Couch surfing is so overrated.
I found this site today that floored me. It seems there isn’t a month that goes by that I’m not given to amazement at what is possible with the power of the Internet.
Seriously. I mean… this is 2010 right?
I’m sure everyone has heard of Couch Surfing right? It sort of made a surge in the hippie/grunge/loser set maybe in the early 2000′s.
Basically people (or rather… folks that could be categorized as gypsies, vagabonds, wanderers or maybe a classification of ‘homeless’) started using Criagslist to bum couches to sleep on in the absence of available resources and hotel rooms while traveling.
I’m sure there was more than one modern day hippie love story that came out of the couch surfing craze of the 2000′s… heck, they even made a website out of the concept.
But, as do all working, relevant concepts on the Internet, it has matured into something that is slowly creeping into the mainstream and becoming something that real-life, everyday people are doing.
It’s called http://AirBnB.com.
Now, the only reason this has actually taken off and matured is because people have been privy to, or subjected themselves to, what I’m going to coin as the ‘Currency of Trust.’
Basically, the Currency of Trust is the conglomeration of online ‘Social Proof’ that one develops through the continued use of reliable, sustained, online social sites.
Things like your eBay profile and comments, or your PayPal rating, your FaceBook and LinkedIn profiles… all of these are contributors to the concept of the ‘Currency of Trust’ and as a result, people are now able to cross the bridge from the online trust to the offline trust… simply because there are so many sites and systems in place that it is virtually impossible (or very difficult) to deceive people online.
Social Media has been a boon for this concept.
It is now entirely possible to get to know someone, understand where they are coming from and what they are about simply by tracing their online history and accounts from that transaction they had on eBay where they sold that old 8mm Video Camera, to the fact that their FaceBook profile reveals their wife, their mother, their hometown, high-school sweetheart (and friends) and much more… enough to get a bigger picture of who the individual is that you are dealing with.
Now, I’m not saying that just because you can check someone out online, you can get a real understanding of who they are, and what they are about, and what kind integrity they are working with; but I am saying that you can mine enough data to make the binary decision as to whether they are trustworthy or not.
i.e. enough to sleep on your couch.
Interesting story here… I am part of a group called Social Media Club Hawaii… in March of 2009, I attended one of their meetings at the wonderful ING Cafe in Waikiki where I lived at the time. Well, this particular meeting I had an opportunity to meet a guy named Ken.
Ken and I instantly hit it off. For some reason we just connected. You know what I mean?
He got me, I got him, we talked about everything from smart electric grids to twittering meaningless statistics in the course of 15 minutes. Well, unfortunately, I had a Barbecue that I had to rush off to, so I didn’t have much time to talk to Ken, but we decided, based on the fact that we enjoyed that short chat, that we should connect on FaceBook.
So we did.
Well, turns out Ken and I had a lot in common. In fact, as I considered buying my next property, I shared a little about it on FaceBook, and it turns out Ken (who happened to be working in England at the time and based out of Hawaii, go figure) was looking at buying a new place similar to what I’d found.
So he did.
Today, Ken and I are neighbors. And because of Social Media, we developed our ‘currency of trust’ where we where able to learn enough about each other, recognized that we had a lot in common and probably would be great friends in ‘real life’ for Ken to make a significant financial decision to live, basically next door.
How’s that for ‘social proof?’
So anyway… I digress… I mean, I tell that story with the aim of helping you, dear reader, understand that for the savvy online user today, there are many many ways that the Internet is actually making the New become Old again… and what do I mean by that? Well, I think as a society, we went through a period from when trust was sort of a given in the 1800′s… to when people didn’t trust anyone in the late 1900′s… well now… you can simply ‘Google’ someone and you can find most anything about that individual… from their High School, to their Prom Date, to their preferred Sushi restaurant.
So back to http://AirBnB.com.
This, is a site that integrates with FaceBook, so it’s easy for the room owner/renter to get the ‘skinny’ on who the owner/renter is of the property. (let’s face it, you can learn a lot about someone based on their interactions on FaceBook)
And as a result, their is an online cottage industry of sorts that has developed simply over the fact that people have spare guest bedrooms sitting dormant on a daily basis, and now, they can find people (travelers) who are willing to try them… simply because you look like someone they can trust and vice versa.
So my friend, Couch Surfing has come a long way.
The wifey and I are heading to LA in October for a wedding, and we may just give this concept a try.