We all know the internet has brought millions of people together, worldwide, in a variety of ways—we can share images, sign petitions, search for jobs, post 140-character thoughts, ogle others’ vacation photos, find romance for a night or forever and encourage empathy for any social cause. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 21.2% of the total workforce in the United States was self-employed, working from home, in 2012. Yet with all this online connecting, we have also become a fractured, disconnected society, one in which people feel connected via screens and keyboards but often are not actually creating any solid, lasting bonds. Their contributions—whether they are photos, videos, memes, GIFs or nasty, pointless thoughts in a Comments section—are fleeting, and their online interactions can be trite. A San Francisco start-up called Assembly aims to change that. Assembly, according to an article in the June issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, “is a clearinghouse for designers, developers, marketers, project managers and other creative professionals in search of project partners. When a team creates a product using Assembly, the site handles revenue distribution and enables transparency in terms of expenses, progress of development and income.” Essentially, Assembly is both the producer—of products and projects—and the bookkeeper. It brings people together, oversees the development of the project, and then pays the participants a share of the profits (how much depends on how early or late you jump in, how long you stay attached to your task and how often you interact with your collaborators).
The result is meaningful interaction—professionals pitching in, sharing ideas and contributing their expertise, from the earliest brainstorming stage to the later bug-fixing or branding stages. Things are being made—mostly apps, but not just dating or photo-sharing sites. There’s Aecore, a project management for construction app in early development; there’s Autora, a collective creative writing app that brings strangers together to write poems or stories, which can then be shared once you collectively decide they are finished; there’s Hoop Maps, a pick-up basketball app that allows people to find local pick-up games; and there’s Gig Radio, an app for people who want to listen to music by local bands so they can then go out and hear those bands in person. All of these are worthwhile start-ups that may not have gotten past the development stage (or even into the development stage) if not for Assembly bringing together the creative minds, and supervising the finances of the new products. Shared ownership is an important aspect of Assembly’s value system, as is success, which Assembly believes can be equitable.
In a world of budding entrepreneurs and the increasing utilization of Open Source materials, Assembly seems like an important part of the equation for anyone who wants to leave an indelible fingerprint on our society.