To help rural travelers
in defined geographic regions
to be able to share their trips
to population centres,
save $$$ and CO2,
and strengthen their communities.
Rural Carpool's Current Status:
In the hubbub of Launch, I didn't update the Current Status! We are live, and working out the startup bugs --
including some very clumsy Registration processes, that have stopped some folks from finishing their Registration,
or left them thinking that they were already Registered....
That said, folks are registering, and soon our engines will be firing on all cylinders!
Sign up now!
We're still well short of our goal of 100 signups; that said, we do have nearly 40 Member
signups from the Tata/RJ/West Branch/Earltown centre of the North Shore region.
That's almost enough to have reached the necessary threshhold for a viable hyperlocal community.
My concern is that if new Members don't see possibly useful Trips, they'll be less likely to post
their own upcoming Trips for sharing, and then the system will wither, because it can't grow to meet
the needs of the Membership and the community.
This, combined with the need to test and retest the automated systems before we launch, is why I'm setting
Thursday, July 14 as Launch Day. It's a couple of weeks later than I'd hoped, but it gives me a chance to
promote, test, and polish further.
Sign up now!
We have concluded that the legal, regulatory, and cultural forces defining the term "RideShare" means
that we had to change our site name. For example, specific legislation (2020's B222, the "Ridesharing Act,"
for Nova Scotia) use the term "ridesharing" to
refer to for-profit, part-time or full-time online transportation services,
like Lyft or Uber or other car-and-driver-renting services.
Our system, of course, is not that. Instead, it is carpooling, in which the driver and all travelers
each pay their own proportion of the trip's cost.
The vehicle's driver does not make a profit, and is not paid for transporting
passengers. This distinction is important for many reasons.
So: Out with the old name (Rural RideShare), and in with the new (Rural Carpool)!
This change will also save SO much nuisance --
I almost always ended up explaining my project as "just like carpooling" -- then the light of understanding would come
into folks' eyes.
It will require some hours of drudgery, updating all the references, etc. -- but it will certainly be worth it.
We are releasing the Beta version of the site today, and beginning actual promotion locally. Michael will be at the Tatamagouche
Farmer's Market on Saturday, he'll be doing Facebook ads, putting up posters, and email outreach,
all in hopes that he can get 100+
signups so we can go Live in June. That's the critical-mass number we believe will be sufficient to get started. If you're
reading this, and you live in the North Shore of Nova Scotia, see the link above (and below) the YouTube box? Sign up!
Testers are giving great feedback (including LOTS of heavy enthusiasm), and we are listening.
Michael underestimated the need for a viable phone experience,
so we're integrating that into other revisions and improvements.
Looks like mid- to late April, even May for the launch of the real
Hub with real people. The
next four to six weeks we will build toward that goal, which includes:
... and a lot of fine-tuning!
- Viable phone experience on all primary screens
- Sponsored Events and Sponsor Members
- Request a Trip/Become the Driver
- Enhanced Filtering
To launch, we think we need 100 members -- can we promote ourselves sufficiently within the community? We hope so.
Holy cow, what a wild six weeks! And now the Working Demo of a Rural RideShare Region
The strategy of constructing a working community of 100+ fake Members, each with lives and hometowns and Trips of their own, has
been great for testing and development. It's helped us improve the system, by allowing us to analyze
"real fake-world data" as it were, both numerically and quiet experientially -- logging in as different users from different areas
can spark the imagination quite effectively. There is no question that the Alpha system is the better for it.
For the next four weeks or so, we'll be having friends, family, and folks testing it, and giving us feedback to make it better
(You can too!).
Our hope is to gather 100+ real regional Members by mid- to late March, so we can go live for real in the region!
We are assembling all the armamentaria of a modern website, and are still a few cycles away from release. Thankfully, nobody is reading
this, and so nobody's expectations have been disappointed! The Demo testbed that I've generated
is fabulous, and we've been refining it ahead of release
because we can have a "user experience" from a variety of perspectives. All the better upon release.
We are hoping for a super fun New Year.
New data, new plans, new approach -- and a new timetable, all reset in October, and all affecting a cascade of consequences,
mostly for the better.
Additional features, a richer and more interactive demo, as well as life drivers on the part of several key folks,
meant that we decided not to push a crash course to try to get the system operational by Xmas.
So now the target is to get the demo operational by end of December, and have people experimenting with the demo version in January,
with 120 fake Members (with personal data like age, locale, bio, and car make/model uniquely constructed), 3000+ fake trips scheduled,
nearly 1000 fake trips "taken," and much more, ready to be tested. Plus getting all the backoffice stuff like incorporation, promotional material,
and the like ready to roll. On to 2023!
It's looking likely that the primary functions will have been coded within this next week, and the visual design integrated after that.
At that point, we'll be at Alpha, able to use the "pretend to be a fake member" approach (112 unique fake users, each a Driver for
one fake trip per
week, and a shared Trip every couple of weeks) to allow function testing by an array of my friends,
family, and compatriots.
After a couple more weeks of polishing, the Beta version (Nov 1?) of the demo should be able to be Public,
and perhaps we can get a bunch of folks ready to sign up when it goes live, ideally on Nov 15....
Trying hard to be able to help with Xmas travel!
In conversation yesterday about RRS with my friend of 40+ years, he raised one of those head-slapping points
("why didn't I think of that earlier?") around a sense of safety and security when sharing Trips:
provide for Women-only Trips.
And, by definition, Men-only trips. Computationally, if other Members have self-identified their gender status,
it's simple --
a woman Driver, when creating an upcoming Trip into the RideShare Calendar, would simply select "Women Only" as a requirement
for a Trip's potential Passengers;
the system would simply not display Women-only Trips to Members who were self-identified as Men or non-gender-specified Members
of Rural RideShare. The same is true for Men-only Trips. Sorry to
stereotype, but many men would be glad to not have to worry about how tidy their car was, if Thursday's Trip was "Men-only."
Of course the default, in Trip creation, should be open to all
Riders. But giving a Driver that specific control is a no-brainer.
Every single woman I've asked about this Women-only option
has instantly responded positively. This sucks as a symptom of society, and it was because of my lifetime of male privilege
that I didn't design this in, from the first. I wasn't even requesting that data point, in signing up: I implicitly wanted to ignore
Up till now I've tried to architect an inclusive system, of "informed anonymity," with fairly fine-grained user control of one's
personal information, and one's personal preferences.
I'd already designed in a "my favorite Travelers" list that every Member can keep privately, along with its
favorite Travelers" counterpoint list. But I missed that general amorphous state of fear women often feel in close quarters
with male strangers, something that women don't feel in close quarters with women strangers.
So that's that: we'll build that in.
We've also had very interesting follow-on discussions (what about trans folk? what about
gay men who'd prefer the safety of women-only? what about all the other -isms? what about structuring a
system that unintentionally encourages the "Mars/Venus" split
between men and women?).
In the end, the mission is to enable rural people to self-organize Trips,
which includes letting Drivers set
the constraints on any Trip they create. There are plenty of other preferences that might matter:
a heavy smoker, heavy perfume, young children,
pet hair, farm smells, constant talkers, etc. In fact, a "Mostly Silent Trip" request also seems potentially very
RRS's goal is to provide the infrastructure that lets people have a relaxing shared trip, by letting folks be in as much control as
possible of their own data, and of their own Trip experience.
Refined plenty yesterday with my Director of Development. Database model restructured to accommodate the new
refinements in the RideShare model. Those refinements came after working with early RRS prototypes, thinking through the implications,
Most important has been certain watchwords: simplicity, specificity, appropriateness, flexibility, certainty. The Mission needs to be
kept up front. The key phrase in that mission statement is "self-organize."
How does Rural RideShare connect people so they can self-organize the most effectively, with
the least amount of complexity?
I'm very pleased with our solutions. While by no means perfect, Rural RideShare nonetheless does a mighty fine
job doing what it's intended to do. I can't wait to let people try it.
We hope to have our Alpha RideShare Hub (for Phase I) operational for friendly testers by mid-October. We expect to refine
and fine-tune the platform to then become the first Rural RideShare Hub, for release to the North Shore of Nova Scotia
by mid-November -- hopefully in time for helping folks self-organize
Christmas shopping in the larger population centres...!
I'm having a really great time with this project. Not only am I uniquely positioned to be doing it,
I feel like it could make
a difference in the world. Were this thing to take off, the CO2 savings and the wear-and-tear savings, not to mention the
cost savings, could be huge. Saving one kilometer of travel saves 200g of CO2 -- 100 km is 20kg. So, if you RideShare
two would-have-otherwise-driven passengers to
a 100 km round trip, then we've prevented (100 x 20) x 2 = 40 kilograms of CO2 from joining the atmosphere. Add that up
over multiple regions, with many trips shared every day, and the metric tonnes add up fast!
The iconography, graphics, typography, and colours are mostly visually coherent, at least. If, as I hope, Rural RideShare
expands, I'll no doubt get a real graphic designer to make it better, but for now, my decades of work in publishing lets me at
least not make stupid mistakes. Long ago I worked with an award-winnng book designer for several years, as his in-house typesetter.
The parameters of good typographic design were drilled into me.
We are recognizing that a new database/codebase model would give us better flexibility, security, stability, and speed,
especially as we design for scale (1,000+ Hubs eventually). That does not slow down the content development, the refining of visual
elements, the metadata definitions, and the countless details that need to be done to make this a rounded-out platform.
Framework operational; now comes the code work (though not as much for me, this round).
PHP Code framework determined; some troubles getting all the parts working in synchrony. Plenty else for me to do: FAQs to write,
mission statement to craft and hone, all the ancillary material that, in the "writing as a means of discovery" sense, needs to
be written, to clarify the project's goals fully.
Devoted Web server up and running on a "green" hydro-powered server farm.
Up till now we've been sharing documents with Google Docs,
building on our local servers, designing with local files. Basic requirements documents, and requirements narratives, are
increasingly in place. Now we can start getting down to the cycles of prototype/refinement
that will help us understand the ways a Rural RideShare platform "feels" and works. I built all the earlier versions (in fact, my first
prototype was back in 2012, built for a different mission), but now it's being rethought entirely, albeit from an educated perspective
(I like to think).