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iHitch = web2.0 + hitchiking (possibly)
August 14, 2008 7:38 PM   Subscribe

iHitch is to hitchhiking that CouchSurfing is to hotels. iHitch is just an idea, but key technologies (GPS phones, GPS in cars, Web2.0) are coming available in critical mass that could transform 'hitchhiking' into a mainstream, safe, reliable and cheap form of transportation. Some metro area carpool websites have already successfully started down this road.
posted by stbalbach (21 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
What would "Web 2.0" have to do with this? I mean, if this weren't vaporware anyway...
posted by nicwolff at 7:58 PM on August 14, 2008


nicwolff, go have another read, it's not 'vapourware', it's just an idea some guy had.

Nobody is asking anyone to invest anything...


it's the social problems not the technical ones that will be the killer.
posted by wilful at 8:19 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the reason "slugging" has been successful is there is a fairly consistent population with fairly consistent goals i.e. single riders trying to get to work with clearly defined endpoints. You don't have couples, drunks, babies, pets, furniture, people unsure of their destination, etc. as you would with random rides.

That said I like this idea (and have had it myself) but I think it'd work best as a karma-based system, not for $$. The trick is how to allow the driver to schedule pickups, confirm pickups, rate passengers, etc. on a mobile device without running off of a bridge.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:35 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The only, um, hitch (sorry) is that you're still faced with an inherent problem: the reluctance most people feel at letting strangers into their cars. Having spent some time hitchhiking up and down the US West Coast, I know that there are several specific types of people who pick up hikers. They're a narrow segment of the population. And despite the fact that this is a great idea, it's not going to suddenly shift the thinking and comfort level of everyone else.

It very well could be that an idea like iHitch would begin to legitimize hitchhiking, which in turn would allow drivers to feel more comfortable. But we live in a fear-based society. Whether it's right or not, the stranger on the side of the road will always be just that -- a frightening unknown.
posted by not_the_water at 8:58 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


This could be awesome if it took off enough to have communities within the larger framework. A Metafilter iHitch group would be awesome for having company on road trips.
posted by Maisie Jay at 9:12 PM on August 14, 2008


Once you've met the Hitcher, you'll never pick up another.
posted by william_boot at 10:05 PM on August 14, 2008


Oh I dunno, william_boot, the occasional exception might thumb a ride.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:27 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Does anybody know where the US image of the hitchhiker as DANGER-WATCH OUT comes from?
I ask as somebody who's hitched all over Europe and South America, and don't get the "OMG don't pick up hitchhikers" thing that's common currency in the US.
posted by signal at 10:46 PM on August 14, 2008


I'm not sure about their proposed implementation, but the idea itself is great. Lord knows the roadblocks -- tech-glitches, angry taxi unions, taxing issues, and the rogue nightmare users that every social aggregation has -- would be many, and kind of tough to overcome if the iHitchers want to be legit.

The only, um, hitch (sorry) is that you're still faced with an inherent problem: the reluctance most people feel at letting strangers into their cars.

I think this would be much less of a problem than you think: the people participating would already be game. As long as you had a a semi-dependable core user group in a few big cities, I think it could take off. Heck, with some seed money they could pay full-time drivers for the first six months while the good word spreads. Seems like there's enough profit on the IHitch side (cutting out the gas, car, and employee overheads) and the bonus for the driver to get home and say, "Gee, if I keep picking up people and driving them ten minutes, I'd have my gas money taken care of in a cinch."

And the "green" tie-in seals the deal.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 10:59 PM on August 14, 2008


iHitch is a great idea.

A web 2.0 version of Christopher Hitchens would be brilliant. You could click on a button to make him drunker and another one to choose the focus of his rant from Mother Teresa, the Iraq War or how god doesn't exist.

I don't know how you would profit from this, but it certainly has potential.
posted by sien at 11:02 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


So here's my little game scenario question:

I have created X number of bots that will drive around and pick up hitchhikers or they will hitchhike themselves. X is easily into the millions. I have one special bot that I release into the mix. This special bot has an inclination for crime. Let's say it will rob, or rape, or kill (based on a random roll) about 33.3% (again based on a random roll) of the time it comes in contact with another player character.

The question is not whether you would participate, but whether you would allow any of your loved ones to participate?

For me if all else was equal and there was just one guy out there who even had anything but the bet of intentions, then I wouldn't be to happy about letting anyone I know travel in such a manner.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:11 AM on August 15, 2008


It's like a pizza delivery service for raptists.
posted by Optamystic at 1:42 AM on August 15, 2008


hate to break it to you, PoB, but there's already 1.3 deaths per 100 million passenger miles in the US. . . over 40,000 people were KIA on our roads last year, that's 1 out of 7500 people.
posted by yort at 1:42 AM on August 15, 2008


Yort you should also throw in the serious injury numbers. I stopped driving forever after working at an insurance company and having to peruse the serious accidents every morning. I opted out of being part of that meat grinder.

The carnage we accept on the roads makes the Quebec Hockey League look like a good choice of daycare for your toddlers.
posted by srboisvert at 2:27 AM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd probably be more comfortable with hitchhikers if they were people with verifiable identities. Your average homeless drunk probably hasn't got their web-enabled mobile phone working. Committing crimes against drivers would be a pretty bad idea if the system keeps a record "ManiacX picked up by NaiveLady @ 3:12 PM at coords ##.###, ##.###. GPS tracked route number: #######." If the system has billing involved, then that's a fairly strong personal identity requirement.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:48 AM on August 15, 2008


I never understood why hitch-hiking is so frowned upon in North America when in Europe it's everywhere.
posted by Vindaloo at 5:14 AM on August 15, 2008


Having spent some time hitchhiking up and down the US West Coast, I know that there are several specific types of people who pick up hikers.
I'm curious now. What are the types have you observed?
posted by Wolfdog at 5:15 AM on August 15, 2008


it's not real hitchhiking until you get picked up by some truck driver pervert who spends 800 miles hitting on you as you cross the southwest desert. of course, he did calm down after he beat off in front of me.
posted by lester at 5:38 AM on August 15, 2008


the reluctance most people feel at letting strangers into their cars.

Well, per the first link, the idea is there is a reputation system for both drivers and passengers, so that potential riders/drivers can see right away the persons reputation before deciding to pickup or get-in. That's where "Web20" comes in (or whatever you want to call it), similar to the reputation systems on Ebay or Amazon Marketplace.
posted by stbalbach at 5:45 AM on August 15, 2008


I never understood why hitch-hiking is so frowned upon in North America when in Europe it's everywhere.

Probably started with Cockeyed Cook, who murdered an entire family who picked him up, and spiraled downward from there. Our country being so gigantic, we don't have community ties to let us know what sort of people we'll encounter, so we are more likely to rely on media representations. If decent people are scared to hitchhike, and decent people are scared to pick up hitchhikers, well -- the Mean World Syndrome enforces itself.

I remember how stunned and then charmed I was to see kids -- kids! -- hitchhiking in the back roads of Ireland.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:42 PM on August 15, 2008


lester: Yow that beats my worst, got a ride down I5 from Salem OR to somewhere around Stanford in the middle of the summer in a Caddy with a tobacco chewer. Spit into a beer bottle every 10 minutes or so. Incredibly bad smell, but it was summer and the AC kept it slightly below 98F.
posted by sammyo at 4:03 PM on August 17, 2008


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