Peter Tichnell MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2014

On Promoting Alternative Transportation Through Leveraging Participation in Social Media

The current transportation model of America which relies on the single occupancy automobile for the vast majority of daily trips is a significant driver of wicked problems such as peak oil, global warming, and environmental degradation as well as more mundane issues such as parking shortages and rush hour. Part of the difficulty in evolving cleaner transportation strategies is convincing people to voluntarily choose low-carbon transportation options over driving. This thesis project explores the potential for collaborative behavior modification through a social media-based competition. Participants were invited to use alternative transportation for one or more routine trips and post photos, videos, or short descriptions of their pains and gains, rewarded by public praise and the potential to win prizes.

My research tests the efficacy of social media as a tool for outreach and spread of adoption of alternative transportation services directly through user-generated content, and through awareness, discussion and use of these services among participants and their peers. This method’s success is measured by varying levels of participation in each social media platform, the degree and kind of interactions among participants, and surveys and interviews of participants during and after the competition. Continued study and iterations are required to test the longevity of any behavioral changes.

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