Stuff has been occurring since my last post on freecycling and an update is somewhat overdue.
Firstly, the genius ethical-social-media guys at Dharmafly have put together OpenFreecycle at Yahoo’s OpenHackLondon to win the top two prizes. This massive Yahoo! endorsement is great stuff and very encouraging for my own little project.
I’ve now open-sourced this hacky swing at it with the carefully non-trademark-infringing name: freelist2web. There’s also a demo installation. Sadly, if you go there you’ll notice the most recent posts are starting to age. This is because I was banned last week from the Birmingham Freecycle Group (also from the Birmingham Freecycle Cafe Group). I queried it to hear that a member had complained after finding his posting on it. I’ve offered to limit post information to group members and hope when the Group owners get a chance to confer we’ll find a way that benefits everyone.
The obstacle is disappointing since I’d taken care to obscure e-mail addresses and assumed that Freecycle posters wanted their message to reach as many people as possible. I’ve tried to make my case on the OpenFreecycle blog post which I recommend as a place to carry on discussion about moving Freecycle on from a closed mailing list.
I’m still passionate about the principle of freecycling, if not the current dominant implementation. I think local community building through resource sharing is a fundamental social instinct that hasn’t yet found an online platform. I’m still bookmarking interesting sites like vSkips, GoodNewsForPolarBears and JustForTheLoveOfIt.
Without a critical density of users it’s an uphill struggle though. Maybe Facebook could be a cable car with a well-integrated app? The Facebook marketplace – now powered by Oodle – is already a reasonable service that allows you to give stuff away, support a cause or request stuff within a radius of your location.
In case any data junkies want to get a snapshot of freecycling activity in Birmingham over the last few months, I’ve made the post metadata available. Would love to see some cool data visualisation or mining insights.