“Do you really need a power drill, or you just need a hole in the wall?”

by Ariana Stolarz

This year’s PSFK Conference in San Francisco brought together an interesting blend of speakers to discuss issues in innovation, design, creativity and communal participation. In a nutshell, three memes surfaced throughout the day: the ideas of 1) Purpose—as in always design with a purpose, 2) Perspectives—in contrast to mono-cultural views, and 3) Commons—as in disperse but together we can build trust, facilitate sharing, and enable community.

Following up on some of the concepts discussed by Caroline Woolard in class (OurGoods.org and Trade School), Micki Krimmel, founder of NeighborGoods, shook the crowd most eloquently:  “Do you really need a power drill, or you just need a hole in the wall?”—A shocking fact: the average lifetime usage of a household power drill is only twelve minutes. (Check Noah’s post, published on 10/4!).

Joe Gebbia, Co-founder behind Airbnb, also talked about collaborative consumption and the role of the middleman. Most discussions (and Botsman and Rogers’ What’s Mine is Yours) agree that collaborative consumption examples share another common element: direct links between producers and consumers, bypassing the middleman.  However, what if we see these practices as the emergence of a new middleman? Airbnb intermediations present new characteristics, for sure. Yet, these new middlemen are in essence, connectors between a mutuality of wants and lacks.  What’s different this time is not just a matter of scale. The Internet’s architecture is designed to enable collaboration between non-related human beings who don’t even share a common locale. New notions of trustbetween strangers amend old definitions of collaboration, in particular, the idea that rules could mainly be enforced within tight circles of friends, families and acquaintances. As discussed in class, today’s examples of collaborative consumption, where reviews and ratings are published for the rest world to see, represent repeated plays of the prisoner’s dilemma. In other words, the incentives for defectors to pursue their goals are low when compared with the risks associated with being excluded from the game. (Airbnb is now offering professional photography to help make renting out your space even easier, and also as part of the verification of a property. Read more here).

Gerald Richard’s talk was unquestionably captivating. Gerald is the founder of 826 National, a nonprofit organization that provides strategic leadership, and other resources to ensure the success of its network of eight writing and tutoring centers. Its main goal is to foster literacy among kids. In Gerald’s own words, “It’s not home. It’s not school. It’s a place that kids own”.

Gerald shared this video with the audience:

More about 826National…

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