[…] It would be easy to argue that this change is restricted to post-scarcity items: products that can be encapsulated digitally and copied an infinite number of times. However, this is not the case. In the summer of 2010, the New York State legislature – heavily sponsored by the hotel industry – cracked down on residents subletting rooms as unofficial hotel rooms and advertising them on open markets like airBNB.com. If you visited a strange city and didn’t have a place to stay, hotels were once a handy gatekeeper: for a price, you could generally trust their safety, cleanliness and comfort. In the age of truly open markets with built-in metrics for trust and accountability, anyone can offer a room, and as a result, the days of the global hotel chain may be numbered. Whereas brands were once symbols you could judge products by, there are now more direct ways to determine quality. Once, you were limited to commercials you had seen or articles you had read. Now, you can ask everybody.
There is a revolution ahead of us. Music distribution models, the market for hotel rooms or where someone can publish an article are all part of a prelude to a far bigger change: a switch from political parties and the politics of aggregation to individual politics driven by the people. Imagine an open market for politics – both politicians and political ideas themselves – that incorporated similar trust metrics to those used to safely find independent hotel rooms, where individuals didn’t need the support of parties, unions or global businesses to have a chance of being elected or having their ideas incorporated into the democratic process.
This is my chapter for The Future We Deserve, a collaborative book about creating a future that we deserve. I plan on writing much more about gatekeepers and the effect of the Internet on established power structures in the future.
If you’re in Edinburgh on Friday, October 29th, I’ll be encouraging entrepreneurial hopefuls to smash gatekeepers and empower users as part of Launch48, where I’ll be both a speaker and a mentor. I hope to see some of you there.