Technology and Sharing
Sharing is an old-fashioned idea with a lot of high-tech potential. Here are some of the technologies that are making sharing more and more convenient for everyone:
- Matchmaking Websites. Websites such as Craigslist (online classified ads) and GoLoco (a ridesharing match-up website) can be used to quickly connect people who want to share.
- Social Networking Websites. Social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Ning.com are great ways for groups to form, communicate, and keep track of information.
- Online Calendars. By using online calendars that give multiple users access, sharers can schedule use of a shared item, plan to take turns doing child care, or arrange mealsharing, for example.
- Online Mapping Programs. Online mapping programs have been used to help sharers find each other. In a handful of cities, especially in Canada, people use programs such as Google Maps to make connections between people with spare yard space and people who would like a space for gardening.
- Databases. Databases make it possible to keep track of a lot of information efficiently, which is essential where there are a lot of sharers or shared items involved. For example, a grocery buying club can use a database to keep track of inventory, orders, and club member purchases and payments.
- Access Technologies. These technologies make it possible to control access to a shared item. For example, the bike-sharing program in Paris provides each member with a membership card and account. To access the bikes, members swipe a card. The system tracks how long the bike is used and bills the bike use to the member’s account.
- Global Positioning System (GPS) Technologies. GPS allows people to know their location and to map it in relation to a sharer or shared item. GPS is being tested as a way to facilitate ridesharing by matching drivers and passengers instantly using cellular phones. GPS can also be used to track the location of a shared item, such as a lawnmower or car.