I travel pretty frequently. If you do too, this might sound familiar. Whenever I fly somewhere, the first thing I'll do upon landing is turn on my phone's radio to send/receive SMS and check email. I'll usually scan Google Reader and/or Twitter while waiting to deplane. Then I'll make my way straight to the taxi line to get a ride into town.
Sometimes, I know the wait will be ridiculous – like in Las Vegas or New York. Other times, it's pretty quick, like in Austin. But there's one aspect of the experience that bugs me consistently – solo travelers like me, taking taxis to the same general location. Sure, I could walk up and down the line asking if anyone's going where I am – but in most places, that just doesn't seem culturally acceptable. Kind of like saying hello to everyone in the elevator of a Midtown highrise. Why? Because there's no real need to engage with complete strangers that will soon leave your proximity. Plus, you don't know what these people are all about.
Enter social technology. The nature of participation lends itself to people willingly publishing personal profile information. So you can get a sense of whether someone's sketchy or not without having the training of a FBI interrogator.
Here's the concept: Do you think we could get a taxi sharing movement started using Twitter?
Two great reasons – better for your travel budget and better for the environment. When I search for something similar
, it appears that point solutions exist for cities like New York. But to make something like this work, you need networks with critical mass – so it's easier to activate the native network with its million+ accounts and hundreds of thousands of active users. Witness ideas like #followfriday
Here's how it could work. Your plane lands. You turn on your phone and take care of essential communications. You search for #taxishare and see if anyone's nearby. Or you tweet your own details, e.g. location, destination, time you're willing to wait until for responses (all times local), and the hashtag. Like this:
- LGA. W Times Square. 9 pm. #taxishare
- BOS. Harvard campus. 10:30 pm. #taxishare
Anyone who's relevant can ping you back with an @ message. You'd just have to run the search 2 or 3 times as you make your way to queue.
By using Twitter, users can check profile information before deciding to respond. E.g. if you're only willing to share with other solo female travelers, you've got some ability to filter. Naturally there are many ways to modify the message string to help.
I could see this being particularly useful next week as SXSW begins. A lot of people are visiting Austin bound for destinations concentrated in the downtown area; many people are also on Twitter.
What do you think – could this work? What are other benefits/drawbacks? Would you be willing to try it out?