It’s the Driving (Not the Texting), Stupid

Earlier this year,  when state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Ballard) was pushing his no-texting-while-driving bill, I linked to a Wired magazine editorial. The short piece argued that policy makers nationwide (there were bills like Carlyle’s in play all over the country) were concerned with the wrong issue and, so,  were missing an opportunity to consider more sweeping reforms.Wired columnist Clive Thompson argued that that problem with texting-while-driving wasn’t the texting. It was the driving.

Texting, he argued, was a good thing, and should be embraced as a sign that society needed to invest in more public transit. (You can text on the bus.)

Mostly, though, the editorial seemed more like a cutesy provocation than a fully-formed policy piece.

But last week, The Atlantic picked up on Thompson’s canny observation and published an editorial that elaborated on his whole no-driving-while-texting rejoinder.

Atlantic senior editor and technology writer Alexis Madrigal argues that just as 20th Century networks—roads, electrical transmission grids, sewer, water—worked hand-in-hand to promote suburban culture (you could move into the suburbs, but still, thanks to TV and radio, “go” to the game and the show), the 21st Century’s wireless network (which Madrigal sees as a metaphor for density) should be used to draw us back together.