How the Internet fosters trust, community and–if you’re lucky–friendship and a free place to stay…
Six years ago, when I began working on what is now CarbonCopyPRO, I wasn’t consciously thinking about the new explosion of collaborations and virtual communities fostered by the web. I was acting out of instinct and a desire to help others pursue the kind of success that I’d achieved from a pretty organic place. My intentions where quite pure, and primitive. Monkey see–monkey do. (Maybe I should have chosen MonkeySeeMonkeyDoPRO, buts that’s a different topic:)
Anyways, since then, countless articles have been written about the rise in sharing, renting, lending and cooperative labor of all sorts made possible by the interweb. Back when our grandparents were young, it was normal to stay with friends and people you knew when going on a trip, rather than paying $200 a night for a mediocre hotel room. (Or $475 if you are coming to NYC!) People hitchhiked and borrowed tools from their neighbors. But gradually, a culture of paranoia seized the country, created in part by industries that want you to rent new cars and store your stuff in expensive storage containers instead of sharing it or giving it away.
The web is changing all that. MeetUp, Twitter, Facebook, CouchSurfing, eBay, SnapGoods—sites like these have brought people together over the web. But more importantly, they’ve created opportunities for people to meet up and collaborate in person. Online communities are a great thing, but they work best as gateways to personal interaction and, with luck, friendship.
An article in the Times a few days ago, titled “Neighborly Borrowing, Over the Online Fence,” addressed this topic. Increasingly, the author writes, start-ups are basing their business model “around allowing people to share, exchange and rent goods in a local setting.” The common theme in the businesses featured is that they allow consumers to share goods, instead of demanding that they buy them.
As one expert cited in the article says, “Paradoxically, the Web is moving us back to a human-centric business model.”
What is the binding factor in this new movement? Trust.
Before you invite somebody to sleep in your spare room for $40 a night (as people do through the room-share site Airbnb.com), the web allows you to vet them through eBay comments, Skype, email, etc. Brilliant! But once the trust is in place, and a person’s reputation established, it’s possible to take the next step.
While reading the piece, it occurred to me that this is what we’re doing at CarbonCopyPRO. We’ve created an online network of driven, creative, intelligent people who, through web conferences, interaction, and technology-assisted interactions, have gained one another’s trust and respect. They feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, business strategies, and personal advice with one another. Eventually, they meet each other in person at conferences and meet-ups around the world, and learn about each other’s lives. And at the end of the day, they’re left with a solid, supportive group of friends and hopefully in a harbor of sorts where the tide is lifting all the boats simultaneously.
(Ok, this past part may be a little optimistic, we all have to earn our own success, but you get the point.)
All the best,