.Free online exchange,
death threat to consumerism.
first, and probably most precious resource that is possible to share
is time, so a quite successfull effort is the the exchange of free time.
In Italy this practice, mediated by public institutions is called 'La
Banca del Tempo (the Bank of Time)'. You donate one hour of your time
doing something useful for somebody else (teach a foreign language,
paint a wall, etc.) and you'll receive something by someone else who'll
spend one hour too (cooking a cake for you, fixing your bike, etc).
You'd even ask for something specific. It works on on a 'points' based
system: you get points everytime you do something, and your points amount
let you request acts or things offered by others.
It's an invisible network that makes time free from a quantified economic
value, testing a different type of economics. There are voluntary based
organization in USA and Europe that just support this exchange preventing
it from abuse. The free exchange of goods got also some hardcore net
Why trash things in the wasting cycle? The Worldwide Freecycle Network
is a net that founds on two principles: exchange things for free and
do it locally. It is built around mailing lists where people tell about
objects they want to give or would like to have. It's a surplus sharing,
self-organized and spontaneous, and it's working fine in many U.S. cities
and abroad (Singapore, Tokyo, Sheffield, Vancouver, Melbourne, Adelaide,
London, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, now).
On the high-tech
side the Italian Hacklabs (the nation scattered and squatted hacker
laboratories) had always organized some hardware exchange, trading used
and old pieces of computer hardware, often bringing back to life what
is the symbol of obsolete technology. Restricting the field to books
and cds Swappingtons is a community site, that uses the same 'points'
mechanism, awarding people who give this kind of stuff to others.
You give a book/cd and then receive some points, that let you ask a
cd or another book for the same amout of points. More spontaneous and
fate-related is the BookCrossing practice whose aim is to establish
a free and ubiquitous worldwide library. It consists in 'releasing'
a book you want tho share with anybody else in public places, telling
people where to get it. Labelling books with their ID system let people
find titles and to know comments by other readers (by email sent to
the ID owner) who pick up and then release again your book.
There are even some business based on network of communities that want
to share, not just to buy/sell/trash. Think at Ebay. Scrolling its listings
anybody'd find lots of goods that are almost free, but sold at symbolic
prices. And similary to Swappingtons, but more focused on borrowing
stuff is of the most recent web business of this kind: MediaChest [http://www.mediachest.com],
an online infrastructure that let you share your personal collection
of books, cds, dvds and games. It's a sort of friend-of-a-friend (FoF)
network for the borrowing of goods, a system to keep in touch with unknown
people through the same interest in some kind of cultural stuff.
All these efforts draw a possible reshaping of the consumer society
in something new, that recycles, share and donate. This is one the most
appealing starts for a different economics, aimed at connecting people,
letting them share personal properties (including some time of their
life) and stating a death threat to the broadcasted consumer model.
essays / articles
The Right Time for Research: The Beginning. A pro-usability article.
An article on the infamous demise of boo.com and the impact of the innovative
design on success
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