Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Us Now", British documentary on the Internet commons, comports with Frontline's "Generation Like".

Ivo Gormley’s one hour documentary “Us Now”, shot in London in 2009, traces the online activities of some ordinary adults as they use the web to procure and offer services in innovative ways.  This is not about self-broadcast or self-promotion; it is about life and cooperation. 
  
As the film opens, a young man arrives in London (I think this is Giles Andrews) from the US to stay in a home and sleep on a couch he had reserved through “Couch Surfing”  (link ).   Maybe this concept supplements the old idea of youth hostels, popular for students traveling in Europe.  (Yes, I’ve seen both “Hostel” horror movies.)

Soon, we’re following other activities, like soccer games of a team Ebbsfleet United, owned by its fans, and Zopa, a bank where everyone is a “manager”.  (Actually, many banks used to inflate the titles of their employees anyway.)
    
Other efforts get mentioned, such as “Slice the Pie”, a vehicle for funding new music albums, “The People Speak” and “Directionless”. The obvious comparison would come from Kickstarter or crowdfunding sites. 

The new paradigm pretty much eliminates political parties and their fiefdoms, something Jesse Ventura has long wanted to do in the U.S.
  
All of this puts some obligation on the participants.  If you help the couch surfers (and use the service), you have to keep your home or flat presentable.  Not everyone has time to do that.  In the US, there’s an adhoc service where people can let others rent their cars while they travel by air.  And it’s possible to rent your home short term – a lot of people do this with beach properties, and is that what timeshares have always been about?  And think about how Zipcar works, taking up more urban parking spaces all the time.  I personally love the idea of bike share. 
    
There is, indeed, a new idea that we can do well ourselves by doing good (outside the corporate state), and that value is found in whether something helps other people, not just in short term profits or numbers.  Are “likes” the new barter?  Not exactly, because we can get caught up in counting those, too.

  
The film (official site) comes from Banyak and IndieFix.  I watched it on Amazon Instant; it was free to Prime subscribers.     
  
The film could be compared to the PBS Frontline report “Generation Like” (reviewed on the TV blog Feb. 19), and the book by Glenn Reynolds, “An Army of Davids” (reviewed on the Book review blog Feb. 19), as well as Rohit Bhargava’s “Likeonomics” (Books blog, Dec. 19, 2012). 

Wikipedia attribution link for Twickenham Stadium, rugby, London. Looks like quidditch. 

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