What we do
As technological progress has become the center of our economic growth and prosperity, it has increased our need for things.
Little do we take into consideration our planet’s limited resources, as our fast growing population feeds an ever more reckless consumption.
As growth has accelerated, so have our consuming habits and addictions: with ever changing lives full of comforting gadgets, clothes, cars, medications. We have all craved and consumed these products. Yet only a few have stopped to wonder.
And it is this growing wondering and questioning that 350BCN has come to represent. Ordinary citizens who wonder if together, and organized, we could actually help shift our consumption habits.
350BCN is part of 350.org: we are a group of citizens from Barcelona who have come together to work towards a common goal. We aim to make the transition to a sustainable lifestyle, and make it a reality in our lifetime.
We know politics is biased by big corporations and legislation is made to feed a fake growth that is an unsustainable consumption of the world’s limited resources. All this to benefit the few. We also know that ultimately, it is down to the consumer and their choices: we are the base of our whole economic (and some even would say political) system.
If we change our consumption habits to sustainable and informed decisions, we believe we could make 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 words, the lifespan of objects. The motivations behind this project are as follows: to create a weapon against marketing (e.g. of iPhones); to infuse good manufacturing practices and support to companies and to try to give and get a more realistic value (valuation) of all the things we buy in our everyday life, by answering only time-related questions, thus effectively evaluating the “planned obsolescence” of objects.
HowLongDoesItLast.org aims to be the reference website for alternative valuation (in this case “functional time”) for all kinds of things: gadgets, gear, hardware, software, tools, instruments, and so on.
The idea for this online platform came from many secondhand sales and buying experiences where information is always scarce but important.
Crowdsourcing around the idea of time
HowLongDoesItLast.org is not a platform that aims to supply a definite real value of things, because this is very hard to calculate, and some would even argue “personal”. Instead, the platform is crowdsourcing a single parameter: time. We believe that the platform’s focus on a single parameter and the use of crowdsourcing is what makes it relevant. It also aims at giving and getting a more relatively objective value of all things.
Think global, Act local
The reach of the website is global, which means that it must be multilingual (English, Spanish, French can be considered first) so that people all around the world can use this service.
A traditional infrastructure using a dedicated server to host the app made with PHP/JS/HTML5/CSS3 is recommended as an inexpensive and dependable system. The app would use a mix of Open Source web frameworks like Laravel (backend) and Angular.js (frontend).
For the future, a distributed architecture for scalable data management, flexible performance and data processing could also be considered. Open Source, scalable technologies such as Scala, Spark and Cassandra (for the database) are also a good alternative. This kind of software architecture usually fits with cloud services such as Amazon Web Services for high performance and pay per use.
A generic object
The parameters of each thing that will be assessed, which is the main aim of the platform, are the following:
- Category * - What type of thing do you want to review (select input with categories and subcategories)?
- Brand of the object * - What brand is this thing?
- Model of the object * - What model is this thing?
- Year of the model * - What year was the thing made in?
- Name of the object * - What’s the name of that thing (e.g. My Laptop Macbook 3.1) ?
- Location of the object * (select list of 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 showing problems (e.g. 4 years 3 months 12 days or calendar feature) - How many years did it last before it started to show problems?
- Tick this box if it got physical damage v
- Tick this box if it was repaired v
- Hardware component that started having problems first - Which hardware component started to have problems first? - in case of tablets and phones, select box inspired by modular product conception, such as https://phonebloks.com/
- Software component that started having problems first - Which software component started to have problems first?
- Years of guaranty/support - How long does the manufacturer give support/guarantee for this object? Guarantee/warranty/support.
- Reference: optional - reference number (to earn extra “trustworthy points”).
- Proof of the object: 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/or about this thing to earn extra “trustworthy points”.
- Comment - Anything to add ? Comments, possible reviews of the product, links, and so on.
The design is directly inspired by StackOverflow, especially for its voting/trustworthiness features.
Leveraging Social Media user accounts
It has been first considered that users are not able to register directly. They have to use their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or StackOverflow account to log in, 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
The data published is open for anyone to exploit. The structure of the database uses the same category structure as the one for big websites such as eBay or Amazon.
Why Open Source matters
The code of the platform is a mix of Open Source technologies fit to manage a large 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 series of parameters from variation-from-the-norm to the user’s profile and review (e.g. through the use of pictures showing the user with the gadget), among other 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 score or grade to the review. Future integration of AI features to check the validity and trustworthiness of user inputs and pictures can also be considered.
When the user arrives at https://howlongdoesitlast.org, they are asked to log in straight away. Once logged in, users can add a thing using a review form. A guided system is preferred, to guide the user into different funnels/directions, depending on their data inputs (i.e. different funnels for cooking gear or for smartphones).
Users will also be able to access other screens presenting the database as a list of all the reviews of all objects showing the data of all reviews in a table. And there is another screen showing each review/entry in the database. Additionally, there would be another screen for each object, regrouping all reviews on this particular product or “generic thing” (e.g. iPhone). On this screen, the year of the model and other parameters can be filtered. This screen would list all the reviews and show 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, for how long it usually lasts (further AI features are considered for this screen). The 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.
Summary of Screens:
- Form (How long does it last - Home)
- List of objects (DB)
- Single review screen
- Single product screen
This initiative is Open Source and the data is available for anyone to use.
A funny feature could be added, for a short while (e.g. 5 months during a Beta period), to create a media Buzz at launching, or for example, during the exhibition. This extra feature would let users evaluate people or other animals (Man/Woman/Other), so that users fill in the form just like the one for an object, but for purely social and comical purposes.
Business model: ethical advertising
In the long term, affiliate marketing campaigns via ad banners (i.e. Google ad network - Adsense) could be considered, to obtain funding for the hosting, development, maintenance and marketing tasks required. These affiliate campaigns would need to be ethical and promote a set of values from recycling to repair and secondhand 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
As an Open Source, crowdsourcing web project, HowLongDoesItLast.org aims at changing habits of consumption of people around the world, shifting the way they consume and engage with things, tools, gadgets. And all this in democratic way, as it inspires itself from platforms like stackoverflow.
This project was last updated 3 months ago