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April 17, 2008

The running of the programmers

bridges_12142006_1700  Off-topic, this, but there's an interesting report in this week's Economist about the changing lifestyle patterns created by mobile technology, and the rise of the digital "nomad" who works anywhere and everywhere (I'm writing this from my local coffee shop, just to prove what a trendy nomadic-type person I am). Particularly interesting (to folks round here, anyway) is a write-up of the results of a series of studies of US traffic patterns carried out by Alan Pisarski over the past three decades:

Car trips had stopped increasing and were even declining in cities such as Seattle, Atlanta and Portland. Traffic was still heavy but now spread out over much longer periods, starting at 5am and lasting till noon, say. Bizarre new patterns were cropping up, such as a “reverse commute” in Seattle as lots of male computer scientists at Microsoft in the suburb of Redmond raced downtown to find females—a weekday ritual called "the running of the programmers".

I have to admit that I've never heard the term "running of the programmers" (and besides, I live in Seattle, and am married), but I can attest to the misery that is the 520 into Seattle at 5pm, and I use everything in my power (including not going to Redmond, or traveling on a wi-fi enabled bus) to avoid it. So now I'm part of a lifestyle trend.

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