Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘uber

Pink Fiat in front of Westerkerk.

An unexpected lesson from my family vacation was Uber-based.

Our Uber ride from home to Changi Airport went without a hitch. But I felt cheated once I arrived in Amsterdam.

My apartment host advised me to get a cab or private car from the Amsterdam Centraal Station (the train station at the city centre). I decided to take his advice since I did not have the lay of the land.

When we arrived at the train station, I used the Uber app and received a confirmation almost instantly. However, the Uber driver always seemed to be “one minute away”. I messaged the driver twice to confirm our pickup location, but did not receive a reply.

In the meantime, a host of cabs appeared in front of us as if to mock my attempt to hire a private car. I gave up waiting after 10 minutes and had to pay an 8 Euro penalty for the driver’s time.

I think that the driver wasted my time. I suspect that it was his strategy to make a quick buck — or euro in this case — by being just out of reach, but I cannot confirm it.

So we switched to a cab. I showed the driver the address of the apartment, and since he was not sure where it was, he used Google Maps. I double-checked with him by asking him the distance and time to the apartment, and also looked at his screen. He went the wrong way as he had a similar address, not the exact one.

We pulled over about a minute into the ride and got the address right. I recognised the route as I had seen it in Google Maps previously. I also saw the exact street when it matched what I saw in Street View.

The lesson: Being technology-savvy is not just about knowing how and when to use technology. It is also about working around it. What is often around it are changing circumstances and fickle people. Being savvy is a combination of leveraging on technology to be prepared, to react to circumstances, and to reflect on experiences.

A few weeks ago, my wife wanted to replace her pair of Jays earphones because one side no longer worked. It was as loud a hint about a possible Christmas present as I could hear.

We visited an Atlas store (they sell high end systems like Bose) intending to try a few lower end earphones.

Bose QC20i noise cancelling in-ears by houbi, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  houbi 

 
My wife tried the new Bose QC20i and was hooked. Not only was the sound exceptional, it noise-cancelled the rest of the world out with the flick of a switch.

The problem was these things did not come cheap. They were listed at S$499 at the store with a “generous” Christmas discount of S$20.

I knew that the marked up prices for headphones and earphones in Singapore stores were ridiculous, so I went online.

To make a long story short, I found a reputable seller on eBay who offered a brand new pair of QC20i for about S$150 less. This price included shipping from the USA. The total cost was even less than Amazon was selling them for.

I paid less for the same high quality product by doing my homework online. I wanted buy something and someone else was willing to sell it to me for a more reasonable sum.

A recent article in Today highlighted how Uber matched riders with drivers for a fee and could bypass traditional taxi services. There were fewer regulations and the rider might take on more risks, but the service gave people what they wanted. The writer of that article suggested that the same thing could happen with “students needing tutoring on specific subjects being matched up with professors anywhere in the world willing to teach them”.

Now and in the future, learners can Uber their education. They can find and shape their own education for much less than premium schools and universities are offering. What they create for themselves will be no less authentic, useful, or valuable.

Like Uber, customizing your own education is not a smooth ride at the moment. The incumbents cry foul and push back. But when the dust settles, perhaps a Christmas or three from now, I hope a new landscape emerges: One that allows learners to give themselves the education they desire.

 
Recently I read about the Uber controversy in Korea.

Uber is an app and service that connects people who need rides to people willing to offer rides for a fee. However, it is illegal in most countries for cars and drivers not designated as taxis and cabbies to get money for their transport service. The authorities would cite safety, regulation, and other issues for opposing the service.

Uber has safety measures, a driver vetting process, and anonymous feedback. How many regular cab companies have such tight feedback loops?

The service takes advantage of human behaviour and solves a problem. How many times have you offered to contribute to the petrol bill of your ad hoc or regular driver? There are also never enough cabs where and when you need them. There is a ready solution of drivers with empty seats and passengers willing to pay for a ride.

Even though Uber lists its service here, I do not know anyone who uses it or if there is enough critical mass in Singapore. But I do know that this is how change happens. Often without permission.

Some people like to think of change as orderly and top-down. But this is a false perception and misplaced comfort. If you look into significant social, political, and policy changes, you will find ground-up, messy, and even unlawful processes. Think about the changes behind things that range from the everydayness of Facebook to women’s right to vote in various countries.

Over time the unusual becomes acceptable. Given more time it becomes the norm. But change always seems to start with discomfort or dissonance.

Tags: ,

http://edublogawards.com/files/2012/11/finalistlifetime-1lds82x.png
http://edublogawards.com/2010awards/best-elearning-corporate-education-edublog-2010/

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code


Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

My tweets

Archives

Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: