There’s a photo that often makes it’s way across social media depicting a train full of well-dress people in their 40′s or 50′s, all of them engrossed in their newspapers. It’s used as a way to say “see, its not so bad, we are all looking at our phones, people have been doing it for a long time!”
Public transportation has never been a great place to socialize. The physical characteristics of the space just were not set up for that — a long line of people, some sitting, some standing, with no way to keep conversations private. Still, conversing is a great way to pass the time.
That’s why the people in Boston have turned to the local web and created BusChat. If you take the 0930 bus from Dudley Station down Mass Ave, simply go to localweb.is/f/mbta-0839 on the browser on your phone and say “Hi”. Other people on the bus are on the same URL, you might have noticed the URL scrawled on the seat or wall.
The URL becomes a place for people on this very bus to ‘shoot the shit’ after a hard day at work. No one is saying a word and everyone is peering into their phone, but they are all posting to each other. The /f/ mean that the posts you make track with your location. This digital conversation is literally moving down the street. If you get off the bus, and it drives on, the content at /f/mbta-0839 quickly disappears.
The riders of the bus are being anti-social and social at the same time. This is how technology an the local web shapes our lives. Occasionally someone will make a joke in the URL and someone else on the bus will laugh out loud. They will look up from their phone, see others looking at them, and briefly acknowledge this temporary shared space they have created. Then they respond with “LOL!”.
We are building the local web and sharing a new way to use it each day. Signup at Localweb.is