Mapping resources using open knowledge

Mapping resources using open knowledge

photo credits: Brittany Stevens - CC-BY

yeah! it took a bit of time but I finally got a working prototype \o/ :

some background:

(tl;dr: just go there and try it!)

In 2011, I started to talk about a project named booksurfing: this was all about sharing books between friends and neighbours. I talked about it a lot - that’s what you do when you’re the “marketing guy” - but I couldn’t find the means to make it happen technically: finding a full time technical associate is kind of hard when you have neither cash nor experience. Plus, I was unable to understand the underlying complexity, which is very frustrating when you want to make plans or just have constructive discussion with those doing the job.

So time passed, I left Paris for Ingolstadt (Bavaria) to finish my studies and the project slowly died. Ingolstadt isnt exactly Berlin regarding web ecosystems, and I had still found no one who could do the technical job for me, while I was drinking champagne with investors, like in those startup stories they tell you at Startup Weekends.

But the idea wouldn’t die, it even got worse: writing my master thesis about what could ethical marketing mean , I reinforced my convictions that we, citizens, need new tools to handle information on resources: ones where communication between vendor and customers are less asymmetric - what Doc Searls calls VRM tools. And I then wrote that this had to start P2P: we need to craft tools to handle our P2P transactions in the way we would like our B2C transactions to be handled, so that we let businesses enter those exchanges platforms only if they accepts our terms. And the first rule should be that information on resources should be based on decentralized/contributive open-knowledge: all the information you hunt on search engines on how one can change the battery of a given smartphone or where to buy a spare part for this old -whatever-, you shouldn't have to hunt for that, that should ship with your digital bill when you first buy it! Countless other examples of how beneficial open-knowledge could empower consumers and citizens in their daily transactions. That’s very much possible with the web, we just need to work for it.

So back to France in 2012, I’m still looking for the technical associate that will grant my dreams. Comes 2013, and still no lead. That will never happen. I guess just as you can’t write Science-Fiction without doing Science, you can’t make technical utopia without learning the thing. So I start learning. Two years in a cave. Figuratively speaking, sometimes the cave was very nice and friendly. Their was the Northern Europe cave, the East Paris cave, the Saint-Victor de Buthon cave… I went from Python, to Ruby, to Javascript. I installed Linux, replaced all sorts of rounded buttons by handmade bash aliases. Biggest achievement that year: starting an upgrade on my computers calls Wagner Valkyries to the rescue. You got to start somewhere.

When you're not into it, it’s difficult to see how much web development in the opensource era is a fascinating world: probably one of the most intellectually dynamic domain of our time, crossing mathematics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, history... And then trying to solve puzzles all day long. Feeling that you get more and more skilled. But also more on more conscious of the infinite field ahead of you, while you keep turning your back to the outside world, hiding from the sun.

Boom, it’s 2015. What happened to 2014? I’m still not sure. Most probably my travelling cave was moved to this black hole planet in Interstellar, I’m still looking for evidences. But, at least, I came back with some basic skills and a first working prototype: it’s all about mapping available resources between peers with open-knowledge. Starting with books, again: books are awesome, everyone loves them and there are plenty of (more or less open) data on it.

Now I need your help!

First of all, two years in a cave talking “prototypal inheritence” and shit, I’m not sure I still know how to talk “human”: help me spread the news! :)

Then, start using it!

Then, was it the complexity of the subject, missed opportunities or just my own clumsiness? I don’t know, probably a mix, but I have been far too long alone on this project and it can’t go further like this: I hope this prototype will make my struggle clearer and that you or people you know might want to join the walk! There are plenty of things to do: web design, system administration, communication, animation of beta testers communities, finding funds that are not VCs, building an horizontal organization empowering the project while being rooted in the community it serves, bring peace to the middle-east, end poverty and climate change, and many more I can’t think of. That can’t be that hard. Get in touch and tell me how I can help you to contribute!

Catch it! Make it yours!

Finally, if you meet someone contributing to free softwares or open knowledge, say thank you from me, give her a kiss or pay her a beer: the world is fucked up but they walk a path of hope :)

article cross-posted at

09 Feb. 2015

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