Archive for the ‘Thesis’ Category

Thesis for Two

onsdag, november 2nd, 2011

It’s the last year of grad school, and it’s time for thesis. Yet, I’m awfully quiet here. Fear not, I’m still making progress! I’m just documenting it elsewhere. As I have decided to do my thesis with my classmate, Carrie Stiens, we had to find a good place to share our thoughts. became our collaborative blog, and it’s filled with reflections and prototypes within the area of urban biking – the theme of our thesis. Right now this is where we’re at in our process (with photos and sketches and all), and we also have a somewhat more formal thesis proposal.

As part of our research we just finished hosting a bike challenge, The King of Two Wheels, for our fellow studio mates. We did this to get insights into different bike personas, and the motivational aspects of getting someone to ride their bike for transportation. The story goes like this:

And here are a few behind the scenes blog posts:

Game Launch
Game Recap
Game Rules

@OhCarolBike – share bike and story

lørdag, juni 4th, 2011

I got this rusty old bike last year to ride around NYC. Tried to be economical, but ended up kinda annoyed by this squeaky, heavy, rusty thing. Yes, I wanted a bike with a personality, but then again, getting from A to B was important too. So I decided to upgrade to a new, fancier bike.

But what to do with this old heavy thing? Most people would just lock it up somewhere and watch it go through a slow death, it seems. But I don’t like to throw garbage around like that. As a matter of fact, it’s not garbage. Yet. This bike will get you from A to B still. If you have some patience. Also, it’s hard enough to find bike parking in NYC, so I wouldn’t let my bike steal valuable pole space either. Sell it, then? Wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

Then I remembered what my thesis area of exploration is. Collaborative consumption. Ownership vs. access. Why not set my bike free for the public to use, and see where it goes? Granted, a small experiment that actually would lead to a bit more trouble than just selling it. But to not try the idea out would be a wasted opportunity, right?

The idea came to me the very day I was traveling back to Norway on vacation. This meant I could involve my Mom and her wonderful laminating machine in the project! OhCarolBike was born:

I don’t really know why OhCarolBike became the name, but I figured all riders could have this happy song in their head while riding:

And no project without an online presence. Inspired by the «Yes I am Precious»-bike, I decided to let the bike communicate to the world. But instead of letting various sensors tweet Carol’s story automatically, I want the users of the bike to tell the story. By using Twitter, users can tweet Carol’s story and her whereabouts using their own twitter account and writing on the format:

@ohcarolbike: [write the story from Carol's perspective]

If @TwitterUserX writes:

@ohcarolbike: I had a lovely ride in Prospect Park. Abandoned on Vanderbilt ave. That pizza from Amorina smells yummy!

Then @OhCarolBike writes:

I had a lovely ride in Prospect Park. Abandoned on Vanderbilt ave. That pizza from Amorina smells yummy! (@TwitterUserX)

This is done by using twitter search, hooking it up to Yahoo Pipes, doing some find and replace to change up the tweet (check this tutorial), then using TwitterFeed to feed the tweet into @OhCarolBike‘s twitter account. Unfortunately this has about a 2 hour delay right now. Looking into why that is.

In addition, @OhCarolBike will retweet whenever anyone is talking about her (#ohcarolbike) or to her (@ohcarolbike) by using the same procedure as above. This retweet is not delayed for some reason.

I just picked up my new, fancy bike today at Ride Brooklyn. They were very helpful with the final details for Carol as well- getting the neon orange flag antenna mounted on her so she’s visible from afar. Then Carol and my new Linus Dutchie said hello and goodbye, before I left Carol behind on Bergen street all alone. Hope someone will notice her, read her story on Twitter, and continue it by riding and writing about it.

Maybe it will inspire others to set their old bikes free as well? The idea of «Set your bike free»-kits definitely appeals to me (thanks, Tina!). But then again, it requires a bit of work and some bucks to get the bike ready for the public, so. I don’t know if the biocost for the average old, rusty bike owner might be a tad too high, compared to the efforts required to just leave the bike locked to that pole for all eternity…

Ownership vs. Access

mandag, april 25th, 2011

It’s getting serious. It’s time for THESIS. It might change radically, but right now I think I want to investigate the idea of ownership. I will explore our urge to own, and which factors need to be present to enable sharing. So. Here is my thesis proposal v.1.0:

To achieve full freedom in life, you must never own more than seven things – or else, they will own you.

I remember this opening line from a TV-commercial from my childhood (see video). A Hindu takes a break from his meditation to tell us this, and he seems at total peace with his life and his seven possessions. Then the scene shifts from serenity to his busy everyday, and he can tell us that everything else in his life, like his flat-screen TV, his fancy fridge, washing machine etcetera, they were all leased from a leasing company called THORN.

With a humorous approach, the commercial told us that we all actually really need these items – even a Hindu with a holy cow as a treasured possession can’t really get by in life without a flat-screen TV. So the commercial sold the dream of luxury and the freedom to choose the latest models. But I remember that this Hindu’s first sentence really resonated more with me than the craving for a fancy flat-screen TV. I don’t think I ever will have only seven possessions, but I dream of a future where we all can get closer to it through using services for sharing, swapping, streaming etc.

For my thesis I want to explore the idea of ownership. What makes us feel like we need to own something, rather than just having access to it? Which factors need to be present for us to be willing to give up our ownership? What characterizes a successful collaborative consumption service, and what is the cultural and business context it lives in? How is the community around the service organized and moderated? How might collaborative consumption, like the use of CouchSurfing or ZipCar, change the people involved? What does a world of products based around access rather than ownership look like?

I believe that the right kind of services can make people think differently about their own life, their neighbors, and the world we live in. They can make us feel more connected to one another, which again can inspire trust, optimism and positive actions. Providing well-designed frameworks for sharing and collaboration could very well lead to behavioral change not only within the frames of the service, but beyond the focus of the service itself.

I would like to research different services that enable sharing and collaborative consumption, explore and compare their models, their communities, and their users. I will choose at least six services from the “Snapshot of examples”-list on the Collaborative Consumption website, and make sure they represent the different categories defined (product service systems, redistribution markets, collaborative lifestyles). Based on the research, I hope to come up with an idea of my own for a service in this area, where I can apply the insights I get from my research.

And when it comes to research, there’s a lot to get through this summer. This list is a start:


  • What’s mine is yours by Rachel Botsman, Roo Rogers
  • The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing by Lisa Gansky
  • Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky

Examples of services for renting, sharing, swapping, or trading of physical goods, time, skills etc: