The antidote to socially-mediated dislocation: the infinite neighbourhood
Somehow, something as seemingly mundane as an ‘online errand service’ is helping us discover surprising new ways to support each other
A TV, a phone and home-delivered Pizza was all it took to keep a significant proportion of the population from stepping outside their front door unless they needed to do something essential that nobody offered to do for them. Now online errand services, by filling even that remaining niche, seem to offer the worrying prospect of consigning the very idea of neighbours and neighbourhoods to ‘socially mediated oblivion’. In fact, they may be having the opposite effect.
Getting people to bid online for doing local errands doesn’t exactly sound like it has much to do with changing the way we think about the people who live near to us. But from listening to the experiences of TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque, it sounds like they have transformed what would have been the motivation for an exciting commercial venture into something more akin to a mission to transform society.
The idea is that ‘errands’ have proven (against expectations?) to be the basis for a ‘socially connective tissue’ which was just waiting for a suitably enterprising innovator to discover and build a system which makes it work.
Leah mentions collaborative consumption as a relevant issue:
Here’s something which gives an insight into the social side of TaskRabbit