Collaborative Consumption: Challening the Status Quo

With so many different sharing marketplaces emerging over the years, it’s no wonder the collaborative consumption movement is starting to be met with some growing pains and a struggle to find its identity. Having specialized marketplaces for cars, rooms, and even handbag is what has made it so successful, but they’re not without unique problems, ranging from disturbing the status quo, to trusting someone behind your computer screen. At a glance, the shared economy is a way for anyone to utilize their most valuable assets to make money–assets that aren’t being used one hundred percent of the time, like cars, yachts, spare rooms. At the end of the day though, things like airbnb and Uber are disturbing the traditional way people used to vacation and travel by providing the same service, sometimes cheaper and often times more convenient. This obviously presents a problem: if things like Uber are presenting a [...] Read More

Your new neighborhood: The Internet

There’s a classic scene that can sometimes pan out on tv, the movies, or even in your own kitchen. You’re baking, but realize you’ve made a grave mistake in not having bought any sugar at the store. Worry not! Your neighbor surely has some sugar. So you grab your measuring cup, walk down the hall, and you knock on your neighbors door. Problem solved. Now, in 2013, a cup of sugar has become a car (or a babysitter, or a boat, or even a castle), and your neighbor, conveniently, is the internet. In this analogy, the hallway is the sharing economy which has been making noise for a few years now, and shows no signs of slowing down. But how–and more importantly why–did this grassroots, Burning Man-esque movement (if you can call billions of dollars a movement) come to be? Hiring people to take care of your kids, dogs, and [...] Read More

Shared Fears in the Sharing Economy

A few weeks ago my girlfriend set up an interview for a nannying position through Care.com. She and the family in question exchanged a few messages via the babbysitter marketplace before agreeing to meet. No more than a few days later, my girlfriend forced me into the passenger seat to drive 45 minute out to the suburbs to meet two elementary aged kids under the hawk-like gaze of their mother. But why was I going? The short answer is trust. The long, drawn out answer is that both her and I had a very real fear that this family didn’t exist. That she would walk up to the front door, be greeted by a Hannibal Lector type, then swiftly murdered. Me being there was a sort of safety net: in case this family, whose identity hadn’t been verified through Care.com, did turn out to be a murderer, at least I’d [...] Read More

What’s Wrong with Airbnb’s New Verified ID System

How much information are people willing to surrender in order to improve their own safety? A pertinent question, given the uproar over the recent NSA leaks over top secret data mining and surveillance programs. Of course, Airbnb is not the NSA, but they’ve been facing a similar dilemma since their new Verified ID system launched at the end of April in an effort to promote trust and safety between Airbnb guests and hosts. Instead, it triggered a backlash among some users and may have done more harm than good. Basically, the new verification system requires Airbnb travelers to submit a form of offline identification, either their passport or photo ID, along with access to their Facebook or LinkedIn profile in an attempt to match users online and offline identification. Users that do not satisfy the online ID requirements are then asked to submit a short video introducing themselves to other [...] Read More

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