Sunday, November 2, 2008


Personal mobility is defined by the automobile as we had come to know it by the end of the 20th century.  But at the beginning of the 21st century, don't we have better things to do than to drive ourselves around?  "Post-mobility" is the notion of taking the automobile and most of what it means for personal mobility and redefining it for a world where a car itself is still a necessity but its value is ever more based on the power of its virtual connectedness than on the power of its physical motion.

The post-industrial era wasn't the end of industry.  Indeed, industry as it came to mark its opening era was simply taken for granted. And postmodernism (whatever it means) wasn't the end of modernism except for the prideful literati compelled to rail against it. And so post-mobility will not be the end of personal automobility, especially individual car ownership. But many of the automobile's other, now over 100-year-old, defining traits will give way to new definitions of the personal mobility appliance.

The ability to move from place to place is basic to animals.  Whether in search of food (or to avoid becoming food), in search of a mate, or to be part of the herd in the case of social species, all animals and even some other life forms make movement a key task of existence. Most creatures rely on their own motive power.  As for so many other things, we humans of course find ways to make life easier, and a quest for easier means of mobility is as ancient as civilization and before. Indeed, the wheel is one of the archetypes of all human invention, ranking up there with fire, clothing and weapons as creative solutions to the challenges of everyday life from time immemorial.

Editor's note: A few years after this short post (on the now defunct AutoProject website), I started a Postmobility 
blog, which further describes the term on its About page. (November 26, 2012)