Sunday, June 20, 2010

opportunity cost of driving

MR quotes Interfluidity saying "I've found smartphones increase the opportunity cost of driving, tilt toward public trans. just me?"

I don't understand. Books have always been available, tilting me towards subways when they are available and not too much slower than driving. And even if your attention span lets you enjoy a smartphone but not a book, there have always been magazines and newspapers. Why would smartphones significantly increase the opportunity cost? The possibility of checking your email, on the off chance your subway has cell reception? Who would want to do that on a tiny tedious smartphone instead of on a computer once you get to work anyway? I think this is an unnecessary and hollow insistence that modern technology isn't so bad for literacy / cultural quality as many people think.

I'm well attuned to the tradeoff with books though. Cars and busses make me so carsick that I avoid being a passenger in them anyway at all costs, and the BART and airplanes are ok but only if staring out the window in the forward direction... but if there's a subway available, or the bus/car trip is cross-country (so dramamine is worth the sleepiness to be able to read), I'll always choose that option so I can read on the way.

Although, books on tape have made driving less costly again. I used to opt to ride with other driving people or let someone else take the wheel for awhile on a cross-country trip, naively underestimating the misery of carsickness, in order to work or read or save gas money, but now I'd much rather pay for the extra gas to drive my own car and monopolize the wheel if I can play a book on tape.

But nonetheless, as with so many things in life, NYC with its 24-hour goes-everywhere subway is really the best of all worlds... *why-didnt-I-go-to-NYU sigh*

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