Why the Web is Won

I’ve been looking for a babysitter here in Winnipeg for a few days. I’ve asked neighbors, friends, colleagues, strangers, and even casual bystanders how thye would go about finding a regular babysitter in these here parts. I got the following answers: post a piece of paper in the community center, ask “XYZ” because they know about these things, see if you can find a nice grandmom in the neighborhood, and take a classified ad out in the community newspaper. Others thought I should use the Yellow Pages, which I actually did, and the babysitting service that I called said they probably wouldn’t have anyone available for those days but that they would get back to me in a few days or weeks. The woman owner said she was about take out an advert in the city newspaper herself to start attracting more babysitters for her business.
I went online. Used Google. And then found Babysitter.ca.
I’m not sure it’s going to work but the model is pretty excellent. Essentially, a parent signs up for the service, pays a fee for a few months and then can search the qualifications of various sitters who have also signed up on the site. Sitters do not have to pay a fee to join the site which is wholesome and fair. What I think is brilliant about the system is its ease of use as it allows you to post an ad within the secure confines of the site and you can read reviews of the babysitters posted by other parents. But it’s not one way. Parents, too, can get reviewed by babysitters so that they, too, will know if they or their children are holy terrors.
This is not to say that the backyardigan nature of gossip and personal connections is over and done. But it does make me think that the Web has become, even in smaller cities (Winnipeg is 700,000 strong), a crucial component of social infrastructure that is more or less unexploited. No one in my initial conversations with residents here noted this website. One person mentioned Craigslist but the user base here is not large, yet. I know I don’t need to be a booster for the Web’s business-to-business foundation; but, this is a small-scale case for the power and efficicacy of the Web’s ability to solve real problems in real time via human endeavor.