How Technology, Crowdsourcing, and You Will Power the Individual Economy
It’s 2014 and you are walking down a crowded London street, searching for a small restaurant known for their bangers and mash. Your Google Goggles guide you as you make your final left and then duck into the the antiquated eatery and take in the scents that prompted your friends to socially tag this little known spot as a “must hit”. As you sit down into chairs built for a previous generation, you look up and notice a small, but wonderful painting. You snag a photo (via a voice command or eye gesture) through your Google eye-wear, add a positive caption and in a patterned blink, share the painting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, G+, Pinterest … and one more, and very interesting place, Zaarly.
Within minutes of your share you see the comments rolling in from friends who didn’t even realize you were in London and commenting on the odd little picture of a picture you took. But beyond these social comments, you also begin to receive market notifications from painters who live close by your apartment back in Eugene, Oregon. These painters, via the Zaarly marketplace, are able to share with you, through a thoughtful and seamless UI, their portfolio, their community or marketplace ratings like reliability and client satisfaction rankings, and their pricing for various size paintings they are offering you. Keep in mind the painters aren’t offering you an existing work from their gallery (though of course they could), but rather they are offering you a brand new painting based on the image you provided.
You are attracted to a certain artist’s style and find her pricing right in the range you are willing to pay for a unique piece of artwork. You request a phone call, which she obliges and after the short discussion is over, you’ve agreed to purchase a painting. The application requests for you to approve the transfer of funds which you OK, and as the approval commences, the artist brings the first stroke of alizarin crimson to canvas. By the time you get home from London in 42 hours, she’ll be meeting you at the corner Starbucks, with your brand new painting.
This above is the individual economy. Powered by technology, crowdsourcing talent, and you, this transaction represents a bold new way forward for all participants.
Zaarly Anywhere API and the March to Hyperspecialization
Yesterday, as reported on GigaOm and other outlets, Zaarly released their “Zaarly Anywhere” API and by doing so set off in motion what you just read above, or at least something like it. Zaarly, for those who don’t know, is a user friendly market-place to source specialized talent or experience. Perhaps you need a housekeeper or a cross-fit trainer, or a gluten-free chef who can help you craft a new dietary regimen. Whatever the need, Zaarly can seemingly help you source the individual who can best help.. This crowdsourcing of individual skill-sets isn’t new at this point, but Zaarly’s intuitive applications have earned special praise. And now, with the release of “Zaarly Anywhere”, it really opens up the possibilities for how this market place will function and be tapped.
Please note, the current API doesn’t go nearly as far as what was suggested in the leading paragraphs. The API instead allows people to browse the web, to browse fun sites that offer DIY solutions & hacks and to then bring that idea to the Zaarly marketplace to find out how much it would cost to have someone, with the specialized skill, bring it to life for them. A neat example is how IKEA will be using the Zaarly Anywhere API. IKEA has a niche site, catering to the DIY community that showcases how individuals have hacked their products and created brand new products and user experiences out of these innovative hacks. First, kudos to IKEA for having the forethought to not only encourage the hacks, but then to provide a branded site around the hacks to showcase the work back to IKEA fans. It’s plain smart and deserves a tip of the cap. While perusing these fun hacks, it’s safe to assume that the vast majority of individuals couldn’t actually do it themselves, and that’s where the Zaarly Anywhere API comes in. You see something you like but can’t get done without help, you click a button and the Zaarly community is alerted to this new job or task. It takes the idea of crowdsourcing tasks (like securing a landscaper or hiring someone to stand in line for you at the DMV) and pushes it much further and faster towards sourcing individuals with specialized skill-sets.
Pressing the Technology Fast Forward Button
As niche evolves to next and Google Goggles become something we don’t just see Sergey Brin wearing to premieres, then it’s logical to conclude this type of API, that taps the always-on marketplace of individual skill, will start to include the physical world, not just the digital. A back to the future renaissance will occur where the digitization of the physical realm – via augmented reality applications and hardware advances – will allow humans to play with their non-digital surroundings like never before.
More sharing and better data and data sharing applications will lead to a boom in this individual economy. Companies like IKEA who clearly understand the path will flourish, while other stalwarts of the physical today may not pivot quite so elegantly and just might face hard times ahead.
Finally, there is a great reason Wall Street is supposedly pressuring Facebook to launch a “want” button to supplant or bolster the current LIKE button to drive new transactions through the Goliath network. But the question has to be asked, did Zaarly just release a better LIKE? And, because of their growing community and clear shift towards ever more specialized skills within their crowd, are they better positioned going forward to drive this new social economy?
What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments below or on Twitter @TopCoder.
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image credit: ikeahackers.net, topnews.in, joseph-abes-abely.blogspot.com