What we do
Since the dawn of time man has sought progress and evolution as guidelines of growth and prosperity, as goals to be lived upon.
Little did we take into consideration our planet´s limited resources, as our fast growing population feeds a growing, ever reckless consumption.
As we grew faster and faster, so did our consuming habits and addictions... with ever changing lives of comforting gadgets, clothes, cars, medications... These products we all have craved for and consumed. Yet only a few have stopped to wonder.
And it is these growing wonder and questions that 350BCN has come to represent (http://world.350.org/350bcn/). Normal citizens who wonder if together, and organized, we could actually help shifting our consumption habits.
350BCN is part of 350.org, we are a group of citizens from Barcelona, who have come together for a common goal. We aim to make the transition into a sustainable lifestyle, and make it a reality in our lifetime.
We know politics is biased by big corporations, and legislations are made to feed an unsustainable consumption - a fake growth - of the world´s limited resources. All this to benefit the few. We also know that ultimately, it is down to the consumer and its choices, who is the base of our whole economical (and some even would say political) system.
If we change our consumption habits into sustainable and informed decisions, we believe we could make the industry change to satisfy its real customers’ needs.
Give a real value to things
The purpose of this crowdsourcing project is to assess the functioning period, or in other word the lifespan or lifetime of objects. The motivations behind this project are many: to create a weapon against marketing (i.e. iPhones, etc…) and try to give and get a more realistic value (valoration) of all the things we buy in our everyday life, answering only time-related questions, effectively evaluating “planned obsolescence” of objects.
HowLongDoesItLast.org wants to become the reference website when looking for alternative valoration (in this case “time”) of all things: gadgets, gears, hardware, softwares, tools, instruments…
The idea of this online platform came from many secondhand sales/buys experiences where arguments are always scarce but important.
Crowdsourcing around the idea of time
However, HowLongDoesItLast.org/CuantoDura.org/CombienCaDure.org is not platform looking for the definite real value of things as this is something very hard to calculate, and some would even argue “personal” sometimes. It’s rather crowdsourcing one single parameter: Time. This, and the fact that it is crowdsourced, is what makes it relevant.
Think global, Act local
The reach of the website is global, which requires a multilingual website (English, Spanish, French can be first considered) so that people all around the world can use this service.
A traditional infrastructure using a dedicated server to host the app made in PHP/JS/HTML5/CSS3, is a good and cheap alternative. The app is a mix of OpenSource web frameworks like Laravel (backend) and Angular.js (frontend).
But distributed architecture for scalable data management, flexible performance and data processing can also be considered for the future. Open Source, scalable technologies like Scala, Spark and Cassandra for the database, are also a good alternative. This kind of software architecture usually fits cloud services like Amazon Web Services for high but flexible performances.
A generic thing
The parameters of the thing that will be assessed - the main object of the platform - are the following:
- Category* - What type of thing do you want to record (select input with categories and subcategories)?
- Brand of the thing* - What brand is that thing?
- Model of the thing* - What model is that thing?
- Name of the thing* - What’s the name of that thing (i.e. My Laptop Macbook 3.1) ?
- Location of the thing (countries) - Where was it mostly used?
- Frequency of use - How often a week/month/year was the thing used?
- How long did it last - here, we’re simply asking for its real time of use before replacing it (i.e 4 years 3 months 12 days or Calendar feature)* - How long did it last?
- Years before it started bugging (i.e 4 years 3 months 12 days or Calendar feature) - How many years did it last before it started to bug?
- Tick that box if it got physical damages v
- Tick that box if it was repaired v
- Hardware component that started bugging first - What hardware component started to bug first - in case of tablets and phones, select box inspired from modular product conception like https://phonebloks.com/ ?
- Software component that started bugging first - What software component started to bug first?
- Year of manufacture of the product (Model) - What year was that thing made in?
- Years of guaranty/support - How long does the manufacturer give support/guaranty to this thing? Guaranty/warranty/support.
- Reference: optional - reference number (to earn extra “trustworthy points”).
- Proof of the thing: optional - Please add a picture of you with the thing, if you can… to earn extra “trustworthy points”.
- Link to video: Optional - link (url) to a video, a review or picture of the user with and about that thing to earn extra “trustworthy points”.
- Comment - Any thing to add ? Comments, possible reviews of the product, links...
The design is directly inspired from StackOverflow, especially for its voting/trustworthiness features.
Leveraging Social Media users
Users are not able to register. They have to use their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and StackOverflow accounts to login, and ideally, the web app should first check that the account in question is more than 6-months old and that it has been active at least once in the last three months.
Our data model: Amazon ;)
The data published is anonymous but open, for anyone to exploit. The structure of the database uses the same categorical structure as the one for big websites like eBay or Amazon.
Why Open Source matters
The code of the platform is a mix of Open Source technologies fit to manage big amount of data (PHP/MySQL or Scala/Spark/Cassandra and Angular) for efficient data processing.
The idea to release the code as Open Source seems like the right approach as the concept and structure of HowLongDoesItLast.org could be used to create and replicate similar crowdsourcing platforms. They would ask the public about, for instance, other pharmaceutical, fashion, transport or cosmetic-related issues or try to answer any other time-related questions. The source code could be shared on Github, for instance, when finished.
Data to trust?
The trustworthiness of the data shared on the website is assessed by a serie of parameters from variation-to-the-norm to the user’s profile and review (i.e. through the use of pictures showing the user with the gadget), among others things. The process of data validation is automatic after verification.
In the future, the development of an automated validation process, evaluating the relevance of each review/entry can be considered to effectively give a note to the review. Future integration of AI features to check the validity and trustworthiness of user inputs and pictures can also be considered.
When reaching https://howlongdoesitlast.org, the user is asked to login straight away. Once logged in, users can add a thing that they wish via a review form . A guided system is first considered, to guide the user into different funnels/directions, depending on his data inputs (i.e. different funnels for cooking gears or for smartphones).
Users can also access other screens presenting the database as a list of all the reviews of all things showing the data of all reviews in a table. There is another screen showing each review/entry in the database. Furthermore, there is another screen for each thing, regrouping all reviews on this particular product or “generic thing” (i.e. iPhone). On this page, the year of model and other parameters can be filtered. This screen lists all the reviews and shows an average of all parameters and an index of reference, positive or negative, taking all parameters into account. This index can be calculated comparing how long (in years) this particular object lasted to the average of the same item and the one of an item of the same category, how does it usually lasts (further AI features are considered for this screen). Same logic could be applied to long-lasting support/warranty items and manufacturers.
Users have a list of all of their own reviews and votes on their profile. They can edit or delete them at will.
- Form (How long does it last - Home)
- List of things (db)
- Single review screen
- Single product screen
This initiative is Open Source and the data - anonymous - is open for the use of anyone.
A funny features could be added, for a short while (i.e. 5 months - Beta period), to create a media Buzz at launching. That extra feature would let users evaluate people or other animals (Man/Woman/Other), so that users fill in the form just like an object, for purely social and comical purposes.
Business model : ethical advertising
On the long term, affiliate marketing campaigns via ad banners (i.e. Google ad network - Adsense) can be considered, to find funding for the hosting, development, maintenance and marketing tasks required. These affiliate campaigns have to be ethical and promote a set of values from recycling to repair and second-hand shops.
Thoughts and inspiration
“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.“
“Nobody knows the real value of things anymore”
Get up, Stand up - Bob Marley
Our social impact
With this project, we want to support ethical manufacturing, ban bad manufacturing practice like planned obsolescence, infuse and promote best practices in terms of gadget manufacturing and promote a more objective value of things, away fromc onsumerism and marketing, giving a voice and tools to take informed decisions to the consumer.