This Week in Sharing: Urban Design, Car Sharing, and Open Source

Everything about our lives is shifting right under our feet. And it's all moving toward more shareable models. From the food we eat to the cars we drive, new and improved ways of moving through the world in a collaborative fashion continue to emerge. How exciting is that?!?

One of the greatest examples and reminders of this trend keeps coming to us from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The people left in the storm's wake are rebuilding their lives, many from the ground up. And they are finding that the social fabric of their communities is just as — if not more — important that the physical infrastructure of their towns.


Concept Plan: Highlighting waterfront reconfigured with marshes, tidal defense berms, hydroponic farms and floating neighborhoods; areas for highest density development outside of flood plains; and thoroughfares turned into soil channels providing water run-off, new public spaces and light-rail routes. Photo credit: University of Michigan.

Another by-product of the storm can be found in the new forward thinking being done by city planners in New York. Hurricane Irene actually started this particular ball's rolling, but Sandy has shoved it right along. Now, the urban design of one of the world's most important cities is being reconsidered through the lens of climate change's impact.

Once again, the sharing economy has taken a left turn into the mainstream with the news that Avis is purchasing Zipcar. With a price tag of just under $500 million (or $12.25 per share), Avis' purchase of Zipcar with it's 11,000-car fleet was a 50-percent premium over it's December 31, 2012 stock market close.

But the WonkBlog doesn't see this all coming up roses for the Zipcar community: "The real issue in these deals is culture. Zipcar has a way of doing things that is particularly appealing to the young, hip urbanites who walk, bike and use public transportation most of the time and don’t own a car. ... Everything about the company — from its marketing to its customer interface to its rules — supports that brand identity. The only way for Avis to realize its over-promised cost savings will be to force Zipcar to consolidate the two operations and become more like Avis in everything it does." And there's the rub.


Ubuntu's soon-to-be-unveiled mobile technology aims to let users boot their PC from their phone. Photo credit: Ubuntu.

Open source fans will likely love the news that Ubuntu will soon be entering the smartphone fray. The phones — which are expected to emerge in 2014 — aim to not only bring the Ubuntu mobile OS to bear, but also allow you to remotely boot up your PC. Maybe this innovation will finally tip the masses toward open source technology.

In other open-source technology news, Linux is coming off a pretty great 2012 with hopes of topping it in 2013. Company founder Linus Torvalds won the Millenium Technology Prize, and that was just the beginning! Red Hat, Android, jQuery, and other projects also knocked it out of the park for the open-source tech leader.

Libraries and other education ventures have also faired very well by adopting the model, tech, and principles of open source. For example, in 2012:

  • 280 libraries migrated to Evergreen
  • 225 libraries migrated to Koha
  • 114 libraries migrated to OPALS
  • 2 libraries migrated to ABCD
  • 2 libraries migrated to OpenBiblio

Beyond that, though, open source is creeping into education at an incredibly brisk clip on both the back and front ends, from school management software and free student software to open enrollment and open education.

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