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Alex Steffen, 15 Apr 06

Here's a cool project that speaks both to walkshed technologies and product-service systems -- Sharer!. As Regine explains:

Sharer! connects borrowers and lenders in a same neighbourhood and allows them to earn money by securely renting out objects they seldom use to others in their area. Users can upload pictures, give description and browser other people object through a website. The system works in collaboration with the postal system and the postman is the point of contact to the lender. A series of secure electronic lockers are the transit point for the object and the borrower picks up the object and deposits it back there after the loan period is up. Besides, as each item lent has been fitted with an RFID tag, the owner can follow on a website the use of the object.

If one of the paths towards sustainability is defining ourselves by the stuff we use, not the stuff we own, Sharer! points the way to that path by showing how local technology can help local people share more effectively, to the benefit of everyone involved.

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Too bad there's no "there" there. It says something about details being available in "April 2005"!

It would be nice if there were something there to, well, share! I'm about to implement a similar system for an intentional community, and would like nothing better than to simply install some open source code, or at least review a prototype.

If anyone has more information (other than available via the links posted) on this or other sharing systems, please contact me!

Posted by: Jan Steinman on 15 Apr 06

Well, yes, Sharer! as a project is clearly in the conceptual shake-down phase. But there's enough there to get the idea, and tools like this are proliferating rapidly.

We'll be following up when more info is available.

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 15 Apr 06

This seems like a nice project for a group!

Posted by: cityzenjane on 15 Apr 06

why do they need to go through the post office is what I want know? It just seems like you're slowing things down, when you could go ahead and open it up and then just sell the rfid tags directly to members that want to track their shares. This does seem like vaporware, but still now that people are aware of it someone will probably make it, or hack craiglist to do it etc.


Posted by: andrew jones on 16 Apr 06

This is actually a very good idea, and I'd love there to be a similar service for books. Ordinary good old paper books.
(Of course, books are very personal, but when they're shared, they can become conversation pieces in themselves.)
Sharing might be a great way to enhance the social cohesion of our individualist communities. How often do you talk to a neighbor that lives 3 doors away? Not often. The mere idea of exchanging and sharing objects increases social traffic (and trust and a sense of community), which is very important in our days.

Posted by: Lorenzo on 16 Apr 06

Lorenzo, several services already exist for posting books you have and want to trade or get rid of. is the one I use.

Posted by: andrew jones on 16 Apr 06


Posted by: Tom Brown on 17 Apr 06

The Sharer! project looks interesting, but may have stalled a bit.

Ironically, this idea is strikingly similar to - a kind of product lending marketplace with a mission. Participants are in step with the concerns many of us have around our consumer lifestyle & its environmental consequences. The site encourages free social-sharing, but also contemplates a wide array of 'paid borrow' (aka rental) transactions in the future - on which the revenue model hinges.

The site is at
The blog is at

There are an array of other sites that allow different types of 'alternative trading'. Here are a few (most feature media swapping):

Posted by: Sean Young on 18 Apr 06

Some of these sites you mention (e.g. zunafish) take a cut of each transaction. Isn't that like a potluck dinner where you have to pay the organizer if you want some potato salad, pay again before you grab a chicken leg and pay again to eat the peach cobbler? It's a tax on barter.

Posted by: Tom Brown on 20 Apr 06



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