Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Dumbwalking, The Sequel

Culture & Technology

In a post on March 27 I suggested a new word --"dumbwalking" -- to describe the glacial and autistic walk of persons absorbed in interaction with their smart phones ("Smart Phones Make For Dumb Walks" being my explanatory epigram). I suggested at the time that the proliferation of smart phones would bring on the day when the Shibuya Crossing would fail to clear.

Guess what?

NTT DoCoMo has posted a video of the simulation of this exact scenario on its You Tube Channel. (Link - video - J)

The result: if the crowd of walkers are all operating smart phones, only 36% of them make it across in the 46 seconds they have between the light changes at the Shibuya Crossing.

Click on the link and watch the video. It is trip -- literally, in some cases.

One key variable, made clear at the 0:47 point of the simulation, is the speed at which dumbwalkers are presumed to perambulate. According to motion studies at the Aichi University of Technology, dumbwalking (the Japanese term is sumaho aruki) is an astonishing 20 times slower than normal walking.

So "glacial" is not hyperbole and one is not imagining things. Dumbwalkers really are moving so slowly they might as well be considered inanimate objects.

Takes the "mobile" right out of mobile telephony, doesn't it?


D said...

Ahh, the Tokyo Duck Walk* as it has been called by a cantankerous grouch who fondly remembers when people used to walk at the pace of a frozen dead turtle. And now it's only 20% of that? Doesn't that mean that dumbho using folks are walking at negative speed? Is it possible? Well, yes. Zen.

I, however, being a the kind, thoughtful type, prefer to look at the phenomenon in a constructive, positive light. Perhaps people are using them to search Google maps for a way out of the TEPCO reject designed Shibuya station. Why, this afternoon I heard a uniformed cop who, after puzzling over the nonsensical signage, had to ask a station employee how to get to the Shonan-Shinjuku line. It's not like someone can just find their way around that place using station information.

Or, perhaps they are looking for the dream application of Tokyoites---an application that allows frustrated, lost commuters to sent a series of electrical shocks to the folks who are responsible for the Shibuya (and other) station mess. The squeamish may consider such a thing cruel, but I suspect that thousand of low-voltage shocks sent up the arses of the doofus crowd who designed the mess would result in it quickly being redesigned in a more commuter friendly way. (The oldest of those might endure for quite a while as they complained that grampa didn't get shocked up the arse, so why should they change just because they are?)

*Why, there's even a song that, rewritten, would give us something to hum as we waddle for hours to get the lat 3 meters to our trains, the finest country song ever written; The Tennessee Bird Walk: http://youtu.be/V7X43Cfowz4

Rob Schackne said...

Here, in the largest city in China, the dumbwalking (which includes the dumbsittingdown and the dumbstandingstill) is now so widespread that most people under the age of 40 are largely oblivious to where they are or who they're with, most of the time. Also, my foreign female colleagues report that waiting to use the toilet is much more time-consuming for them than it normally is, due to all the local occupants who cannot be parted from their devices even as they dump. Part of me just laughs and says what-do-you-expect? But there has to be an upside here somewhere. Sedative? Reduces noise? Makes the rest of us look relatively smart? I'm still trying to figure it out. Cheers.