Defensive driving

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Had an interesting ride recently, and wasn’t sure where to park these “nuggets” (or even what to call them, before I read this nice piece by Tomer Sharon of WeWork). When the decreasing price of entry-level surveillance hardware and data storage meets the increasing making-public of once-private spaces (the backseats of Uber driver’s cars), it was only a matter of time before personalized surveillance setups like this became affordable.

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“Affordable” is subjective, of course – how much you value something determines what you’re willing to pay for it. The driver of this Uber had never been personally assaulted, robbed, or threatened, but after hearing about it in the news, it had been proven enough to justify the investment (he says he doesn’t always have it recording, despite what the stickers might suggest).

His personal safety practice reminded me of another fellow driver who, after one of his acquaintances was harassed while driving one night, became an initiator of a standing “conference call” of other drivers who routinely drive later at night. On a given evening six or seven drivers, males and females in their 20’s and early 30’s, all native speakers of Spanish, will be “hanging out” on the group call. They’ve not all met each other in-person, but all have been personally invited by one of the current members of the call.

Besides making sure everything is alright with their fellow drivers, that driver said the group call helped him stay awake, entertained, and tuned into happenings around the city – a thread of continuous conversation, spun between semi-strangers brought together by the particularities of Uber’s pricing algorithms.

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