With the alpha version of “Sharings,” we’re laying the foundation to turn GNU social into the distributed standard of the Sharing Economy.
Collaborative consumption allows everything from car-sharing to go to work to exchanging hours of language practice, from offering babysitting services to offering hospitality to people who speak other languages or are part of our network of hobbies. It’s all set of demands whose satisfaction is key to weaving social cohesion.
Dozens of centralized platforms have tried to turn these demands into a source of business. The main business model and way of monetizing was the monopolization of the tools to incentivize and facilitate these kind of collaboration and exchange practices and relationships.
If a group of friends or neighbors was looking for a platform to begin to share objects or services, they couldn’t install their own platform, personalize it, and start to respond to demand for exchange. They’d have that resort to one of the centralized services, which means losing their autonomy and control over their relationships. As we know well, centralization always betrays.
A free and distributed standard for the Sharing Economy
One of the main challenges for the first GNU social Camp was to develop an alternative to the centralization of the collaborative economy using GNU social, a free standard for the development of distributed web applications.
Over the days of the event, we developed the first prototypes, but above all we overcame the limitation of seeing GNU social as a mere alternative for microblogging. Starting there, we’ve been releasing pieces for an “operating system” for the collaborative city.
First was WP-GNU social, and then SocialCapital. Today, with the release of Sharings—a plugin for GNU social—we’ve taken the first big step towards promoting a distributed alternative to the centralization of the collaborative economy.
Sharings: a plugin to share objects and services on distributed networks
This new plugin creates the possibility of adding objects and services to GNU social to share them with the users on your node or, if they’re on other nodes, connected to you through federation.
The result is a catalog of objects that the members of the node offer to share, which may vary from node to node, depending on their users’ connections. Sharings is still in alpha, but it already allows you to share objects, and other users can show interest in the object that you’ve shared and get in contact with you to agree on the details of the exchange.
In this version, the modeling of the objects and services is very simple. Every object or service is identified by a name and detail space where you can explain everything about the object or service you’re sharing and give details on exchanging. Communication between the one who’s sharing and the interested party, for the moment, is public.
To continue development, we need to make progress on integration with Qvitter, create tools to edit the shared objects that include the ability to upload images and a more advanced search function, to be able explore the catalog comfortably.
But we also need to decide some even more basic things, like if we should do a more complete modeling of objects and services, and if communication between the one who’s sharing and the interested party should be private, at least after a certain point.
But the important thing is that the platform can already be used to share all manner of things. The alpha version already works without a problem in laMatriz.org and will federate with no trouble when other nodes include the plugin. Feel like creating your own catalog of things to share?