Though city life has long been associated with increased solitude and loneliness, the requirements of urban living in the 21st century is giving new meaning to the concept of community, especially in how we ask for help from others. “What makes us human is that we use goods, services [and even ideas and perhaps emotional effects] to create relationships with others. Sharings and exchanges create ‘social indebtedness’ to ensure long-term relationships and demand reciprocities,” Genevieve Bell, Director of Interaction and Experience Research at Intel, told Forbes in July 2012. In February 2013, Tomio Geron wrote in Forbes that estimated revenue flow of the share economy into people’s wallets is expected to surpass $3.5 billion in 2013, with growth exceeding 25%.
In a trend we are calling Community Outsourcing in our Future of Home Living report, PSFK Labs looks at how person-to-person services are enabling individuals to tap into the valuable skills and availability of people within a community to help accomplish personal tasks and errands. These cooperative networks are built on mutually beneficial relationships and exchanges, helping people manage cumbersome or last minute aspects of their lives when they don’t have the time, energy or knowledge to do it on their own, often at little or no cost.
One example of community outsourcing that PSFK Labs has identified is the London-based collective Fixperts, an online platform that connects designers with people who need help solving everyday problems. The idea behind the project is to match designers who have practical know-how with anyone who needs assistance with specific challenges. Designers pay house visits with the intention of developing a solution to the problem in no more than three weeks. Design solutions so far have included a device to help an MS sufferer put in her earrings and fixing the broken joystick on an electric wheelchair. The process is filmed and uploaded to their website so the lessons learned can be transferred to the wider community. Fixperts positions itself as part of a wider return to fixing or ‘hacking’ products, rather than replacing them.
Another example of this community outsourcing trend is MamaBake, a community of mothers who cook big batches of food together so that, at the end of the night, each person goes home with a few meals to serve her family that week. The scalable model began as a small group in Australia, and has since sparked communities worldwide.Participants gather for approximately three hours per week to cook large meals. At the end of the session, each big-batch meal is divided up amongst the participants so that each woman goes home with a variety of homecooked meals to serve their families. The service saves mothers from kitchen duties as well as brings women together building a community centered on food.
Communities like Fixperts and MamaBake fall under a larger theme we’re calling On Demand, which points to networks and systems are growing to help city residents enjoy their lives on their terms and at the speed they want.
PSFK has announced the latest in a series of trend reports. Following studies into retail, social media, gaming, work and mobile, the PSFK Labs consulting team have generated the Future of Home Living report. That report manifests as a free summary presentation, an in-depth downloadable PDF and an exhibition in New York City that runs to August 16.
RSVP below to take a tour of the exhibition at 101W15th.