Thanks to Vinay Gupta I have come across The Embassy in San Francisco, a co-living space that, judging from its website, feels like some of the cool co-working spaces like The Hub – or is it the other way around? Unfortunately, there is no house map, which would be really helpful in trying to imagine your life in an honest-to-God, Californian style co-living space – how many people to a bathroom, for example? But it is clear that these guys, like many others (myself included), are trying to reinvent inhabiting.
Two things seemed particularly interesting in The Embassy: the franchise model and the groupware.
The franchise model means this: The Embassy wants to be a network of spaces, just like our very own unMonastery. “One rent, many homes”: you can be nomadic while still staying inside of your tribe – in fact nomadism is a necessity, because your tribe now inhabits a cultural space instead of a physical one, and is smeared all across the globe. This is exactly Neal Stephenson’s idea of phyle. Some edgeryders have started mesoscale social arrangements that they call phyles (for example Indianos and Aesir in Spain). This kind of arrangement seems to be an attractor for a highly connected society: Edgeryders itself has some of the characteristics of a phyle.
The groupware is simply a web platform called Modernomad that functions as the hub and janitor of the whole arrangement. For now it does mainly reservations, guest management etc., but the idea is to be a sort of close community management tool. Another attractor: most co-living experiences with over 4-5 people have some kind of groupware, even just a mailing list.
I am personally uncomfortable with the way The Embassy portrays itself as an infrastructure for startup capitalism.
From the ground up, the coliving movement is designed to offer stability, inspiration and opportunity to independent, ambitious young professionals — the backbone of tech startups, who are often expected to live on peanuts and take huge risks with little chance of reward – (source)
These are places that have mission statements. Do I want my home to have a mission statement? Maybe not. But then again, the unMonastery certainly has a mission statement, and I am willing to consider it at this point (and I have briefly tried it). Maybe most people born in the late 90s and 2000s will live in places like The Embassy in ten years. I am thinking I might live like that myself – in fact I live in a small co-living arrangement already. Is this where we are going? What do you think?