school to pick up the kids, and the vacation
begins!

The above scenario illustrates the many overlapping
benefits of the new and growing concept of Community
Mobility. For everyday errands and commuting, the family
uses low-cost, eco-friendly vehicles that are easy to
park, as opposed to a high-priced, gas-guzzling SUV.
Whenever they need a larger or more specialized vehicle,
they reserve one online from their local “car-sharing”
center.

There are no big delivery vans rumbling through their
neighborhood making noise and emitting gas fumes.
Instead, one van makes one stop at the E-Dock station to
deliver packages for everyone in that community.

Sounds reasonable. And yet while alternatives to
conventional modes of transportation have been talked
about for 20 years, only now have the elements for a
successful and comprehensive car-sharing system been
realized. This collection of elements, known as Community
Mobility, is growing ever more plausible, thanks to the
widespread and growing use of the Internet, new wireless
technologies, and the vision and cooperation of some of
the world’s largest technology corporations.

What is Community Mobility?

Simply put, Community Mobility links existing modes of
transportation (bikes, buses, light rail) with new
mobility concepts (subcars, car-sharing). This offers
individuals and communities a viable alternative to
conventional car use and ownership. If comprehensive
systems of Community Mobility were integrated into US
suburbs, the negative effects of cars on air quality,
energy consumption, land use, economics and civility could
all be greatly reduced.

A highly attractive alternative to conventional car
culture, Community Mobility provides greater ease and
convenience at lower cost than the current automobile
“monoculture.” Based on six innovative approaches,
Community Mobility is a near-term solution that could use
existing technology. These approaches include:

1. Telecommunications
2. Mobility Centers
3. Vehicle Sharing
4. Subcars (NEVs, eBikes, CityEVs and others)
5. Smart Transit
6. E-Docking Stations

1. Telecommunications

The prevalence of home computers, cell phones and PDAs,
and the emerging wireless technologies, make many things
possible today that were inconceivable even 10 years ago.
These tools enable new ways of moving about in the world,
by arranging things remotely beforehand.

2. Mobility Centers

Conveniently placed in neighborhoods or downtown areas,
these inter-modal centers bring Community Mobility
elements together in one location. A car-sharing facility,
an E-Dock station, offices for telecommuters, and links to
public transit are managed as an integrated unit. A
Mobility Center is a gathering place where neighbors often
meet face-to-face, much like the post office or general
store in small-town America.

3. Vehicle Sharing

Instead of owning a bulky car or SUV, you merely rent it
for the time you need it. Daily transport is handled by
small, low-cost electrics. “Station cars” combined with
public transport can abolish the need for giant parking
lots outside train stations. Switzerland currently has
the world’s largest car-sharing system, serving 800
locations and 40,000 members. Several other European
countries have successful car-sharing programs, and in the
States, Portland, Seattle and Cambridge have joined the
car-sharing club.

4. Subcars

Sixty to 70 percent of all trips made by single drivers
are five miles or less from their home. Small electric
vehicles are far more suitable for such trips than large
cars and trucks, which spew harmful emissions and cost
untold fortunes for fuel and upkeep. For trips within a
15-mile radius of home, a CityEV is ideal, since it runs
at 50 and 60 miles per hour and meets all car-crash
standards for highway travel. These low-cost subcars can
be custom-designed for specific regions or climates,
offering regional manufacturing opportunities, and
promoting economic development within the community.

5. Smart Transit

Now that a majority of people are familiar with cell
phones, mobile PCs and PDAs, both public and private
transit can reach new levels of genuine convenience.
Tiresome waiting at a bus stop should become obsolete,
since commuters can know in real-time where the bus, train
or private transit coach actually is. With a web-
connected PDA or cell phone, and GPS-wired transit
vehicles, people can take charge of their own time. Smart
Transit also lets travelers link to station cars, reaching
their final destination with greater ease. Smart Transit
is an area of incredible growth and possibility that
promises more efficient mobility for all.

6. E-Docks

Have you ever had a note from FedEx or UPS on your door,
saying they tried to deliver a package when you weren’t
home? That was a wasted trip for the delivery vehicle.
Worse yet, it also requires you to then make another trip
to their central facility to retrieve the package.

With E-Docks, the delivery companies make one stop per
neighborhood. Someone is always there to sign for your
packages, which you then pick up at your convenience (for
less cost than home delivery). Four new E-Dock concepts
are being tested now in California. A bank of automated
locker boxes have been placed in select transit stations.
Commuters can exit the train at their station and proceed
to their locker box for their packages. The locker’s
number and combination has been e-mailed to them by the
delivery company, earlier in the day.

The new architecture of the sacred and sublime

Yesterday was sat reading an article in New Scientist
about Neutrino detectors, which had an truly awe-inspiring picture of
the underground structure full of 1000 tons of heavy water and studded
in photomultipliers. Suspended far beneath sub-artic Canada and
dwarfing it’s attendents, it’s a cathedral of cosmology.

Later that afternoon, I saw The Dish,
a gentle comedy about a rural earthstation’s part in the Apollo 11
mission. That was full of gorgeous shots of the eponymous dish,
scooping up signals from the sky.

I also remember an advert for BT featuring Stephen Hawking that used some spectacular helicopter-shots of Goonhilly.

What is it about these pieces of engineering that is so inspiring and moving, beyond their scale and technical accomplishment?

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