Welcome to the modern world, much like the old world

Wired has an interesting piece on how digital firms such as Airbnb are pairing up people with something to rent with strangers who want to hire something.

Getting trust and confidence in such pairing systems is crucial as Wired says:

Manit, a freelance yoga instructor and personal trainer, signed up in August 2012 as a driver for Lyft, the then-nascent ride-sharing company that lets anyone turn their car into an ad hoc taxi. Today the company has thousands of drivers, has raised $333 million in venture funding, and is considered one of the leading participants in the so-called sharing economy, in which businesses provide marketplaces for individuals to rent out their stuff or labor. Over the past few years, the sharing economy has matured from a fringe movement into a legitimate economic force, with companies like Airbnb and Uber the constant subject of IPO rumors. (One of these startups may well have filed an S-1 by the time you read this.) No less an authority than New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has declared this the age of the sharing economy, which is “producing both new entrepreneurs and a new concept of ownership.”

However, Wired over-eggs the novelty of this future when it says:

Many of these companies have us engaging in behaviors that would have seemed unthinkably foolhardy as recently as five years ago. We are hopping into strangers’ cars (Lyft, Sidecar, Uber), welcoming them into our spare rooms (Airbnb), dropping our dogs off at their houses (DogVacay, Rover), and eating food in their dining rooms (Feastly). We are letting them rent our cars (RelayRides, Getaround), our boats (Boatbound), our houses (HomeAway), and our power tools (Zilok). We are entrusting complete strangers with our most valuable possessions, our personal experiences—and our very lives. In the process, we are entering a new era of Internet-enabled intimacy.

Helping a stranger? That’s not new. That’s traditional hospitality, once widely practised and still common in many parts of the world, especially rural ones.

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