There have been a few articles over the last couple of months referring to ‘jerk tech’, apps or technology that exploit public infrastructure to make money for themselves. This was highlighted by a couple of different parking apps, which were based on ‘selling’ free parking spaces as the driver was about to leave one.
Monkey Parking was one such app, which was later served with a cease and desist order from San Francisco’s City Attorney. It works by notifying the app that you’ve parked somewhere, and you will then be altered when other drivers nearby are looking for a space. Drivers can then bid in an auction for the space, and only paying when they have successfully parked in the space vacated by the driver who auctioned the space. Essentially they are taking a free resouce (parking) and allowing money to be made from it, which many don’t agree with (hence ‘jerk tech’).
Another app called Sweetch did something similar, whereby a driver pays $5 to take over someone else’s space, but then gets $4 if they in turn give their space to another Sweetch user. Since they were hit with the C&D it appears that they decided to Open Source the project, now called Freetch so that others could make their own apps using the technology.
Would you happily use an app like this and pay a little to save yourself time spent searching for parking, or do you agree with the jerk tech label?