Tuesday, July 12, 2011


neigh*borrow is proud to offer free digital cameras to anyone who want's to use one for the day, even two. The cameras are public, and for the summer, the photos are too- as part of a public art project.

Here's how it works!

  1. tweet "@neighborrow, I want a public camera http://bit.ly/yswcmr" or just click HERE to see if one of the five cameras is available for pickup. (right now we have only one pickup location in Battery Park, perfect if you are on your way to see Lady Liberty. We are adding dSLR's soon)
  2. If there is one available, all you need to do is agree to the terms (basically that you will return it) and take your picture holding the camera, that's your library card. 
  3. Then feel free to use it however you wish- during the public pilot program, all photos from the cameras automatically go into this gallery.
REQUEST THE SPECIAL SHOCK PROOF CAMERA by clicking "tweet" (not the counter number)

Intelligent Design.

We said it from the beginning, we didn't invent sharing, we are just making it easier. Trying to, anyway.

Every day, I think about ways to solve that problem; how do we make it easier and more worthwhile to share ownership of the things we don't use all the time?

  • Is the solution in software; does it need to be easier for people to list and search for things they need and find relevant results? Maybe.
  • Do we need to preach the virtues of sharing and what it does for communities and the planet, not to mention- our wallets? That won't hurt.
  • Do we need to build tools and mechanisms to help strangers trust each other more. Definitely. 

The more I think about it though, and the more time I spend talking with other smart folks in the space and engaging with users,  the more I am convinced that the biggest factor that will really push sharing mainstream is a new physical infrastructure; both the items being shared and the physical mechanisms that allow these items to be shared need an upgrade. They need a more intelligent design that makes it easier and worthwhile to share. 

For example; I recently "brokered" a bicycle transaction on neigh*borrow. (from time to time I get involved in a transaction to meet the folks using the site and to see how we can improve the platform). A lovely couple (from our neighbors in the attic), were visiting NYC for the weekend and wanted to borrow a couple of bikes. They knew about neigh*borrow, were able to request bikes, find two separate lenders, and everyone involved in the sharing ballet played their role to perfection. I was thrilled! Everything was perfect, except for one thing. Literally. The bike. 

THESE bikes weren't shareable. The size was off. The performance wasn't what borrower had hoped for. Locking it was burdensome.  This bike wasn't designed to be shared. But that doesn't mean bikes can't be shared. In fact, I think bikes are one of the things that can be shared best! The solution is in the infrastructure, not the people or the web.

Enter sites like SoBi. They understand the true root of the problem and are doing their part to build an infrastructure to make bike sharing easier. The bikes are one size fits all. They are more durable and weatherproof. And of course, they can be locked and unlocked, tracked, reserved and paid for using the latest in mobile technology and GPS.

Right now, things are designed not just for obsolescence as I have quoted before from WMIY, they are designed for individual ownership. I think that is changing thanks to innovators like Sobi, GetAround, and so many others.

To do our part, to highlight the "new infrastructure of sharing" and to to pay homage to the NYC CollCons folks, (Shared Squared- coming soon), neigh*borrow is proud to introduce a project we are calling Public  Cameras. Or maybe we'll go with the cheesier, "yes WE cam(ra)"! Similar to the wonderful and popular Street Pianos, we are offering free cameras for the public to use, in New York City.

You know you've always wanted to try one of those long lenses the pros use at the ball game. You don't want to buy one, and you don't want to lug it around all week, but you know you want to try it for the afternoon while you're at the Statue of liberty, or in Central Park or just people watching in Soho. With PublicCameras, you will get that chance.

These cameras are meant to be shared. They come loaded with a special memory card that tracks the location of the camera, and auto uploads the photos to a gallery, in the cloud, over wifi. There is no need to upload any files, and for now during the pilot program, there is no need to pay!

VIEW the public, collaborative gallery! 

These cameras are meant to be shared, and we are working on cameras that are designed to be shared. You will be able to pick up the cameras in convenient places all around the city and unlock it with your credit card, using technology similar to how the SoBi bikes are unlocked. The cameras will charge and upload the images (over wifi supplied by KeyWifi) to a private, individual gallery, when they are returned to their proprietary dock.

Not only designed to share, they will be impossible not to:)

Then look out for public drills. The drill, remember is the poster-child for CollCons, we buy them because the infrastructure to share them is lacking. Soon, you will be able to walk around the corner, and unlock a drill with your iPhone the same way you grab a copy of the Village Voice! The same way people used to buy their lunch, automat style!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Myths about borrowing

At neigh*borrow we think that clarity will go a long way in helping people embrace the new sharing economy. So we want to help clear up a few myths about borrowing.

Myth Number 1: Borrowing = Free

Borrowing does not necessarily equal FREE. Borrowing refers to the fact that you are going to return it, it has nothing to do with pricing. You are borrowing everything you rent, but you are not necessarily renting everything you borrow. The perfect item to borrow is something that you do not need to use all the time, regardless of whether you need to use it ONCE or ONCE IN AWHILE. We know better than to try and re-write the dictionary or try and re-teach our audience about the definition of a word- the point we are trying to make is that borrowing is not about a price, it's about access. It's about "velocity of use". Since a drill is used infrequently on an individual basis, the goal is to get it used frequently, collectively; regardless of the underlying motivation.

We are getting a whole bunch of feedback about pricing. Some lenders want the option to make a few bucks when they lend something out. Some just want to lend things to support their community and do good deeds. Both are perfectly awesome reasons:)

Again, the economics are secondary, anything that motivates you to USE AND SAVE rather than OWN AND WASTE is our goal..

So next time you think of borrowing, think FREquency, not necessarily Free.

-thanks to Cameron Tonkinwise for his wise feedback

Myth #2 - borrowing is just for people who can't afford to own... (coming next week)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Looking to borrow a soldering iron. Filled in 2 seconds!

We have been seeing some great stuff happening in our Seattle facebook group recently, but nothing as cool as the offer that was filled in 2 seconds.

We have always admired the efficiency and scope of Freecycle. It is a great organization that provides free items to people who need them and keeps these items out of land fills. I've heard many times of the efficiency of a simple yahoo email list; when something good is listed, it GOES, FAST.

I was curios to see if the same thing could happen in the opposite direction, and it did!

Conventional wisdom suggests it should be no surprise that where there is a giver, there are takers. But would the same be true for people just asking for stuff? Even if they are not offering direct compensation? The answer, which we were pleasantly surprised with, was yes! In 2 seconds flat.

I think it could be a sign!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A rose by any other name

Is it underused asset utilization? Collaborative consumption? Allocative efficiency? Idle capacity reduction? Fractional ownership? Timesharing? 

Or is it just sharing?

When multiple people use the same asset, it's just sharing. And it's just smart. Hotels aren't known as "p2p room sharing networks" (for good reason)- but it makes no sense to buy a whole new house when you go on vacation for a few days, or to bring your existing house with you. 

Access is the new own. Assets will (should) be more like that famous coffee commercial, "good til the last drop".

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Get your viral url ID here...

Some of you are starting to discover a great new tool we are using to introduce people to new features and upgrades on the site. Rather than keep it running in the background, we wanted to introduce our integration with LAUNCHROCK.com and how it will affect your experience on neighborrow.

If you already have a group or if you are already verified, your account most likely will not be affected, but we still would LOVE IT if you go to v2.neighborrow.com and get your unique URL and use it to invite people to the site.

If you don't have an account already, we are using this tool to manage how new members can access the site.

As a site that relies on not only geographic proximity but social proximity for exchanges, as well as a critical mass of users in each "neigh*borrow-hood", launchrock is a perfect fit for us.

If you try to create a group or borrow something and are redirected to v2.neighborrow.com, don't despair, it's super easy to get started and these tools help us keep the community close knit and thriving.


  1. You will be directed to v2.neighborrow.com and asked to enter your email
  2. You will receive a unique url
  3. Post this url anywhere you can- Lauchrock tracks the people who follow that link and sign up because of you
  4. The more people you get to sign up, the more quickly you will gain access yourself. We will also have contests and upgrades based on your invites. 
  5. You can check your progress (Launchrock is a 3rd party site we can't touch the numbers) by going back to v2.neighborrow.com and seeing how you are doing.. We will post the exact number of invites needed to reach your goal (for example, you need 8 to start a group)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011