Getting the people back on local networks as a zero waste strategy

local community

The zero waste approach seeks to eradicate the heavy-polluting processes and habits around the consumption of goods in general. Relying on local supplies and production is key to minimize the local communities’ reliance on external industrial systems. Developing tools to favor communication within local communities is key to helping the zero waste movement reach its goal. No local communication vehicle = no local shares, no local trades.

A few websites/apps already exist to fulfill that need. Most of them are apps for neighbors, enabling members of a neighborhood to interact through online networks. While they all bring some value to this seeding sector, they’re all replicas of Facebook in their own ways, and they all fail to invent a dominant geocentric paradigm to social networking. Other location-based social networks cater to social events. There’s a lot of apps in that arena, all being really creative to become the next game breaker for public venues. But when it’s last call and venues close for the night, so does those apps that only enable local networking during ephemeral gatherings.

In my life experience, I’ve often been drawn to the issue of zero waste and local communication tools. Moving from country to country teaches you that you don’t need that much “stuff” to live. It teaches you it is way cleaner to consume locally than to import all of your favorite products. It makes you realize that you don’t need to personally own something to use it, that it is clever if most home appliances belong and remain within the community (and not just in your garage or kitchen). But to integrate local processes, I need a tool to get in touch with the local community I live in. From experience, living in a neighborhood doesn’t mean that you feel like a member of a community. I rarely befriend my neighbors, not that I don’t want to, but geographical vicinity doesn’t mean social vicinity, and that’s particularly true if you are a shy foreigner in the country. There needs to be a medium for locals to be connected and share information on a practical level, otherwise sustainable local communities will remain an utopia forever.

Empowering local communities with a dedicated communication vehicle is key to unleash the advent of a global location-based economy. Since no such tool dominates the market, and since the global economy crushed local economies as a whole, everything has to be built from the start. That means the first versions of the product need to provide a very simple yet friendly service to get the people back on local networks.

The million dollar homepage model

million dollar homepage

The million dollar homepage was one of the brighest ideas for making cash in the early days of the web. Created by a student to fund his education, the million dollar homepage’s concept is simple: on a 1000×1000 pixel page, he sold pixels at $1 a piece. It worked and the student made a comfortable $1 million out of this simple idea.

The student, Alex Tew, is the first to admit that his idea can only be applied once : the page got PR traction because of its novelty, but novelty is the only reason for attention. Any other attempt to build a 1 million dollar homepage should fail because the novelty traction has already been used.

A few updates on the million dollar homepage since launch in 2005 : Sales of pixels stopped January 2006 (thus $1 million gathered in 138 days), the last thousands pixels were sold through eBay, and 22% of the pixels’ links were rot as of 2014. A few links also redirect to spammy websites. Alex Tew said he had to hire help to process all the orders for ad buys during the time of operation. Alex Tew is now heading a personal health tech company. He tried a Nothing For 2 Minutes concept, the OneMillionPeople concept, he created the humor website Popjam that got closed and acquired… One can tell that Alex Tew would himself love to reiterate his one-million dollar stunt.

Alex Tew was right to explore other forms of iterations of the one million dollar homepage. By picking another type of support and another way to pay, maybe the idea can be duplicated in other forms.