Cars and Contemporary Communication| Mobile Canvassing: Individual Addressability and the Move Toward Automated Transportation

Rich Ling


This article develops the concept of mobile canvassing as an element in the eventual development of on-call driverless transportation. Mobile canvassing is the use of GPS-enabled smartphones to mediate a two-sided real-time interaction between itinerant actors in a meso-area—that is, the area beyond our ability to actually see another actor but not beyond a distance that can be traversed in a few minutes. The article develops the idea of the smartphone as a “meso-scope” (e.g., a device that gives us an overview of the activities, services, and possibilities that are in our proximate, but also somewhat distant, vicinity). The article examines the need for symmetrical criticality (the development of a critical mass on both sides of the interaction) in this development. Further, the article considers the use of mobile canvassing apps to facilitate the development of autonomous vehicles.


Itinerant, roving, nomadic, canvassing, smart phones, driverless transportation

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