The Homeless house cleaners of the sharing economy

If this NY mag article is to be believed you can hire house cleaners who are themselves homeless via www.homejoy.com a San Francisco based startup that has received $40 million in funding. Guess this says a lot about how out of whack the bay area real estate market is, but that is not what the article is about. Instead it tries to shine light on another issue, namely the fact that many recent startups (many of them falling in the broad (and equally meaningless) ‘sharing economy’ category) offer…

Equipopulous Europe

I am strangely fascinated by this map that depicts the European Union as 28 equipopulous member states (although i would rather imagine this as administrative territories rather than as states): Twenty-eight equally sized European Union Member States, by Alasdair Gunn Of course this is utterly unrealistic as (re)drawing borders has been one of the most destructive activities in the history of humanity. So the only way to improve on the current situation would be to do away with border altogether…

Capital or the erosion of the social farbric of the city

This is the second book i have read this year that has the words ‘capital’ and ’21st century’ in its title. While this smells a lot like free-riding on the popularity of the other book, it is not [1]. Capital by Rana Dasgupta chronicles the last one-and-a-half decades of the Indian capital Delhi. It is a mix between encounters (not in the indian sense of the word) with (moneyed) inhabitants of Delhi, snippets of history and more abstract reflections on the city in an globalized world. It is a f…

Imaginary suburban futures

Friday morning when we left the cab that had brought us and our newborn from the hospital the mail carriers on their bicycles where swarming out around us (we live 3 houses down from a postnl distribution location where the mail for the neighborhood is transferred from delivery vans to bikes). Having spend some of the waiting time in hospital reading Alex Madrigal’s Atlantic feature on Google’s delivery drone programme this made me briefly contemplate if our daughter would grow up to see a world…

You can't invade a country and eat its chicken

Rijsel does the best rotisserie chicken in Amsterdam hand down. Every time a have one of those i am reminded of an interview with a US soldier who served in Iraq in 2006 during the height of the first Iraqi insurgency. In this interview the solider spoke of how he hated paroling the streets of Bagdad in his armored vehicle unable to step out into an urban environment that was considered to be too dangerous for dismounted operations. His contempt for the Iraqi population was greatly enhanced by…

This is wrong on so many levels...

… that it is difficult to decide where to start. I came across this par of adds in tuesday’s paper (the smaller ad on the left hand was on the front page and the the bigger one on the right was on page 7): For those not able to decipher dutch, this is a an add for a crowdfunding project that claims that ‘an app for granny’ is ‘the solution for healthcare austerity’ and encourages readers to donate toward the further development of the the healthcare-phone app. Apparently this app would allow old…

Local != local (or how not to position urban renewal projects)

Earlier today on the A-train Saturday morning we paid a brief and very disappointing visit to De Hallen, a new multi use space constructed in a former tram depot in Amsterdam west. The entire complex, which is still under construction, is nestled within a dense residential neighbourhood, next to a daily street market. Once fully operational it will contain restaurants, a food hall, shops and workspaces, a branch of the municipal library, a bike parking and yet another upscale hotel. The concept…

On organisations stunning ability to absorb nonsensical claims about technology

So i have finally managed to finish Adam Greenfield’s Against the smart city (i had lapsed soon after this picture was taken). The book is well worth reading and contains a number valuable insights but there is one passage that stands out for me. Towards the end of the book (or pamphlet as Adam refers to it) he explains why his method of examining the language of marketing and promotional copy of IT vendors is important even though the same vendors, when challenged on the claims contained in it…

How the Bitcoin protocol could help ‘improve’ copyright

Couple of weeks ago i posted the observation below on my tumblr. reposting this here since i have just come across an article in Slate (‘How the Bitcoin Protocol Could Help Improve Copyright‘) that makes the interesting argument that what i characterized as an ‘evil’ property might just as well be turned into something really useful. have been thinking a lot about this short exchange from a planet money podcast on bitcoin from a few weeks back. Makes me suspect that the one bitcoin that i am kee…