Trustroots in action

First months live for Trustroots has been tremendous! In this very short time over 5000 members have joined the community. The feedback we’re receiving is very encouraging.

(Trustroots is our latest non-profit project — read introduction.)

We’ve kept quite low profile so far to sort of beta test the code and see how it performs. All the early issues are now pretty much fixed and as a next step we’ll want to build some features that help the site function better with larger user base.

So far Trustroots has been the most barebone and simplest thing we could imagine that still works well for hospitality exchange. Already in early days these guys and many more had good experiences:

In March we established the Trustroots Foundation and during the winter we’ve been gathering feedback and figuring out how to facilitate hospitality exchange in new ways.

Recently Kasper, Callum and I were interviewed by Marlene Göring. She was writing an article about hospitality exchange for a renowned German newspaper.

Our more established projects were mentioned this month also at Vice and Newsweek.

While these projects get more attention, there has always been plenty to do and fix. I would love to see a few talented programmers join our teams at any of these projects. I guarantee loads of fun times and interesting challenges. Drop me a message if you’re interested and I’ll tell you more!

PS. This winter’s Hitchwiki rewrite has not been forgotten — just dozen other things have taken mine and other’s time this spring — I’ll try to hurry up a public demo as soon as possible! Hold on tight. 🙂

Life outside the Big Blue Box

It’s not that everyone needs to stop using Facebook but those who actually communicate with friends, participate in communities and organise real life meetings really should start using something else as well. The rest could spend less time looking at stream of pictures and random blurbs, but for that Facebook is really ideal. Just like television.

I wrote what Facebook means to Trustroots on our blog.

We see Facebook as a possibility (and a threat) to our new travel network.

Presently about 70% of the users have connected their profiles to Facebook and/or Twitter. We also received some criticism from the loud minority for this feature and thus I wanted to elaborate a bit more reasons behind our thinking.

Read more about Trustroots.

Introducing Trustroots

I’m excited to start a new project for hosting hitchhikers. My friends, let me introduce you Trustroots!

Me and other hospex activists are creating a new volunteer based gift/free-economy project. While hosting will be at the core of Trustroots, it’s not limited to it.

This project started from an idea to create “Hitchwiki Hosts”. We were frustrated with CouchSurfing and later with BeWelcome not really moving forward, and thus we decided to act.

For now Trustroots is very simple. You can create a profile and see other travellers willing to host or meet on the map. Map format works great for hitchhiking and for rural hospitality.

Eventually Trustroots will be “suitable” also for broader audience but at first we’re focusing mostly on hitchhikers. In the future you could join other communities such as “geeks”, “digital nomads” or whatnot. You could choose to host travellers from, say “hitchhikers” and “geeks” only. We’ve been running something called “hackercouch” for geeks inside GitHub. It’s a fun hack but shows well how there’s a need for all sorts of specialized hospex platforms.

Trustroot is a non-commercial OpenSource project with strong ideals, just like our other projects HitchwikiNomadwiki and Trashwiki. While our wikis are projects for collecting knowledge, Trustroots will be the community platform for them. It’s not a startup.

Our aim is to create a more solid non-profit legal base later down the road. Hitchwiki is backed by German hitchhiking club Abgefahren e.V. and Trashwiki/Nomadwiki are independent projects run by Kasper, me and Philipp. Kasper and Philipp started Hitchwiki back in 2006 — I joined the gang in 2008.

We will need a lot of help from everyone to test, code, design, plan, organise volunteering and legal base structures, and so on. Please let me know if you would like to help in any way!

For those wondering why I’m not helping BeWelcome anymore; I’ll be elaborating more about this later. In short; we were doing our best volunteering for BeWelcome. While it’s an awesome project, it has its problems behind the curtains. After a year or so me and many others left the project. We thought we can be way more efficient on our own.

I wouldn’t like to call this an alternative for CouchSurfing or BeWelcome (although it de-facto is), because it sets a little bit negative and rebellious tone for the project. Additionally in the future Trustroots might be more than just a simple hospex-map. I’m thinking in terms of combining data from our other projects, free ridesharing, borrowing bikes etc. But that’s the future and I have my long term vision:

Somebody said: “I would love to see hitchhikers leave CS and FB for their chats”. I promise to work hard to make this happen. Might take a year or two but eventually, slowly. (via)

Subscribe to my newsletter or RSS feed to read more of my thoughts.

Now go ahead and try Trustroots!

Hitchwiki hackathon @ Turkey

I have big plans for the winter! We’ll rent a flat from Turkey and rewrite some code running Hitchwiki — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hitchhiking the World.

Me and Rémi have been planning for a while to do big rewrite of Hitchwiki.org’s wiki and maps. Wiki is good old MediaWiki (which we want to keep) and Maps is custom PHP code-jungle written by me one summer years ago.

It’s finally time to rewrite it from the scratch and make something like this:

This is quite early preview and it’s missing many things such as ratings, but it gives the basic idea what we want to achieve.

DONATION CAMPAING

We’re doing the rewrite this December 2014—January 2015 in Turkey. We will rent a house together for living and working.

To cover some costs we’re asking some donations from the community. Check it out and spread the word!

Who wants Hitchwiki stickers?

Hey! Do you want some awesome stickers with a thumb to decorate your computer, bike or a pole at the hitching spot? Drop me a message and I’ll send you some.

These are very nicey square 7x7cm stickers. They’re not superduper quality nor long term weather resistant (I printed them very cheapy) but they’re just fine.

And this is how they look. Pretty cool eh?

Drop me a message at mikael@ihminen.org or elsewhere and tell me your postal address. Depending a bit on demand I’ll send you a few stickers, lemme know if you have loooads of friends with whom to share these and I’ll send a bit more.

Those willing to print these by themselves, just grab the file from Hitchwiki.

Update: these are not currently available anymore.