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Is the Sharing Economy Set Up to Help or Turn a Profit When Disaster Strikes?

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, August 15 2014

Faces of Airbnb hosts who offered free housing during Hurricane Sandy (screenshot)

During Hurricane Sandy, many users of peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb and TaskRabbit offered free housing or reduced prices to victims of the disaster. But others took advantage of those in need and raised prices. Can the sharing economy resolve its inherent contradictions? Read More

First POST: Dueling

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 7 2014

The RNC's hopes to reach young urban Uber-users; the DCCC's science of small-donor fundraising; a new mobile app for voter information launches; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Power Shifts

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, June 3 2014

#ResetTheNet starts to gain momentum; how Facebook could tilt an election; #BringBackOurGirls gets banned in Nigeria; and much, much more. Read More

Visions of the Sharing Economy Present and Future from NYU Conference

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, June 3 2014

An act of sharing unmediated by a P2P network. Credit: Ben Grey, Flickr

Friday's conference on the Collaborative, Peer and Sharing Economy (let's say CPSE for short, though CollaPSE is a tempting acronym) at NYU's Stern School of Business was an attempt to reckon with the so-called sharing economy, its potential and its contradictions. Everyone agreed that peer-to-peer networks are changing markets for lodging (Airbnb), transportation (Lyft and Uber), commerce (Etsy, Ebay), and potentially other parts of the economy like finance, and healthcare. Views over the extent of this change differed as panelists explored the new economy's potential as a business, its fraught relationship with regulators, and its capacity to transform society. Largely moderated by NYU Stern professor and sharing economy booster Arun Sundararajan, the conference provided an opportunity to see what those working within, or at least dealing with (as in the case of regulators) the CPSE thought of their own work. Although many speakers took the transformative potential of the CPSE as more of an article of faith than evidence, on the whole, the conference provided insights into how the economy might work, and the impact it might have. Here are a few highlights: Read More

Uber Drivers Organize Themselves in Seattle, Other Drivers Look to Do Same

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, May 27 2014

Seattle. Credit: Bala Sivakumar, Flickr.

About 9 months ago, Daniel Ajema, a 33-year-old law student moonlighting as a driver for Uber, ran into a fellow driver in a gas station parking lot. The man had just been fired for getting poor ratings from passengers. But as a private contractor, like every other driver for the app based transportation network, he had no recourse to the company. What could he do? Two Sundays ago, a couple hundred Uber drivers provided an answer, by forming a labor group with the help of the local Teamsters union, called the App-Based Drivers Association. The group won’t have the full powers of a union, for instance leadership can’t vote to make its entire membership strike. But with about a third of Seattle drivers signed on, the group hopes to use its leverage to advocate for greater transparency and responsiveness from the $12 billion company. Read More

Airbnb Gives Up New York Data, Won't Give Up Regulatory Fight

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, May 22 2014

Just over a week ago, Airbnb public policy honcho David Hantman wrote a note to users titled "Good News In New York." A wide reaching request for user data in New York by the attorney general had been defeated. "This is a great victory for our community," wrote Hantman. Over a week later, the victory is over. While Airbnb loses for now, the company and its opponents are readying for a larger battle about the New York law that regulates short term rentals. Read More

How Bike Share Data Can Share Your Identity Too

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, April 17 2014

Map of a London bike share commuter's travels made with public data.

One of the benefits of opening civic data is that it can provide a detailed picture of who is using what service. This can be a vital tool for planners and bureaucrats allocating ever scarcer resources, and a boon to ... Read More

Airbnb Tries To Be a Model Corporate Citizen With Shared City

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, March 27 2014

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky in 2011 Photo credit: @Kmeron

Yesterday in a post on Medium, Brian Chesky, the CEO of short term rental platform Airbnb announced a new city based company initiative in Portland, Oregon called “Shared City.” The initiative is an an effort by Airbnb to become a model corporate citizen, and also to atone for subverting civic regulations which helped grow the company into the $10 billion goliath it is today. Read More

First POST: Fingerprints and Fire Insurance

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 18 2014

How the NSA and GCHQ targeted WikiLeaks, Anonymous and Pirate Bay; why collecting Americans' phone metadata is just like fingerprinting and buying fire insurance; how the paper lobby is hoping to keep the government from going online; and much, much more. Read More

New Knight Report Maps Growing Civic Tech Ecosystem

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 4 2013

Investor networks in civic tech, per Knight Foundation report

The Knight Foundation has released a fascinating and valuable, if incomplete, report on "The Emergence of Civic Tech: Investments in a Growing Field." It's the first major effort I've seen to define and map this growing space, and covers 209 companies that have received funding since 2011 in its purview. Read More