Articles

A Site to Trade Lives and Trade Dreams

by An Xiao on March 19, 2012

A post from Ma Yongfeng seeks a handmade rolling home.

A post from Ma Yongfeng seeks a handmade rolling home. (screenshot by the author)

LOS ANGELES — We’re all familiar with sharing sites like Airbnb that help you rent out your room to peers and even strangers. And there are a rising number of sites that let you share home appliances like a Roomba with your neighbors. The sites usually focus on one-way sharing interactions, and usually for the point of utility.

Forget Art, the Beijing-based collective run by Ma Yongfeng, wants to get people talking to each other. Youth Apartment Exchange Project (青年公寓交换) is an initiative to encourage urban dwellers in China not just to share their items, but to exchange them. This could range from a simple exchange, like cell phones, to even trading and sharing apartments.

Previously a BBS, the site now uses a private Sina Weibo feed, tapping into the Twitter-like service’s broad network (some 300 million users) to encourage interaction. Though the feed is relatively new, users are already posting images, using a hashtag to organize. Ma Yongfeng recently posted a handmade truck from the 1970s, and in the BBS version, users traded phones and even homes.

And some, in their search for an exchange, offer a poetic glimpse into hopes and dreams. One young woman posted her search for an RV:

When I was little I especially wanted to have an RV. I would go wherever I wanted to go and carry around my own little home. Wherever I wanted to stay, I could stay for a day. That would be very nice.

Youth Apartment Exchange is a simple social media platform to get people talking. As Ma Yongfeng told me, he wants the site to encourage online users to trade and exchange and meet people outside their immediate circle.

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