Monday, July 21, 2014

Bitstrips: Reclaiming public transportation narrative

A cartoon version of Cynthia M. Parkhill, created with the Bitstrips app, stands waving behind a departing bus. She says, "Thanks, driver! Have a great day!" The cartoon panel's caption reads, "Part of the transportation revolution: A growing number of people rely on public transportation."

Reclaiming my public transportation narrative from the Bitstrips app: a validation of travel by bus, and identification of myself among the growing number of people who rely on public transportation.

While exploring the library of pre-made cartoon statuses that Bitstrips provides users on Facebook, I was struck by what appeared to be developer bias against riding the bus. The above cartoon was adapted from a panel showing a frantically-running avatar, supposedly “sick of taking the bus” as it sped away from her stop.

Between missing the bus, getting drenched by rain while waiting for the bus, and the worst offender: “LATER, LOSERS!” was the suggested caption for a panel that depicted my avatar riding past a bus stop on a scooter.

The people at the bus stop seem to be angry, resentful and sad while my avatar speeds by. None of these are emotions that I want to inspire in people.

The panel might’ve at least partially redeemed itself if my avatar could ride a bicycle (which is a completely nonexistent commuter choice as far as Bitstrips is concerned), but the “LATER, LOSERS!” is simply mean. Read Taras Grescoe’s Straphanger for another perspective on riding the bus (and trains and bicycles.)

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