An interesting observation: The security guards at Ames act far more friendly when I ride in on a bike than when I’m in a car. I say the same things in the same manner (I believe) but the guards are far more jovial when I’m on a bike. There could, of course, be a million explanations but I think it may have a lot to do with psychology and the fact that when I’m in a car, there is literally a metal wall between me and them that doesn’t exist when I’m on a bike. People subconscious’ react poorly to any perceived barriers in an interaction. Ask professional communicators and they will tell you that standing behind a podium or desk is considered counterproductive for creating a personal connection.
This is also why good old fashioned face to face communication and thus why transportation technology will continue to be important. Think about it – despite the availability of phone calls, video chat, email and instant messaging, people still spend oodles of money and time to fly across the world to meet face to face every day for both personal and professional reasons.
I often hear the prediction that communications technology is just on the verge of making such travel obsolete. However consider how long it has been since the first predictions like that were made and the continuation of the massive gap between in-person interactions and those through communications technology: regardless of the medium, I feel like you still lose at least 50% of verbal and 75% of the non verbal subtleties (yes, I just totally made those numbers up.) If communication technology ever reaches the point where it can actually substitute for face-to-face interactions, I suspect it won’t be any time soon.