Supporting Online Elicitation for Deliberation of Public Transportation Concerns

Michael Patrick, B.A. University of Washington Department of Geography

Abstract: Qualitative methods inform the design of a participatory system in two ways; the generation of system requirements and enabling large groups of public participants to use qualitative methods themselves as ‘participant researchers’ to self discover their own value systems. This then allows the incorporation of these multiple personal perspectives and realities into deliberative discussion of major transportation infrastructure investments. Discourse analysis, content analysis, and textual analysis along with multiple forms of participant observation were used to identify key aspects foronline interview techniques and evaluate their application for deployment via the Internet. Deliberative processes deploy across varying spectrum from macro-scale societal paradigms down through group discussion process and eventually grounding in the individual’s own statements of belief. Discourse and content analysis is used to derive a discourse typology to identify the roles and transformations of information in the system, to expose the mechanisms of authority, social interactions and knowledge building. This typology is used along with textual analysis of online venues to select the most appropriate communication genre. A framework for addressing the multiple geographic scales of not only traditional coordinate systems of location and time, but other axes of values and representations is suggested to coherently position and relate concepts occurring in the initial interview and following deliberative processes. A purposeful elicitation method based on that framework that accommodates the cognitive and epistemological processes of the individual is proposed that can facilitate self discovery and provide rich source material for group processes, while neutralizing and mitigating undesirable influences. Two examples of a transportation concerns elicitation interview using this structure are compared; one highly structured using Internet Instant Messaging and another using semistructured conventional face to face. The IM interview was condensed into narrative form and concept maps generated using NLP/STP (Natural Language Processing / Shallow Text Parsing. By using geo-demographics; an typical transportation concern was extrapolated to the regional population and spatially located using GIS.

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Origins The origin of my research question is based on the need for increased public involvement in decisions about major investments in transportation infrastructure. Transportation planning historically has been based on a fundamentally technical perspective – improvements have been initiated based on massively aggregated statistical data on traffic flows and projections based on census statistics incremented at decade intervals which feed mathematical models 1. Research Question The research question is motivated by the number one research objective of the PgisT (Participatory Geographic Information Systems for Transportation) NSF research grant project 2, which is “What Internet GIS design will satisfy information requirements for public participation in analytic-deliberation process contextualized by a capital improvement decision situation?” This is basically a Participatory Action Research scenario. Design and provision of such a software system to enable the collective intelligence of the public to address major transportation infrastructure investments through a deliberative process requires ‘qualitative’ approach in two ways. The first part of my research question is then to identify the system influences, aspects and metaphors to generate design requirements using critical discourse analysis and content analysis before defining patterns and architecture, and grounding these in relevant theoretical frameworks. The second part of my question is how to capture the individual viewpoints and values of a large group of hundreds or even thousands of people and then enable the individuals themselves to collaborate as “participants as researchers’. This also involves scoping tools and utilities to permit visualization such as participatory concept mapping. State of Knowledge These two parts of the research question indicate our current state of knowledge to even conceive of an effective Internet participatory system is in doubt, the first because of the governmental and institutional momentum of planning transportation systems, and the second because of the social construction around software technology development. The first issue is mitigated some-

3 what by a recent shift in planning and engineering thought, which is moving away from massive monolithic transportation projects towards multiple lifestyle behavior, targeted custom provision to specialized consumer markets – an evolution which began occurring in the free enterprise market place when Ford started offering different models and colors than the standard black Model T. The second issue can be mitigated by examining existing social science theories and building down to the code instead of standard business software workflow analysis and models. Confirmation of the first issue can be found in the decreasing feasibility of large scale expansion of existing infrastructure and the increasing recognition that behavioral mechanisms are the only effective means to decrease demand. This has created an emergent need to examine the preferences and value systems of individual transportation consumers. Rather than macro level region wide models, transportation models are now shifting towards micro level ‘Activity Based’ studies which more accurately portray the mode shifts and trip behavior of individuals in much smaller geographical areas 3. Also, there is an increasing need to address all transportation options as a unified system, rather than as separate systems of mass transit and highways, for instance. The process of gathering individual preferences is inherently a more ‘qualitative’ exercise than the ‘quantitative’ approach. Scaling such a qualitative approach to accommodate hundreds or even thousands of participants across a large metropolitan region and normalizing the data so that it is useful for use in planning and engineering is most cost effective by leveraging the Internet to communicate with the public. Confirmation of the second issue can be found in the irony of noting that while the personal computer and network communications first became ubiquitous in the early eighties, there is still a severe deficit in effective networked collaborative environments. This is almost certainly due to the fact the users are forced to conform to the technology, and that the various forms of online publishing and communication are more based on technological mechanistic needs of computers and the convenience of software designers than any real basis in how ordinary people communicate and construct knowledge. The software application metaphors such a ‘desktop’, ‘e-mail’, ‘documents’, and ‘folders’ are superficial glosses on what are fundamentally rigid hierarchical computing structures 4. This is readily verified by the common experience of attempting an e-mail discussion with more than one person. In short order, the profusion of “RE:RE:RE’ in subject lines and mutually invisible ‘CC:’ s and topic drift render confusion and disconnect rather than clarity and collabo-

4 ration. The explosion of various forms of Internet venues such as newsgroups, listserves, blogs, and forums seem to generate even more divergence and complexity rather than convergence and simplification, these seem to enable the power of the author while diminishing the ability of the reader to make sense of it all. Application of qualitative methods can provide insight into these two issues 5. In the first case, critical discourse and textual analysis can identify the significant social spheres of discourse, power relationships, and information channels. These influences in turn can be used to identify and prioritize the discourse and argument structures in play, and then these can inform the appropriate metaphors needed to identify the important aspects of a system through content analysis. In the second case, participant observation can inform the appropriateness of these metaphors and aspects, and comparison of similar structured interviews can validate the effectiveness of online in comparison to face to face (F2F) techniques. Influences and Ethical Issues Qualitative methods, especially from a feminist perspective can also identify key ethical issues embedded in a large scale technology based collaborative system. Since the system is conceived as a public system, for use by ordinary people, as academics and technicians we are primed to propagate existing positivist philosophies and potentially ignore the issues of ordinary users. Academics and software developers whenever possible build on the knowledge structures and schemas of others before us, respecting and citing the current conventional wisdom of our field, and our tendency towards specialization may cause us to ignore the potential contributions of other academic fields. Also, it is unlikely that the systematic knowledge of the average person maps onto the existing highly technical institutional representations of the transportation network. Further, even the notion that there is some statistically ‘average’ or ‘typical’ transportation consumer ignores the specialized needs of individual persons and subpopulations 6. When members of the public are asked to make decisions about transportation, these will be based on their own beliefs rather than institutional scientific data, and it is their individual multiple perspectives and value systems will influence any decisions. A feminist perspective can expose our pride and extensive technological knowledge that blinds us to the obvious realities of our current software systems, and lead us to build yet another house of cards on top of another that is already falling 7. It has been observed that if commercial airliners were engineered to the same reliability as personal computers connected to the Internet,

5 80% of those airliners would be filled with passengers sick from Ebola just before aircraft itself exploded. Our software systems and communications are provided be corporations with their own economic and power agendas which rarely align with the needs of typical users. Software is all about power, and it is so brittle, complex and delicate that it can rarely accommodate changing realities and emerging conditions. Also, any Internet based participatory system will be fundamentally affected by ‘Digital Divide’ issues. Since the access is via the Internet, this predisposes a certain population with technology provision and familiarity with online genres of communication, which can seriously under-represent certain populations because of economic class, age, and minority status. Even if the individual has Internet access, their level of comfort about privacy engaging in any process that explores their personal lifestyle around transportation will impact recruitment and process. Educational status will have a serious influence; the process also requires a certain level of literacy, the expectation that the participants will generally compose complete sentences and perhaps short paragraphs. Most of all, a person’s attitude and patience will be stressed by the seemingly repetitive nature of the questions. The other influence is that the geo-demographics reflects their residence, and says little of their space time trajectory, place of work or other aspects of their experience. Resources The primary resources needed for my project are already present in an academic environment – ready access to a widely varied selection of journals across different academic disciples, access to the campus network for connectivity and applications. While these preliminary structured interviews could be accomplished with existing IM clients, the software to analyze and generate the natural language processing from the transcripts was beyond my skill level and required the assistance of an external programming team. Another key resource was volunteers to participate in the interviews and provide feedback on the techniques. The most important resource was access to the variety of my fellow researchers on the team, who provided critical feedback, discussion, guidance and reading suggestions and the support of my principal investigator for the grant. Introduction and background Designing any software system is, in the beginning, a qualitative exercise. The main difficulty was shear breadth of the subject – transportation touches every person and institution at all

6 levels of society, and affects environmental, economic and equity issues. In a corporate environment, one first looks to the market of the enterprise, external to the business itself, because the system also needs to account for interactions with vendors and customers and regulatory agencies. Only then does one turn to examine the internal business model. In the commercial sector, these forces are essentially economic and objective in nature, and directly reflect to the products and services of the company, describing a ‘value network’. The architect relies on qualitative methods to discover these via examining corporate documents, conducting interviews, writing use case narratives and building user stories. These yield the overall patterns and aspects. The goal is to establish a compelling metaphor – an analogy common to both the architect and customer that resonates with the activities being performed. The use of metaphors is compelling because it allows the users to communicate their activities readily in ordinary language, and the metaphor can provide the beginnings of structure for the system. The software development effort had no compelling metaphor to guide progress. While this conceptual path works well in a business environment, it rapidly hit the rocks when applied to a public system because the users were everybody and the subjects were diverse, and the roles obscure. Critical discourse analysis and textual analysis of the public discourse about transportation was attempted to identify the spheres of discourse, reasoning, and the channels of communication between them. This analysis examined multiple sources: institutional, agency, and NGO documents, news media articles, editorials and letters from readers. Several examples culled from this analysis provide insight into dividing the public sphere and relating those parts to public participation. A discourse typology was then derived from these insights, and the system described according to the discourse spheres and information channels between them. The Public and the Politics in the Puget Sound Recent major transportation projects in the NW have a dismal record of success. Recently citizens of Seattle voted to short circuit the conventional government process and undertake a multi-billion dollar capital transportation project, the Monorail, outside the existing governmental institutions supposedly responsible for transportation improvements 8. This came up for several public votes before finally being scrapped because of cost over runs and a steadily increasing perception of unrealistic cost benefit ratios and distrust of agency management. In another case, when the state legislature with rare bipartisan cooperation passed a significant capitaliza-

7 tion funded by a gas tax for transportation projects based on the recommendations of technical experts and planners, a swift and overwhelming grass root counter narrative appeared, culminating in an anti-gas tax citizen initiative. When we examine what was said in the media, the issues and themes were more emotional than logical, and a reaction not against the projects themselves, but rather a backlash against the institutions themselves. This citizen initiative with 14,000 volunteers collected more than 420,000 signatures in 32 days to place the measure on the ballot. Initiative organizer Ron Carlson stated in the Seattle Times 9:
“Opponents of the initiative admit they're stunned (and to be completely candid, so are initiative supporters). But what does it all mean? … People aren't ignorant about transportation. In fact, they understand it probably better than any other issue. Why? Because they travel every day. So does everyone they know. They see what their taxes are buying. They talk about it with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers on a regular basis. People aren't trying to have it "both ways." The oft-repeated claim that the public is demanding improvements it doesn't want to pay for is simply not true … People are angry because they're not getting what they paid for. What people want is one thing: congestion relief.”

These examples demonstrate that the complete failure of politicians and various special interest groups to address the public’s perceptions and values. We can look underneath at how this hegemonic condition occurs by examining the membership, minutes, and recommendations of the January 2000 Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation 10. The membership included most of the typical political elite and vested interests, with only two members from so-called ‘public interest’ groups (labor unions with their own vested interests), and notably ‘Public Opinion’ was last on their agenda of 16 items and was barely touched on. Although this group did an extensive review of everything from freight mobility to studded snow tires, the only public input was from a very narrowly focused telephone multiple choice stacked deck survey of 800 voters. Still, it was noted in the minutes by the Chair that:
“… it is hard to know what will cause people to believe their government is efficient and how best to shed light on efficiency issues. The perceived detachment from government does not help, and he questioned how we can instill a sense of personal engagement – the equivalent of a community roofraising – for transportation improvements.”

It was then recommended that the state add a ‘theme’ to their public relations messaging. How to relate to the public was discussed in very condescending terms:
“… The presentations led some to wonder if there was a disconnect between the public perception and the reality. It was noted that the speakers had only presented one side…. Some expressed the opinion that these objective criteria might prevent small, passionate groups from unduly influencing the process in their favor … Since the public has a limited appetite for specific details, it would require significant effort to tailor a message that frames the issue in appropriate terms. … It would be helpful, however, if these costs could be put into terms that people could readily understand.”

8 It is interesting to note that this gas repeal initiative by a close margin nearly imposed the public’s ‘reality’ by slashing available funding by 60%, and what most people complained about not having enough transparency in the process ( in other words not enough ‘specific details’). The panel recommendations only described the public input as related to the specific agenda items of the commission – not what the public thought was important. Overall, the commission’s recommendations barely mentioned ecological issues and totally ignored equity issues. An examination of the Washington State Department of Transportation 11 web site for public outreach reveals one outreach effort to form focus groups in response to the failure of Referendum 51 in 2003 on three subjects: A potential ‘better driving habits’ advertising campaign to reduce congestion, the use of tolls and HOT lanes and the update of the Washington Transportation Plan – these three topics are two mice and an elephant. WSDOT spent $70,000 to gather 98 people participated in 10 focus groups. The notable point here is that while most corporations spend from 5% to 15% of their total budgets on market research, this agency spent only $70,000 to gather public feedback information on tens of billions of dollars on capital improvements for upcoming years. Compare this three order of magnitude difference to what a local company spends on discovering the public’s needs and communicating the value of their products and services to the public ( Sales and Marketing) in this area 12:
“S&M ( Sales and Marketing ) Spending as a Percent of Total Company Revenues - We asked our survey respondents to tell us the percent of total company revenue they spend on “all forms of sales and marketing,” and we found that the overall average was 20.7%, with half of the companies in our sample reporting S&M spending between 12% and 26%. (As a point of reference, Microsoft currently spends 18%-19% of its revenues on sales and marketing.) The real surprise, however, is that company size and product price seem to have almost no impact on this ratio.”

The only other means of public engagement is the ballot box during the multi-year election cycles – the equivalent of driving a car and only being able to steer only hard left or hard right only for a few seconds on the freeway. The antagonist relations brought forward in this latent content analysis reveal three important spheres of discourse within the public sphere, each with their own argumentative style of knowledge production, and the information channels which link them – The Executives, the Technical Experts, and the Public Participants. Argument Theory (AT) Public policy formation has, at its core, the critical discussion of potentially conflicting value systems during deliberation, and how those values eventually expressed as public policies. Martin Wachs and Joseph L. Schofer
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in “Abstract Values and Concrete Highways” note that the

9 semantics and ambiguity of high-level abstractions of “Values, Goals, Objectives” are difficult to translate into specific policies and plans, but there is a need to go still further, beyond the semantics of the terms themselves to examine how the communicative processes present influence the epistemological processes in the public sphere
14, 15

. Recent developments in the area of Argu-

ment Theory provide a means of developing a typology of discourse for the information spaces and transformations occurring between these discourse spheres while engaging in public policy formation, and a means of characterizing them. Also, a refinement and definition of deliberation itself and relating it to discourse was needed, and it needed to be related to practical planning situations. There is much written at the abstract level of ‘Communicative Action’
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and competing models of consensus, conflict, and
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competition, such as “Agonistic Pluralism”

and more other, more open frameworks

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. All

have roots in Searle, Grice and Austen and so all or any will require addressing the details of theory around how people engage in discourse in public forums, and specifically in computer mediated communication genres on the Internet. Argument Theory provides a means of linking societal discourse and identifying a potential theoretical model for reconciling these larger societal discourse spheres with the communications of individuals engaging in deliberation In Coalescent Argumentation 19, Michael Gilbert reconciles the varied schools of thought in Argument Theory into a more overarching view, including the three historically important AT approaches: Perelman‘s New Rhetoric, Toulmin and the DWC Model, and Naess‘ Precization. These have informed later approaches, the Dialecticians, Grice and the Cooperative Principle, the Speech Theorists, E. M. Barth’s Formalism, the Informal Logicians, Communication Theorists, and recently Feminist contributions. Reviewing these models reveals three that can be assigned to our spheres of discourse – the Rhetorical, the Logical, and the Pragma-Dialectical. We recognize that Rhetorical as the dominant tradition constructing the discourse sphere of our politicians and public administrators ( the classic ‘debate’ format ), that formal logic dominates in the positivist objective technical discourse sphere of planners and engineers, and the Amsterdam School around Pragma-Dialectics has specific qualities which align to the discourse sphere of ordinary citizens. These three argument modes (Rhetorical, Logical, Dialectical) can be used as the basis for a typology for examining the public policy discourse and demonstrate how these fundamentally different methods of discourse cause inevitable disconnect with publics’ perception, epistemology and reaction to transportation policies.

10 Towards a Discourse Typology Each of these discourse spheres has a dominant (although not necessarily ‘pure’) quality of argument mode and content semantics. The hierarchical nature of their respective information spaces and decision support also differ markedly. The ‘Executive’ (EX) sphere which consists of the policy and decision makers such as politicians and top-level administrators relies on traditional ‘rhetorical’ mode, the ‘Technical Experts’ (TE) who are the engineers, planners, scientists and technical folks that operate in a ‘logical’ mode, and the ‘Public Participants’ (PP) use ‘Pragma-Dialectical’ mode ( See Figure 1). The discourse channels inside and between these spheres have significant differences. The sequence, origin and destination and return of the transformation loops between the spheres is significant because it represents the power to control the frame, meaning, and content of the discourse, and hence the production of knowledge.
Order 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Channel PP PP TE PP PP EX PP TE EX PP TE TE EX TE TE EX EX EX Argument Theory Modes Pragma-Dialectical Logical to PragmaDialectical Pragma-Dialectical to Rhetorical Pragma-Dialectical to Logical Rhetorical to Pragma-Dialectical Logical to Logical Rhetorical to Logical Logical to Rhetorical Rhetorical

Figure 1. A typology identifying the discourse spheres in the public sphere, directional discourse channels, and importance to a public participatory system.

Figure 2. Transformations between modes of Discourse and priority order for application in a participatory software system development analysis

This typology now permits placement and critique of the communicative artifacts and processes utilized during policy formation, such as surveys, elections, media, etc. and some selected policy documents related to Puget Sound transportation policies. The control of the information

11 channels also gives insight into the power relationships by assignation of content production and consumption, that of author and reader. For example, currently there is little public deliberation as information flows between the Executive discourse sphere and Technical discourse sphere and the public often can only begin its discourse after a specific project is well along the design path, with a consequent generation of lawsuits as the means of engagement. Focus on the Pragma-Dialectical This Discourse Typology now allows important system architecture decisions to be made. Clearly, if our participatory software system was to serve the public participants, the primary information channel is purely based on Pragma-Dialectical meaning production, and the secondary information channels involve transformations to and from the Logical and Rhetorical to the Pragma-Dialectical. Our project can not possibly address either the purely Logical or Rhetorical channel, or the information transformations between them, as they essentially happen behinf closed doors. Paraphrased from Gilbert, the Pragma-Dialectical approach for modeling argument interactions relies on the actual practices and assertions of two or more persons arguing in a situation, as opposed to an describing the argument as an ‘artifact’. The approach is ‘pragmatic’ because they are concerned with the practical task of arguing and dialectic because they see argument as a social process occurring between two arguers. It is based on Austin's and especially Searle’s notion of speech acts
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. An argument is composed of individual speech acts that taken collec-

tively form a single speech act complex that establishes meaning. While this approach somewhat ignores accidental or emotional effects, it does incorporate conditions of felicity, sincerity, recognition, satisfaction. This approach attempts to provide a model for argumentation while incorporating standards of rationality and orderliness. The major drawback to rigorous application of this approach is that it ignores "elaborations, clarifications, anecdotes, and side-lines" which will also have important information and meaning. While much argument simply does not follow a sufficiently routine process to allow the identification of the requisite components for speech act identification after the fact, this is can occur au priori within the constraints of a software system if it based on speech act production.

12 If the Pragma-Dialectic approach is adopted for modeling the participants’ interactions, what follows is a description of the elements using Speech Acts. Also, since it promotes the interactions in the Participants’ discourse sphere as a social activity, it allows us to seek existing analogous venues on the Internet in order to extract important aspects of Speech act complexes using qualitative methods. It also implies that existing content from other discourse spheres on the channels must be transformed in order to be accessible to such a process. Most important, this provides a powerful metaphor to guide the system architecture: that PgisT is essentially at its core a ‘Conversation’. Reflection While it was gratifying and exciting to finally have a useful metaphor, this metaphor met extreme resistance from my cohort on the research team. And rather than use the metaphor as the guiding principle and basis for re-factoring and future design, already existing schema and processes were merely superficially labeled with matching terminology. Also, this approach meant software tools and applications which were well beyond the domain knowledge and experience of the team – Natural Language Processing and Computational Linguistics. Also, since my educational background was primarily in engineering, physics, and math, and I had never taken even the most basic English class, I was ill equipped to further this line of research. These factors all denigrated my theoretical ideas to a ‘hunch’. Also, the conversational

functionality was positioned as ancillary supporting activity rather than as the core conceptual model providing the spine for the entire information trajectory of the system. In retrospect, at this point I became an outsider to the rest of the team. While I observed and accounted for their work in my own design, there was very little synthesis with the other’s activities. However, despite these negative impressions, an enthusiasm set in from the realization that my approach addressed major flaws in existing conceptualizations of collaborative software systems. Online venues and Communication Genres Rather than a standard computer ‘application’, the system architecture should be based on Computer Mediated Communication, which is potentially much more successful, because people are fundamentally more interested in interacting with other people than yet another computer application. Also, while it is extremely difficult to reconstruct meaning and context after the fact, it is almost trivial to preserve conversational structures which allow reconstruction and further processing. To identify the significant aspects of the system, a manifest content analysis of exist-

13 ing online venues such as Blogs, Forums, List Servers, Chat Rooms, and Portals and communications genres such as E-mail, Instant Messaging and SMS/Text messaging (See Figure 2 a b). This examination yielded a partial list of characteristic aspects which will influence the system design.
Personalization – Can the messaging be formatted and timed for the convenience of the participant. Unitization – How long are the messages, how excerpts and quotes from previous messages are displayed and structured. Organization – How are messages and replies displayed in the view, how is quoting handled. Community – Are the same participants present over many topics over time, do they address each others posts, do they ask questions and help one another. Intimacy – Are the participants known to each other, how is identify and anonymity handled. Proximity and Presence – How are other users’ synchronous activities visible. How is identity expressed through profiles and posts. Affinity - How is attention managed and filtered. How are other discussants with similar interest and views identified, do divisions and sides appear. Technical Proficiency – How difficult is it to learn and navigate the venue or genre, and gain useable competence. Obligation – What is the perceived effort to read, interpret, and respond to respond to a specific message. Coherence and divergence - Do people keep to the point, is it easy to track discussion threads and identify stimulus response pairings. Regulation - How do the participants and the system encourage good behaviors and discourage / sanction improper behaviors, are the rules explicit in an FAQ or are they implicit. Author, Editor, and Reader – The relationships and linkages and control. Persistence – How long does the discussion last. Immediacy and Latency - How fast and how many replies occur. Mediums – Are other forms of content beyond plain text used, such as images, sound, video and how is external content linked Dissipation and disposition – How do discussions grow, branch, and terminate, the availability of archives of past discussions.

Also, I acted as a participant observer, lurking in some, briefly participating in others, and established a well founded identity in some. Using e-mail and IM I experimented with discussing transportation issues both with single persons and groups (See Figure 2 c). Instant Messaging emerged as the preferred ‘genre’, but the only corresponding ‘venue’, the chat room, failed substantially in many aspects, especially coherence. My participant observation was problematical on many fronts. Was my ‘Rationale’ for using IM interaction as a pattern … really just a ‘Rationalization’? I am an expert computer user, technically proficient, a long time user of Instant Messaging for work and social purposes. I also enjoy the instant gratification of feedback and its ease of access on my desktop. To mitigate these issues I used autobiographical recollection of three examples of introducing people to instant messaging and my observations of their adoption behaviors and their learning curves. These were a middle aged fellow student with rudimentary computer experience in the context of a joint class project, a senior citizen collaborating with me on the PgisT team, and a nine year old

14 boy I was tutoring. All these were selected because they had significant barriers which would inhibit their use of the IM. Additionally I sought quantitative market statistics on the overall adoption of IM applications and registrations, both for personal and corporate use. However, only an actual ad hoc structured interview experiment would validate the utility of IM patterns to the system design.
Figure 2. Content analysis in Internet venues and genres to identify aspects of online public discussion

A..Mass transit discussion on a newsgroup “alt,transportation.roads” on Google Groups Beta

B. Forum discussion on Slashdot about the implications of tracking automobiles via GPS

C. Instant Messaging conversation on Microsoft Messenger about personal experiences around traffic safety

15 Structure for the Interview Since we are attempting to capture the individual’s perceptions and attitudes about the transportation system, a concern elicitation strategy must be grounded in some cognitive theory. Also, it is desirable to remove the influence of the researcher from the resulting responses as much as possible.

A. Schematic of Lakoff’s Cognitive Linguistic Models

A. Idealized Cognitive Model of Transportation Concerns

B. Subordinate, Basic and Super-ordinate levels

B. Direct experiences related to language

C. Progression from the individual to larger scales Figure 3: Estate Space with Economic, Equity and Ecological
axes scaled outward from the individual citizen.

C. Temporal schema for concern formation Figure 4: Progression of Lakoff’s theory during the elicitation process, Participant’s ICMs are discovered which are then progressively examined in a framework.

16 Meanings in language change with time, scale and other contexts. The relationship between the language of the participant and their own expression of language needs to be addressed. According to Lakoff
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, our use of language is a reflection of Idealized Cognitive Models (ICM)

formed from our individual experiences, that the semantics of concepts expressed in language use falls into three general levels ( super-ordinate, basic, and subordinate), and that these ICMs are fundamentally based on special metaphors. Since the platform is reliant on the Internet, the primary mode of language use will be plain text. Since these ICMs are experiential, the questions in the elicitation must progress from the person themselves outward to larger and more abstract concepts to expose these three levels. Another experiential guideline is to ask questions that require relation of direct sensory and emotional experiences. People are confident in what the see, hear, smell, touch and feel emotionally, and evoking these together aids recall, as opposed to inquiries which require abstract ideas and interpretation. This guideline also generates the names of specific objects and locations. For instance, people would be very descriptive about their own bus experiences but have less basis of addressing the same question region wide without some au priori information or training. To provide an attribute structure for establishing the context of the responses for later aggregation with other individuals, a geospatial framework is used to structure the introduction and progression of the questions from the initial concerns put forward by the participant. This framework is essentially a generic coordinate system involving various aspects of sustainability. While the complete framework involves multiple ‘Spaces’ of Purview, Estate, Location, and Topology, only the Estate Space involving axes of Equity, Environment, and Economics is used for the concerns elicitation in the interviews. This framework was derived from Stilwell’s
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frame-

works consisting of three triads defining the relationship between economy-society-ecology, market-state-community, and the local-national-global scales. This was unified and expanded into a structure for the elicitation interview. The interview follows the basic conversational patterns put forward by the Rubins 23, where the interview is constructed as a conversation (albeit via an Internet genre metaphor such a Instant Messaging) rather than a business form. Previous responses to ‘main questions’ are used to generate further “follow up questions” to extract more detail. Using the Internet conversational metaphor has many advantages of automatic logging and replication of the same protocol to many people in parallel.

17 This framework provides contextual dimensions of the constituent concepts within the interview discourse and be conceived as an n-space ‘volume’ composed of related 'Spaces' of Purview, Estate, Location, and Trajectory. Here, a ‘Space’ is defined as a conceptual area reserved for some particular purpose, independent of it’s constituents, which will allow the production of extended meanings. These 'Spaces' are separated by underlying models for representation, and include the spectrum between the objective and subjective. Each 'Space' can further described as mutually dependent axes that allow the discourse concepts to be unpacked and situated in relation to other concepts. The centrality, the upper/lower limits, and distribution of a concept's volume can be determined along the various axes. The dimensions of particular value concepts can then be extended in relation to the entire framework, and placed in relation to other values. The 'context' of a particular value can then be related to other values to produce a value network or concept map. The attempt here is not to achieve mathematical rigor, but rather to allow relationships, gaps and linkages to be identified or discovered. These contexts can then be further refined using a soft systems theory approach to identify the values, goals, objectives and criteria. This eventually provides a means to derive hierarchies such as decision trees from a particular perspective to apply decision support techniques. Elicitation Strategy The elicitation strategy has eight basics stages. The first requests the basic information about the person’s Zip+4, geo-demographic segment self-identification, and transportation modes the person is familiar with, and their tour. The second phase asks an open question of what their general concerns about transportation in the Puget Sound area are, and they can list as many phrases as they feel are needed. This provides the super-ordinate level of Lakoff’s schema and these topics are then used to generate topics at the basic and subordinate level. The noun phrase used in these concerns are extracted manually or using Computational Linguistic techniques involving Natural Language / Shallow Text Processing and explored further by questions prompting them to relate their direct sensory experiences in the present, the past, and a prediction along the Time Axes. This temporal bracketing is essential to draw out the particular nature of the change that is being related by the interviewee, along with the coordinate terms relating to the concept. The particular order of approach to each time period is crucial. The most immediate memory is re-

18 called within the concept frame, this then allows the more distant memory to be evoked depending on the same frame. By invoking the prediction, the interviewee is prodded into recalling the specific nature of the change in order to extrapolate into the future, further refining the concept. And finally, being asked how they would resolve the change in the future provides a summary synthesis of the concept. Estate Space is then addressed for a single concern topic brought forth in the initial regional concern listing. A series of questions is then generated along each of the three axes (Equity, Environment, and Economic) from the individual outward. The participant is asked to extrapolate the effects through a range of scales
Figure 5: Transportation Concerns Elicitation Process

to detect values shifts and coordinate terms for this single concern.

For the Equity Axis, the questions range from ‘Yourself’ through ‘Wife (or significant other), Children, Relatives, Parents’, ‘Neighbors’, ‘Citizens of the City’, ‘Citizens of the Area’, ‘Citizens of the Puget Sound’ region, ‘Citizens of Washington State’, ‘Citizens of the United States of America’, and to the ‘Global Population’. For the Environment Axis, the questions range from the ‘Home’ through the ‘Neighborhood’, ‘Seattle-Tacoma-Everett Metropolitan area’, ‘Western slope of the Cascades (Vancouver B.C. to Portland) Area’, out to the ‘Planetary Biosphere’. The Economic Axis expands from ‘Yourself’ through to ‘Neighborhood Residents’, ‘Seattle-TacomaEverett metropolitan area residents’, ‘State of Washington Economy’, ‘GNP of the United States’, and the ‘World Economy’. By starting each axes of questions from the person themselves and the outward to larger concepts allows a graduated progression of value examination from what topics they know most intimately outward to those less known and more abstract. Also, previous statements are recalled into short term memory and confirmation and contradiction with following statements becomes evident.

19 The text generated during these responses is tagged with the appropriate context as it occurs and is then used to generate a narrative (See Appendix 1) for examination by the participant, where they can evaluate whether their perspective
Figure 6: Lexical Cluster from NLP/STP transformed into Sense Clusters, example shows ‘Telework' concern using the Realms framework, insets are detailed views of the clusters

has been adequately captured. The text is then processed to extract a rough concept map (Figure 6) using lexical chain processing; the main noun phrase is used as a node on which other nodes are joined according to their lexical proximity to the main concept. This technique allows for detailed elicitation of concerns while allowing

those concerns to be aggregated and used in further deliberative processes, such as brain storming and structured discussion in Delphi or NGT sessions. Online Interview Compared with Face-to Face (F2F) An internet based interview will differ in many significant ways from a face to face interview. Any Internet based method should be compared and confirmed against the same process in face to face personal interview to note important behavioral differences and take the opportunity to refine and clarify the methodology. The interview structure used in the IM sessions was used in a face to face setting. The goal was to compare the ‘endurance’ of the interviewee, and compare the time required in an F2F (Face to Face) and Internet IM interview, and then extrapolate that to

20
PgisT: What things or events do you actually experience TODAY or YESTERDAY, particularly those things you see, hear, touch, feel (emotional reactions), and smell, that determined why you said " Crosswalks are dangerous because people don't like to stop. Rush, rush, rush. " Participant: There have been a number of people killed crossing at crosswalks in Redmond. That leaves an impression. Hard to miss a person in the middle of the street. Shows a lack of carelessness on the part of drivers. We need a massive re-education program if we plan to get people to walk anywhere. That is, the drivers need to be educated - and perhaps the pedestrians who ALWAYS have to be on guard. Participant: Shows carelessness, not a lack of carelessness. Sometimes I can't think and type. PgisT: What things or events do you actually experience TODAY or YESTERDAY, particularly those things you see, hear, touch, feel (emotional reactions), and / or smell, that determined why you said "It's two plus miles from my house to the nearest store. Anyone with arthritis has a horrible time walking that distance without huge amounts of pain. " Participant: Pain. Walking on rough roads is harder than walking on a sidewalk if you have a disability. Expecting those with disabilities to walk on rough roads is unrealistic. And walking long distances is also problematic anyway.

any future automated or semi-automated process. Another goal was to examine the length of responses and the need for clarification and to use the face to face interview to refine the IM questions. The interviews were also examined for transitions and contradictions as each axes of questions progressed outward. Both the IM and F2F interview results were also used to query the subject about epistemological processes and hermeneutics of the resulting narratives. Both the IM and Face-to-Face involved a very large time commitment by both the researcher – several hours for the comprehensive and extensive progression attempted. The IM approach does offer several future avenues to mitigate this time commitment. For the researcher, using Natural Language Processing to extract the key phrases on the fly to generate the follow on question has the possibility of automating or semi-automating the process. Such automation does have the drawback of limiting the

Figure 7: Asking for direct sensory experience in an excerpt of an online interview as a conversation using Instant Messaging.

ability for the interviewee and the researcher to ask for clarification and deeper probing; on the other hand it would have the ability of ensuring that the same structure would be followed during multiple interviews. Automating would also allow the researcher and the subject to operate asynchronously, reducing scheduling difficulties and allowing one researcher to address many interviews. Also, while committing to a continuous several hour block is difficult, automation or semi-automation would allow the interview to be stopped and restarted as needed. The online method also allows greater time for the subject to consider there responses without considering the in person obligation to answer immediately. Both the IM and the F2F seemed to require approximately the same total contact time to complete. IM also has a vast improvement over F2F in that transcription is occurring by default and is bottlenecked by transcription expertise, processing time and cost.

21 Responses to the questions in both the IM and F2F were comparable (but this sample is too small to make any general conclusions). Length was generally similar to a paragraph, generally with several sentences well directed to the question. Many answers involved multiple paragraphs, indicating the need in an automated process of allowing the respondent to continue as much as they would like, which would contra-indicate the use of a standard web form which would pre-impose limitations or perceptions of the quantity needed. The greatest difficulty was around communicating the need for direct sensory experience ( Figure 7) rather than interpretation or general conclusions, but in all cases in both IM and F2F the respondents ‘got the hang of it’ eventually. This would indicate that in any automated or semi-automated scenario a ‘training’ session, very explicit instructions, preparatory examples or all the preceding should be given before the actual interview process. IM mitigated one serious issue, the influence of the researcher to get a particular sort of response. Based on requests for clarification from the subjects, in both the IM and F2F situations the communication of the particular geographic scale in effect for a given question needs to be refined. Communicating the notion of ‘Equity’ needs further work – while all subjects seemed to have a ready idea of ‘Economic issues’, and also with ‘Environmental’ issues, ‘Equity’ issues were always cast in terms of these other two axes. It was relatively easy to observe value shifts as the questions and replies moved from the personal outward to larger scales. Several this times a contradiction was evident to the subject themselves. In one IM interview, the respondent was asked about ‘Zoning Changes’ at personal level, then at the neighborhood level:
“I would like no zoning changes … but I expect they will move to commercial possibly within 10 years for this house I live in now ... yes, I did say that … I think they are selfish and lack social consideration.. .lol … No, not exactly, but I agree I was taking this from a "self" perspective … but I am sure other 'self's" have the same view … I think my recommendations would help everyone who commutes in the area …”

The self realization of a ‘selfish’ viewpoint was confronted at the city level, and as the progression moved to larger scales, a more equanimous attitude appeared:
“We are all in this together … all roads lead to Rome … Or so they say … all changes lead to everyone … and thus they should … I think the state is taking traffic in consideration with it's zoning”

This indicates that the proposed interview structure has the possibility of detecting the subtle qualities of ‘NIMBY’ (Not in My Back Yard) which confounds planners composing and future changes in policies and projects. Even a superficially ‘win-win’ traffic mitigation strategy like ‘Telework’ elicited a potential counter narrative when addressed at the global scale:

22 “Likely make the poor countries even poorer and the wealthy countries even wealthier unless we can create literate societies with a good IT infrastructure and food.” In the F2F interview for instance, the subject realized that while his proposed solution of massive highway construction would help existing commuters, it would have detrimental effects on fuel conservation and climate in the long term. Jonathan Swift is attributed with saying “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.” The elicitation of these self generated contradictions and counter narratives is the most valuable product of this strategy. These provide valuable points for beginning deliberation within specific frames during follow on discussions. The questions were stripped and the respondent’s answers were extracted, grouped and assembled into a narrative form (Appendix 1) to allow the interviewee to examine the totality of their elicited perspectives to provide a hermeneutic evaluation. The interview is very structured and ‘conversational’, the answers are very specific to the framed questions at the moment. When these responses are aggregated, it is important to verify that their totality is representative of the meanings the interviewee would wish to impart. The respondents were asked to comment on the assembled narrative, and all agreed that it did capture their perspective in a synoptic sense. The interview also has an epistemological effect, there is knowledge building occurring as the concepts are elicited along the various axes. All agreed that the interview process had also helped them clarify their own ideas about the subject matter, and expressed a desire to learn more in areas where they found themselves lacking well founded ideas or opinions. So such a structured interview was not neutral, it does not leave the subject the same as when it started. This is valuable if this is the first step in a further deliberative process, but could be questionable if the research agenda is not meant to influence the subjects. Thus, if such an interview is accomplished, we are positioning ourselves as activist researchers. 24, 25 Linguistics Processing The IM respondent’s answers were processed to extract noun phrases using Natural Language Processing / Shallow Text Processing (NLP/STP). To test the ability of NLP/STP to capture the relevance and meaning of the responses, the keywords were concatenated into a Google Advanced Search query. The results list was very small and contained predominantly documents very relevant to the specific subject and geographical location of the response – considering that

23 this query was executed against the World Wide Web, and not a more limited corpus, this demonstrated the robustness of using NLP/STP for capturing the essence of the subject’s text. Conclusion Prof. Mao P Kwan called for the need for ‘Hybrid Geographies’
26

– that qualitative and

quantitative methods inform and support one another, rather than being exclusionary of each other. At the root of every quantitative model is first a qualitative process of deciding which factors will be accounted for in the quantitative model. Additionally, software design itself is at the beginning informed by qualitative process in narratives, user stories and use cases. While she may claim equality of these at the theoretical level, a participatory software system is dominated by the use of qualitative methods, in design, in the situation, and in the operational dynamics. Using various forms of discourse and textual analysis at multiple scales can yield the substantiating patterns and aspects which enable us to codify such a system into technological artifacts of software and hardware and allow capture of multiple perspectives from participants in their own words, and support further deliberative processes. By using the geographical principles of scale and structures operating at multiple scales to guide the structuring of the interview process, a rich and robust narrative of the individual’s significant personal experiences can be captured in their own words. Using qualitative methods applied to Internet technologies potentially allows the researcher to greatly scale the number of participants and the depth of there responses. Using software technologies such as NLP/STP allows these responses to be incorporated into larger deliberative processes while preserving their unique individual qualities, and can aid in the generation of tools such as concept and theme maps. The use of qualitative methods combined with NLP/STP provides a robust foundation for a participatory software system.

24

References:
1. 2 Konstadinos Goulias (2003) “Transportation Systems Planning”, CRC Press, NY Nyerges T., Brooks T., Drew C., Jankowski P., Rutherford G. S., and Young R. (2003), “An Internet Platform to Support Public Participation in Transportation Decision Making”, National Science Foundation Grant Proposal Goulias, K.C. (2000). Travel behavior and values research for human-centered transportation systems. “Transportation in the New Millennium”. Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences, Washington. http://www4.nationalacademies.org/trb/homepage.nsf/we b/millennium_ papers Stephenson N., “In the Beginning...Was the Command Line”, (1999), Harper Perennial Iain Hay, Ed. 2000. Qualitative Research Methods In Human Geography. Oxford University Press. England, Kim V.L. 1994. “Getting Personal: Reflexivity, Positionality, and Feminist Research.” Professional Geographer 80-89. (Course Reader) Eppel N., “Security Absurdity: The Complete, Unquestionable, And Total Failure of Information Security. - A long-overdue wake up call for the information security community.” (2006) http://www.securityabsurdity.com/failure.php Lange L 2005, Monorail risk sharing idea is back, Seattle Post-Intelligencer , Wednesday, July 27, 2005 Carlson J. 2005, Guest columnist The reason folks flocked to the gas-tax-repeal initiative, The Seattle Times Thursday, August 4, 2005 http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/200241926 7_carlson04.html The Blue Ribbon Commission On Transportation, Final Recommendations to the Governor and Legislature, December, 2000, Seattle, Washington 98101 Transportation Commission and WSDOT 2005, WSDOT Public Attitudes Focus Groups Chapman R. The Softletter Financial Handbook, Chapter 1: Metrics & Benchmarks Wachs M. and Schofer J. 1969,Abstract Values and Concrete Highways, Traffic Quarterly Jan 1969 p133-145 14. Healey P. 1992, Planning through debate: the communicative turn in planning theory, - Town Planning Review, 1992 15. Healey P. 1996, The Communicative Turn In Planning Theory And Its Implications For Spatial Strategy Formation, Environment and planning 1996, Volume 23 p217234 16. Habermas J 1987, The Theory of Communicative Action. Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason 17. Mouffe C, For an agonistic public sphere 18. Landwehr C. 2004, Rational Choice, Deliberative Democracy, And Preference Transformation, Studies in Social and Political Thought 19. Gilbert M 1997, Coalescent Argumentation, Michael A., 1997, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Mahwah NJ 20. Smith B, 2003, “John Searle: From Speech Acts to Social Reality”. ontology.buffalo.edu 21. Lakoff G. 1987, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things : What categories reveal about the mind , University of Chicago Press 22. Stilwell F. “Understanding Cities and Regions: Spatial Political Economy”, Pluto Press, Sydney 1992 23. Rubin I.S. and Rubin H.J “Interviews as Guided Conversations” and “Structuring a Qualitative Interview,” from. Qualitative Interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 24. Miskovic, Maya and Katrina Hoop.. 2006. “Action Research Meets Critical Pedagogy.” Qualitative Inquiry 12:2:269-291. Electronic Reserve 25. Cameron, J. and K. Gibson. “Participatory action research in a poststructuralist vein. Geoforum. 36:3:315331. Electronic Reserve. 26. Kwan M. 2004, AAG Centennial Forum - Beyond Difference: From Canonical Geography to Hybrid Geographies, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 2004 Blackwell-Synergy

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Appendix 1: Participant Narrative

Concern Elicitation
Resident of 98053-7408
Do you only want current or do you what I have done in the past vis-a-vis transportion options? … Right now … I live in a single-family dwelling in the suburbs. … Redmond. Not wealthy. Not upper-income. Just frugal. Close to 3 without the money and without the high-powered job. …. It's a mixed neighborhood of expensive homes and middleclass folks. … I personally do not know anyone with a 6 figure income. Houses are spread out. Some young, some middle-aged, a few elderly folks.

Transportation Use
Trajectory ‘Space’
Define carpool ,,, How many people? … I use SOV occasionally, carpool (2), and bus. I have used train and bike in the past. … I think it's important to say that I tend to batch shopping projects. e.g. I will go to the grocery store, bank, library, other sites, but usually only if I do two or more activities. ... I probably go shopping twice a week by carpool (2 people). Travel to downtown Redmond via Avondale, main streets. I tend to travel after 9:30am to 11:30 and between 2:20 and 4:00pm to keep out of the main traffic flows. If I have to go to the dentist or doctors I travel whenever the appointment is. … So, I make at least two trips out per week, occasionally three but mostly I stay home and work. Pathetic. Wow, I'm the last person to ask about routes and street names. I memorize how to get there and basically stick with that route. …. While I started driving early, I didn't actually get my license till I was 40. I guess I just feel more comfortable going with someone else. … Actually, I guess it's SOV, but mostly there are myself and my SO in the car, thus carpool. We do things together. … Already answered that. While I started driving early, I didn't actually get my license till I was 40. I guess I just feel more comfortable going with someone else. I'm not very adventurous. And I tend to be lazy when it comes to driving. … I LOVE the bus!!!!!! In the past when I primarily used the bus I had so much fun with the other passengers. Now I like it for the convenience. Since the bus companies started running busses to Redmond more often - at least once an hour - I can get into the UW or downtown and back out again very easily. Who wouldn't want to take the bus when it's so convenient. … Don't use a bike now. That was a past event. … Too dangerous to ride a bike. People don't see you and they don't care about you. Nope, too dangerous. … I like the train because it is easy, inexpensive, and allows me a choice of things to do. I can knit, read, watch a movie or combine activities. Even talk to people. I like the train better than the bus even if it costs more. 'Course the distances are greater by train, too.

Concern Topics

Location ‘Space’: At the Local / Neighborhood Level
Hardly any sidewalks mean it's dangerous to walk. … Crosswalks are dangerous because people don't like to stop. Rush, rush, rush. … It's two plus miles from my house to the nearest store. Anyone with arthritis has a horrible time walking that distance without huge amounts of pain. … Students mostly do not live within walking distance of their schools. Bussing them has led to an epidemic of obesity. Also for the middle-aged and elderly. Either stores are not convenient or streets are not safe. … Guess that covers most of the local/neighborhood issues.

At the City Level
Live in the County. Right across the street is the city of Redmond but we are county. … Actually they're the same as mentioned previously. Perhaps because of where I live the transportation issues appear to be the same. … I would love to live in a place where I could walk to shops but not if I have to live in a totally urban environment.

At the Regional Level
I think the city planners left the planning of a unified transportation system too late. No foresight. The land where a good transportation system could have been put is now full of very expensive houses. These folks must know where the growth is occurring and where it is likely to occur. But they don't seem to have planned for having the transportation system in place to meet that growth. I should be able to get from one large city on the West side of the mountains to another via a unified transportation system. It should be as easy for me to get to a mini-mall anywhere in the region from my home as it is to get from my house to downtown Seattle or the UW.

Observations
Not sure what you want here. … I don't get emotional about these things. I am basing my thoughts on what I see around me: drivers with little concern for pedestrians. … And reckless driving. … Does being forced off the

road into the ditch by someone on a cell phone count? … My road has what amounts to blind curves on it. I always have to be on guard. That takes away from the enjoyment. I usually drive to someplace I can walk, and then walk. There have been a number of people killed crossing at crosswalks in Redmond. That leaves an impression. Hard to miss a person in the middle of the street. Shows a lack of carelessness on the part of drivers. We need a massive re-education program if we plan to get people to walk anywhere. That is, the drivers need to be educated - and perhaps the pedestrians who ALWAYS have to be on guard. Shows carelessness, not a lack of carelessness. Sometimes I can't think and type. … Pain. Walking on rough roads is harder than walking on a sidewalk if you have a disability. Expecting those with disabilities to walk on rough roads is unrealistic. And walking long distances is also problematic anyway. …. Students mostly do not live within walking distance of their schools. Bussing them has led to an epidemic of obesity. Also for the middle-aged and elderly. Either stores are not convenient or streets are not safe." … I'm in public health and many of the discussions are about how the built environment has made it impossible for many K-12 students to walk to their schools. With lack of exercise and a really bad diet at school, the number of obese kids is rising pretty swiftly. We've create a non-walking, school-bus dependent environment. Also the big schools mean fewer of them and longer distances to reach them. 2.5 miles is the distance before bussing starts - and that just means the kids are driven to school by their parents. So no exercise there either. … Suburban living means that stores are long distances. I would have to drive to the nearest store to buy anything. There are tradeoffs. … Putting myself in the senior category, here. … LOL. I want the amenities of rural living with the amenities of an urban environment. It's just not going to happen. … I used to love walking and still would if it wasn't so painful. … I can't move from one city or part of a city to another easily. This makes me more dependent on my car. … I suppose I could live in a rural retirement community with all the amenities. If I could afford it. …

Oh, yes. Telework is my favorite topic. I strongly believe that any white collar worker who is project oriented and who is a self-starter is perfect for telework. I did it one day a week when I was at the UW and I got so much more done on those Fridays than when I was at the U. No interruptions. No transportation costs. Nirvana. So, I have strong feelings about telework. It is a very positive experience. … Hum. I'm not exactly sure of this, but I do know that people have break-even points that vary with the person. I've always felt that the buses were a good deal. That taking the train instead of driving made much more sense due to the costs, but if transportation costs had gone up too much, I might have changed my mind and driven. … Course, this is my personal feeling about transportation. I have friends who dislike the smell of the buses (It never bothered me), and waiting (I read when I wait, or knit). … Well, if I were marketing to people, I would emphasize how much money they could save by taking the bus - and do it in real dollars ($4.00 round trip vs. cost of car, gas, insurance, maintenance, etc). Also emphasize what you can do while commuting via bus (I use bus for any transportation mode except cars). I would also put wireless access on the buses so that passengers could do their email and get a quick start on the day. For that I would pay extra. … 405 is always busy. Too many cars. Not enough road for the number of cars. The two bridges are like that, too. Very busy, hardly a time when there aren't masses of traffic. … I assume that the traffic lights need to be changed to reflect changing traffic flows. If the lights are set up to let fewer people through one way, the line of traffic will build and cause frustration. I assume some kind of notification system might alleviate the "road rage" that some people feel when they can't move could be lessened. … Wow. I never thought of the carpool lanes being jugged up. What a dreadful thought! … I have experienced the traffic congestion that other person spoke of and try to make my life easier by traveling when the roads are not quite so crowded. See times in statement at (2:09:54 PM). I also leave early in the am if going on a road trip via car.

Baseline
In the past I could jump out of the way faster than I can now. …. It seems as if drivers were more concerned about pedestrians in the past. Now they are preoccupied with getting places as fast as they can, with talking on the phone, and with eating and drinking as they drive. Has to do with feeling the pressure of time, I think. It seems to be worse now than in the past. Much worse. Also, stop and start traffic means that many people read while they wait for the next forward movement. …. Well, I didn't have arthritis in the past and walking two miles was nothing for me to do regularly. One's ability to walk easily gets constrained as you get older - well, at least for some of us. Now I need a smooth place to walk. Even hiking is out of the question. … Hiking is out of the question unless the path is really smooth. Jarring my knees hurts like a SOB. … With gated communities such as we have now but less so in the past, students tend to get driven to school or they get bussed. I always walked to school but then the schools were not more than 1.5 miles away. But that was longer ago than 10 years. The problem of poorly planned neighborhoods has been going on for longer than 10 years and so has the increase in obesity. Humans are meant to walk and we suffer from obesity and accompanying chronic diseases when we don't. The elderly tend to gain weight as they get older since they're less likely to exercise. I don't think that has changed much although I know that seniors did walk more in the past than they do now and were more active. … I never thought about the availability of shops before. When I lived in the city I could always bus to shopping areas. Now living in the suburban environment I have to drive. … In the past there weren't so many malls. LOL. I know that planning has always been a problem. Not sure how to get around the issue of short-timer politicians with shortened long-views. I guess I have greater expectations if the transportation system now. I expect to be able to get anywhere in the region easily. I did not expect that in the past. … I expect REGIONAL planning. Not local, now. And there is no reason for not planning regionally what with GIS and all. … In the past not as many people could afford two cars. Now it is not uncommon to have two or more cars. It seems to me that people expected to take the bus to work. Course, once people moved to the suburbs, that idea changed. I think many managers are afraid to trust their employees to work at home so that it doesn't seem that using telework to reduce traffic is an option. This should be part of REGIONAL planning. Employers wherever possible should be given minor tax breaks to encourage telework at least three times a week. That would benefit all of us with less pollution, less traffic, and less gas used. …. Cost of transportation has been steadily increasing over the years (my perception). It's hard to find bus tickets and sometimes folks forget to get change for the ticket/money machine. Just a small inconvenience. Think there should be more support of transportation. There will need to be. The folks who can least afford to take bus are the ones who can't afford a car. I always purchased a year-long bus pass so I never had to worry about money. Maybe everyone should be issued an inexpensive bus pass and forget about getting cash from passengers. …. I didn't think much about transportation in the past because it always was there for me. … Except when I moved to Redmond and the busses only ran during peak hours. If I got sick I stayed at work till the buses ran again.

Prediction
I expect that most roads will have sidewalks. Out in Redmond it seems that when a new subdivision goes in sidewalks are being put in at the same time. That's good news. Now if we could only retrofit roads without all the expense. It looks as if dangerous crosswalks are being set up with flashing lights in the road and above. That is likely what will have to happen on additional Xwalks. … We need a massive reeducation media event to remind drivers and pedestrians about their responsibilities in using crosswalks. Won't reach everyone, but will get many. … Make someone else drive? Order via the Internet? Live closer to stores? Continue to drive? Pay a neighbor to shop for me? The arthritis will only get worse so I will have to figure out different ways of getting around. … Neighborhoods are going to have to be retrofitted with paths alongside houses so kids can get through walls/barriers to their schools. Smaller schools (better for students anyway) or home schooling with lots of outdoor exercise. Elders will likely figure out ways of exercising, perhaps on exercise machines. Doesn't solve the problem of inconvenient stores but that will have to be solved in other ways. … Limitation of activities is going to be a real problem for society in another 10 years what with all us pre-boomers and boomers retiring. … I plan to buy my next house in a really rural area and just drive my car until I can't any more and then I will go into a retirement community right in some large downtown area close to shops, restaurants, etc. Seniors must be realistic about their abilities. I don't expect the situation with planners and our politicians to change anytime in the future. We'll just stumble along until the infrastructure gets built despite our worst efforts. Course it will cost a lot more that way. … I fully expect that telework will be promoted by the government. With politicians with a vested interest in keeping the oil flowing it won't be soon. Also we may have to make some hard choices in the future. If it means keeping warm in the winter or driving a car, I think most people would vote for heat. Telework will save gas that can be used to keep us warm. I also think we need to be investing heavily in sun-based / alternative fuel technologies. We're getting a good start with the new hybrids. But this doesn't get people out of their cars. Telework might. Expensive gas might. But, I am not hopeful for the latter. Salaries will just rise to cover the cost of gas (I think).

… I expect that bus prices will continue to increase but I also hope that there will be support for those with low incomes. If you want people working you may have to supplement their transportation. No supplements for those who are not receiving food stamps! … Think I've already given a response to this question. Bad me. … Well, if I were marketing to people, I would emphasize how much money they could save by taking the bus and do it in real dollars ($4.00 round trip vs. cost of car, gas, insurance, maintenance, etc). Also emphasize what you can do while commuting via bus (I use bus for

any transportation mode except cars). I would also put wireless access on the buses so that passengers could do their email and get a quick start on the day. For that I would pay extra. Somehow those using public health transportation need to understand the cost-benefit /economics of using public transportation. Maybe it will have to come down to "patriotism" or something similar. Maybe the price of gas will rise so much that it will force people into public transportation. I just don't know. … That should be "Somehow those NOT using public transportation..."

Goals
What should happen?
Too many cars: Figure out ways of encouraging people to carpool or ride public transportation. Plan subdivisions so that people can walk. There's good work being done by some innovative architects who are creating idealized communities with no street parking, walkable neighborhoods and integrated homes and shops. The Roads: Create walkable roads. Plan roads, neighborhoods, transportation system for 20, 30, 50 years out and work towards that plan, making changes when necessary. Not Enough Emphasis: Change the emphasis. People are dying early because of poor planning. Figure out ways of working with all stakeholders, the public, public health, transportation planners, architects, etc. Telework: Change public opinion. Telework should be an option for those suited to it. New employees should request it, employers should be encouraged to promote it and of course, so should government - even more than it is doing now. Telework may be an issue if the terrorists continue to kill folks during rush hour. No one wants to be blown up during their commute to work. The Feds: Employees and the public need to pressure large agencies to move faster on implementing telework. Gas Prices Wow. We have to use much less of it. More emphasis on alternative fuel sources including solar energy, biogas/methane, hydrogen, etc. Buses: Make buses more comfortable, more technology friendly so that people can work as they go into work, if they want to. Alternative Kinds ... Transportation: I like what those in DC are doing. There are pickup spots where those traveling in a SOV can stop and pick up passengers. No talking to the driver but you can knit, read, etc. No pay also. The advantage to the driver is that s/he gets to use the HOV lanes. So, set up pickup spots and promote the idea. Hum, running out of ideas. Non-Car Transportation Modes: "Mare's shank". Make it easier to get around by walking and regionally. Would also open up opportunities for smaller rural areas to lure customers to their shops if folks could get to them easily and they had "stuff" that folks wanted to buy. Potential Riders: Media blitz about money/time savings of public transportation. Also, health reasons: less stress to commute via bus than to drive. The Nearest Store: Dunno what to do about that. Sort of a catch-22. No one walks so neighborhood stores are a problem and few walk to stores because there aren't any in the neighborhood. Anyone ... Arthritis ... A Horrible Time ... That Distance ... Huge Amounts ... Pain: Closer stores, neighborhoods with good/smooth sidewalks, safe places to walk and places to rest after a walk - benches. Front porches so that people can see each other and visit. Students: Easier access to schools. Schools should be closer to neighborhoods where there are a lot of school-aged kids. Move the damn school if necessary. They don't have to be so large. Back to the one-room school house, LOL. Walking Distance: Walking distance, hum. That's a mile or a mile and a half one way. Not 2.5 miles. Their Schools: Schools should be closer to neighborhoods where there are a lot of school-aged kids. Move the damn schoold if necessary. An Epidemic ... Obesity: Better education. We have a huge number of folks with diabetes. We need to encourage folks to ride the bus and to walk places. Streets: Walkable. Sidewalks. Safe. Shops: Walkable. Safe. Appropriate for neighborhoods. Planned in advance. A Totally Urban Environment: Wouldn't live in one until I get so old I have to be really close to amenities. The City Planners: Change the curriculum. Look at what is happening / has happened in Europe and adapt some of their methods. The Planning: Doesn't have context. A Unified Transportation System: Better REGIONAL planning. Too many turf wars and folks with vested interests. The Land: Ah, vive the land! Keep as many open spaces as possible for agriculture, forests, places for folks to visit and enjoy, and keep the transportation systems away from the middle of valleys. A Good Transportation System: Better REGIONAL planning. Too many turf wars and folks with vested interests. keep the transportation systems away from the middle of valleys. Plan ahead out to 50 years. Very Expensive Houses: LOL. Soon to be a correction in expensive homes. The Growth: Well, if SARS/bird flu doesn't decimate the population we have to figure out ways of controlling it. Of mixing people and the land and getting them where they need to go easily. One Large City: Nothing. Don't think anything can be done. Once a city has grown it would take an "Act of God" to reduce the size. A Mini-Mall: Mini-malls are good. Leave them where they are but figure out ways of getting people to them easily and using public transportation or by walking. The Region: Better transportation planning My Home: Sell it next year and move to the country. At a profit. My House: Wish I could move it to the country. Just change the land and site. r.

Values: Estate ‘Space’
Telework: Change public opinion. Telework should be an option for those suited to it. New employees should request it, employers should be encouraged to promote it and of course, so should government - even more than it is doing now. Telework may be an issue if the terrorists continue to kill folks during rush hour. No one wants to be blown up during their commute to work.
Estate Space, a triad of sustainability relationships

Equity Axis:
(Yourself, children, relatives, parents, neighbors, citizens of the city, citizens of the area, citizens of the Puget Sound region, citizens of Washington State, citizens of the United States of America, global population.)
public opinion, telework, an option, new employees, employers, course, government, telework, an issue, the terrorists, folks, hour, their commute, telework, implications, other people, my brother, a nurse, work, my husband, home, my mom lives downtown, shops, my brother, a nurse, work, patients, most, my close neighbors, telecommute, offices, one physician commutes, ghc downtown, a better quality, life, a healthier life, a better environment, less traffic, more people, a healthier life, less traffic, more people, a better environment, access, previously inaccessible towns, life, rural people , those east, the mountains, the distances, a positive impact, western washington, a better quality, life, a healthier life, a better environment, less traffic, rural people, an example, washington state, the rest, the country, a matter, time, changes, my lifetime, the internet, the usa, the world, resources, china, more gas and oil, the costs, fuel, home, the usa, the leader, energy reduction

Change public opinion. Telework should be an option for those suited to it. New employees should request it, employers should be encouraged to promote it and of course, so should government - even more than it is doing now. Telework may be an issue if the terrorists continue to kill folks during rush hour. No one wants to be blown up during their commute to work. ... Well, I already telework. None. But it might have implications for other people … None. My brother is a nurse and must travel to work. My husband works from home as I do. My mom lives downtown close to shops. … Explanation: My brother is a nurse and must travel to work. He can't work on patients from home. … Most of my close neighbors also telecommute or have offices close to where they live. One physician commutes to GHC downtown but takes a special shuttle. … A better quality of life. A healthier life. A better environment. Less traffic when they do have to drive. Better transportation system since more people will be using it and supporting it. … A better quality of life. A healthier life. A better environment. Less traffic when they do have to drive. Better transportation system since more people will be using it and supporting it. Easier access to previously inaccessible towns. Better standard of life for rural people. … Probably will not affect those east of the mountains where the distances are so large but will have a positive impact on those in Western Washington. A better quality of life. A healthier life. A better environment. Less traffic when they do have to drive. Better transportation system since more people will be using it and supporting it. Easier access to previously inaccessible towns. Better standard of life for rural people. …. Wow. Well if we set an example in Washington State maybe the rest of the country will adapt it. Personally, I think it's just a matter of time before there will be changes. Not in my lifetime, but later. The Internet is already making some things possible - like telework. … The USA uses too much of the world's resources. With China and India demanding more gas and oil, the costs of fuel will go so high we'll be reduced to working from home and only traveling when it is absolutely necessary. The USA ought to be planning for that eventuality and being the leader in energy reduction.

Environmental Axis:
Home, neighborhood, Seattle-Tacoma-Everett metropolitan area, Western slope of the Cascades (Vancouver B.C. to Portland) area, planetary biosphere
the foreseeable future, minimal impact, humans, some initial environmental damage, those kinks, the environment, cleaner air, water, humans, some initial environmental damage, those kinks, the environment, cleaner air, water

None for the foreseeable future. …. Done properly there ought to be minimal impact. However, when have we ever done anything correctly (we, humans, that is). I expect there will be some initial environmental damage until we figure out what we are doing but then we will work those kinks out and generally speaking the environment will be cleaner: cleaner air, water, etc. … Done properly there ought to be minimal impact. … However, when have we ever done anything correctly (we, humans, that is). …. I expect there will be some initial environmental damage until we figure out what we are doing but then we will work those kinks out and generally speaking the environment will be cleaner: cleaner air, water, etc.

Economic Axis:
(Yourself, neighborhood residents, Seattle-Tacoma-Everett metropolitan area residents, State of Washington economy, GNP of the United States, world economy)
,more green space, forests , wildlife, places, people, their neighborhoods, a regional basis, less expensive living, higher real estate prices, a better job market, more folks, home, less money, new roads, the infrastructure and transportation options, initial increase, taxes, the future, folks, services / goods, more taxes, rich, considerable savings, employers, society, a better quality, life, folks, efficiently, the poor countries, the wealthy countries, literate societies, it, infrastructure and food

Cleaner air, more green space, forests, wildlife, places for people to go in their neighborhoods. Better living. … Probably be expensive but less so if planned on a regional basis. Better living, less expensive living, higher real estate prices, a better job market since more folks will be able to work from home. … Less money spent on building new roads; more on maintaining the infrastructure and transportation options. Initial increase in taxes to pay for all this but in the future should be less. Better health so that folks can work longer to produce services/goods. And pay more taxes cause they're still working. … We'll all be rich! … I think there are considerable savings for employers and society and a better quality of life. Also means folks can live wherever they want and still be able to work efficiently. … Likely make the poor countries even poorer and the wealthy countries even more wealthy unless we can create literate societies with a good IT infrastructure and food.

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