How many hours does this cost?

Traditionally, a bank is a financial institution that deals with lending and depositing money and exchanging currency. But that is overrated. A relatively newer concept is that of a time bank, where people exchange time. Some might say time is priceless, but it seems a new type of economy is appearing where time has been assigned a value.

800px-LaborNoteAlthough the digital world made time banks popular, the concept is actually quite old. Its history can be traced back to the 1820s, when an American anarchist created the Cincinnati Time Store. There, time spent during a specific activity could be translated into material goods, usually corn, meat or gold [1]. Nowadays, time banking works a bit differently: time is exchanged directly between people doing different types of activities. Thus, digital platforms where people auction (sell and buy) time have developed all over the world, Romania included. Continue reading How many hours does this cost?

Elementary, my dear Watson.

Have you ever dreamed about being a successful crime solver? Have you ever envied this old M. Holmes- or dreamed about cracking mysteries like in Criminal Minds?

Well fiction is not so far from reality as police investigators sometimes feel like they are getting nowhere and could make use of some help. As has been shown lately, the input of thousands of individuals could be as good as the one of experts, the so-called Wisdom of the Crowd. But how is this relevant to police investigations? Well, like the FBI did in 2011, investigators can sometimes seek help by crowdsourcing some of their unsolved cases.

On 30th June 1999, the 41-year-old Ricky McCormick was found dead in St Louis, Missouri. While the nature of the death was undoubtedly from criminal activity, two strange coded notes found in his pockets quickly caught the attention of the policemen. Twelve years later, despite the relentless work of the CRRU- the Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit of the FBI- those notes remain a mystery, forcing the FBI to crowdsource the problem on the internet. The collection of solutions presented by the population will be reviewed by the FBI, following a hierarchical system. No reward despite the self-satisfaction and the glory of helping the FBI is offered.


Two years later, the FBI again resorted to crowdsourcing to identify the authors of the horrifying bombing in the Marathon of Boston. An unprecedented number of calls, pictures and help from the population ensued from this open call, leading to a quick arrest of the two terrorists.  Following the same lines, numerous cities have developed apps allowing their citizen to report crimes from street disturbance to murders. Continue reading Elementary, my dear Watson.

Warning: Fraudfunding

Over the past few years, crowdfunding platforms have become more popular. Just within 5 years, the number of the platforms had risen from 21 websites in 2007 to 143 websites in 2011 (a). Crowdfunding platforms offer the opportunities for people to pursue their dreams or to raise money for good a cause.  On the other end of the spectrum, these platforms also provide opportunities for investment. However, as the popularity goes up, controlling this growing community is challenging since there are no concrete law or regulations, as can be seen in fraud cases occurring across crowdfunding platforms.

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Take for example the Kobe-red project on Kickstarter, which was intended to raise money for beef-based jerky made with 100% organic and beer-fed Japanese cow. This project was supported by 3,252 funders generating over $120,000! Being as successful, it was approached by two filmmakers who would like to include this project in a documentary called Kickstarted. Looking back on hindsight, it was then discovered that many features provided by the project creators on the page were suspicious, raising concerns about the legitimacy of the project. Continue reading Warning: Fraudfunding