In my town there’s one guy who does shoe and leather repair: Ed Hutchins. He resoles my Birkenstocks, fixes kids’ hockey skate boots, refurbishes leather jackets. If you search the web, you’ll find two reviews of Ed’s work:
1. They do a great job repairing shoes here and just recently he did a fantastic job repairing my son’s hockey skate boot. His rates are very reasonable the only downfall is he takes his time so don’t be in a hurry to get your item back soon.
2. Ed Hutchins is a very nice man who does very good work. The only complaint I can think of is that he is not the fastest at getting work done. He does a fabulous job though and his repairs last!
Those comments appear on a number of sites: Kuzdu, InsiderPages, LocalTom. Beyond address and phone number, that’s all the web knows about Ed’s business. The comments are accurate. I’ve been waiting months for my Birkenstocks. It’s clear to me that there’s unmet demand here for shoe and leather repair. But you’re somebody who could help Ed meet that demand, how could you know about the opportunity?
In principle, the demand can be made visible. I think it was Esther Dyson who coined the phrase visible demand. In 2006 she published an issue of Release 1.0 entitled Visible Demand: The New Air-Taxi Market. The idea, which I discussed at length with DayJet’s Ed Iacobucci, is that when we use the web to aggregate demand — in this case, for direct flights among regional airports — we can optimize the delivery of services.
The same idea shows up in Eventful Demand:
1. Demand that your favorite performers come to your town.
2. Spread the word to get your friends and family to join the Demand.
3. Eventful will alert you when your events are scheduled.
DayJet was up and running until the 2008 credit crunch killed it. Eventful Demand is alive although not really kicking. (It’s unlikely that you’ve ever Demanded a performer. And I suspect it’s also unlikely that you’ve ever attended a performance at a venue chosen to satisfy a Demand.) But the idea of visible demand seems so powerful, and so right, that I hope it will play out on a broader stage.
How? That’s a $64 billion question which I hope people smarter than me are trying to answer. Meanwhile, I’ll just put this fact out onto the web. If you’re a great shoe and leather repairer, and you’d like to ply your trade in a picturesque New England town, the folks in Keene will welcome you with open arms.