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Tag Archive for 'hospitality_exchange'

CS becoming a for-profit business: A message from Hospitality Club Founder Veit

After the shocking news of Couchsurfing accepting a $7.6 million investment and becoming a for-profit company, I just wrote a message to the hospitality exchange community. Most important: Hospitality Club will never be a for-profit business, we are currently developing an open-source site for HC and some behind-the-scenes info on CS. Please read the statement here:

Oh, and a special shoutout to my haters here :-D

Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web

Besides the couchsurfers who care about the openness of our precious not so little network, the call for open social networks is getting louder and louder. On CS it might be flogging dead horses but our experiences will strengthen other hospitality exchange networks (and our presence will attract the right people to the right networks).

I’m sure that anyone who supports OpenCouchSurfing will support the Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web:

We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:

  • Ownership of their own personal information, including:
    • their own profile data
    • the list of people they are connected to
    • the activity stream of content they create;
  • Control of whether and how such personal information is shared with others; and
  • Freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites.

Sites supporting these rights shall:

  • Allow their users to syndicate their own profile data, their friends list, and the data that’s shared with them via the service, using a persistent URL or API token and open data formats;
  • Allow their users to syndicate their own stream of activity outside the site;
  • Allow their users to link from their profile pages to external identifiers in a public way; and
  • Allow their users to discover who else they know is also on their site, using the same external identifiers made available for lookup within the service.

Authored by Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington, September 4, 2007

Looking from the rapid spread of this bill of rights, I dare to say, that we’re not alone, by far not alone.

CouchSurfing 2.0 is dead

An appropriate system for a hospitality exchange network will not rise from the ashes of CS 2.0: Today the Newsletter Wanderlust was published, announcing the expansion of hired manpower. I guess, it’s not wrong to call it CS 3.0, the short blossom of CS 2.0 and the chance to open the whole network is over.

We have to face the fact: CS is a company and simply can do what it does. We are “only” users of a (so far free) service offered by a company, not members of an open network. There is no such thing like participation in CS and in consequence the field “How I Participate in CS2″ on the profile pages should be ditched. Also the mission should be changed to:

“Donate for Creating a Bigger Corporation, One Job at a Time!”

Things left we can do:

- hosting/surfing/meeting
- don’t forget about all the nice experiences
- demask attempts by CS to call a top-to-down structure a place of
- being aware of the fact that most couchsurfer simply don’t care
- looking for / creating projects with an appropriate form of structure
- don’t get frustrated

Her mit den Abenteuern! (German for something like “Gimme adventures!”)

In retrospective

During all recent events I often thought about what must be going on in Casey’s head. He’s the one pulling the strings. Then I remembered an email I received from Casey Fenton, a long time ago, November 29, 2005 10:01 PM to be exactly.

Subject: Censorship in Hospitality Club / CS

Hi Kasper,

I was just sent a link to your page about HC censorship.
You said: “The thing that I find most revolting is that it, at least to
me at this point, seems such a closed process. Rules are somehow being
set up, and the 90000 members of HC are just to follow them.
CouchSurfing has actually the same problem, and I think it will be good
to address this.” I was wondering what the problem is that CS has that
you’re referring to? We always want to make sure that we’re doing
things right… and it there’s something we’re not doing right, please
let us know! If you need any questions answered, I’d be happy to answer

btw, love your photos… especially the one of those kids in Bamako and
the one of you on the beach with the guitar.


Which implies that Casey read about the ideas I have for hospitality exchange a long time before we actually met in Montreal. As Joe wrote: “Many aspects of CouchSurfing have been marred by these issues: (a) a tendency to do
things in the dark, (b) a tendency to tell people what they want to hear, and (c) a tendency to work *near* people, but not *with* them.”

Sometimes I feel sad, sometimes I feel bitter. But…

Life is still good, though I hope that some things will change. In my opionion there are several principles a free hospitality exchange network must follow:

  1. Open policies
    It should be clear what is going on. Policies and guidelines should be accessible by anyone.
  2. Democratic processes
    All people making part of the network should be able to take part in discussions.
  3. Open data
    People should be able to “take” their own data in a portable, open format onto their computer, into their phone. It should be possible to give permission to others (based on a trust level) to copy part of one’s information. Similar to ideas implemented in Indyvoter (
  4. Free software
    Like Wikipedia, hospitality exchange networks should be based on free software. This will attract more programmers, open up new possibilities (like integrating electronic authentification and encryption ( or efficient access on portable devices (, extending it into a getting-car-rides system where drivers and hitchhikers can get in touch using GPS…).