What we can learn from a bike?

There is literally nothing that the Dutch won’t do with a bike. Here’s a short list of things i’ve seen people carrying around Amsterdam: the shopping, a large bunch of tulips, a dog in the wicker basket on the handlebars, a guitar, a girlfriend on the rack at the back, a trumpet, three dining room chairs, a kayak, a girlfriend on the rack and a housemate on the handlebars, a double bass, a newborn baby strapped to the chest, three children perched on assorted seats and cross members, a ladder and, my personal favourite, another bike.

The ubiquitous bike

Bikes are simple technology, but robust and ubiquitous. What can we learn from their effortless facilitation?

The bicycle is, it must be said, both ubiquitous and versatile. At a mundane level, it’s used to travel from A to B, but it’s also a symbol of status: Dutch city bike (sit up and beg) or racer, mountain bike in gleaming chrome (very rare here, the ‘norm’ back home) or antique steel steed, part steel, mostly rust. Bikes are used for fitness, for work or just for pleasure. BMXs are used to entertain, whilst everyday bikes are decorated with paint, plastic flowers and baskets as fashion statements and for protection against theft. Oh yes, and they’re use to carry stuff. Everything in fact.

As a technology, bikes are cheap, agile, flexible, repurpose-able, easy to maintain and everywhere.

Now map this out across other technologies: home computers may be ubiquitous, but they’re a pain to maintain. Anti virus software, memory issues, configuration errors, you have to be an expert to run one. But mobile phones and iPads? Well, you can’t carry the girlfriend out on one, but they pretty much match all the other criteria. Used for work and pleasure, fashion statements, configurable around the core functionality, whilst retaining a robustness of core engineering (e.g. you can change the wallpaper). Ok, so they don’t make you fit. Except that they do assist in it, with Nike running apps and BikeTrack cycling ones, Ski tracks, things that let you quantify your progress.

Successful technologies are fluid, they fit into our lives seamlessly. They support our performance, they make us able to achieve more. That should be at the heart of any learning technology: not making us learn systems to do things, but letting us do what we want to do better through seamless technology.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Adaptability, Aesthetics, Agile, Apps, Bike, Cycle, Effectiveness, Innovation, Learning Technology, Mobile Learning, Usability, Utility and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What we can learn from a bike?

  1. Pingback: Centres of learning: books, libraries, enhanced content and learning communities | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  2. Pingback: 9 questions to see if your organisational view of learning is broad enough | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  3. Pingback: Uncommonly Global | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.