Apps like Uber
(along with hundreds of other examples) are bringing that immediacy into the physical world. Tapping on your phone will summon an internet genie who will appear in the real world with the solution to your problem (or with the thing you just ordered). Meanwhile, out here, I can’t get a pizza delivered!
Here’s an idea. It won’t get me all the way to First World nirvana, since I choose to live outside the delivery radius of just about everyone. But it might get some of us collectively a little bit closer to the 21st century that others are experiencing.
First, create a co-op, a non-profit with a real legal identity. Give it a mailing address, so that parcels can be shipped to it.
Second, sign up your neighbours to be members of the co-op. Give each of them an ID number.
Third, agree with your other members that if you are in the area, you will pick up the co-op’s package deliveries and drop them off at your neighbour’s doorstep. If that is not likely to happen, or as a backstop, pool your membership fee and pay someone to deliver your packages to your doorstep. An app could track who’s doing the work and pay out a reasonable amount, or you could provide some other credit in the app to encourage people not to freeride.
If you are shipping something fragile or expensive, or you want to maintain some privacy from your neighbours, you can ship directly to yourself and pick it up yourself. But for the majority of packages, this gets you home delivery at the expense of a little extra work once in a while.
This could be replicated anywhere, or a single app could scale by being location-aware and grouping members within a reasonable geographical area. It depends on trust, but it also leads to interactions that facilitate trust.
argues that in the internet era, control of demand is more important than control of supply. We in rural areas are often subject to monopoly providers (of internet access
, for example) or lack of providers (like pizza delivery). If we work together, we can accumulate enough demand that we can change things, making supply economical. Maybe this newsletter can be the seed of something new.
If this has made you think and you want to comment, FirstWorldRural
now has a forum
in place - sign up with your email address. I’ll try to make sure the forum is moderated and worth visiting. If you want to join the First World Rural Co-op, things will likely be happening in the forum.