What is a ‘Sharing Economy’?

Once upon a time,

The story opens in a nursery at 6 a.m. A child is woken with cuddles by his mother. A new day has begun.

Little one dressed and fed, as is she, they both step out to the street. Just in time for the rideshare she requested. While carpooling, they make friends. She drops her son off at daycare where he will spend the day sharing crayons, exchanging toys and taking turns on the seesaw. She heads to a coworking space.

There, the freelance writer will offer and exchange services online. Over lunch and online too, she will book a studio in Paris for the weekend; her partner’s birthday is just around the corner and a celebration à deux is due. The little one will be fine with the nanny she and her neighbours jointly hired.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, the American dream looked different; wealth in consumerist language meant owning a house, a car or two, more TVs, that designer handbag, those shoes, an expansive collection of books, records, and movies, and in the basement, box upon box of single-use and singly used items getting dusty.

That model still exists, but two things in its environment have changed:

  • People: Millenials do not like to amass clutter or waste.
  • Data: Access to information and resources is nearly universal, and effective.

Today people share rides and lend apartments and homes, resell clothes, exchange talent, work on separate projects in joint spaces, barter, borrow, give, collaborate.

A sharing economy is one in which underutilised assets are shared, monetised or not, in ways that improve efficiency, sustainability and community. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/12/when-is-sharing-not-really-sharing/

Revolutionary but not new; communities have done it for millennia. The difference now: the internet. Connections have become easier.

It started in 1989 when a man called Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web to share information over the internet. In 1995: ebay. Peer-to-peer buying and selling. 1999: Napster: file-sharing. 2000: Zipcar: car-sharing, and then…

MySpace to Facebook, the iPhone, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, HomeAway, Poshmark, Freelance.com, Nanny Lane, and others.

Two remarkable premises of the sharing economy:

  • Communities are built on trust and exchanges, based on human relationships.
  • The companies making these interactions possible are facilitators, not service providers; their role is to make the transactions easy and safe between users and providers.

New horizons:

Shared childcare, shared groceries, supper clubs sharing gourmet meals…

New challenges perhaps:

  • Is it safe enough?
  • How can it be regulated?
  • Will the sharing economy be exploited?

Or will it completely transform all aspects of the current economic order?

This could also interest you. Yara’s article about “What is Universal Basic Income?”

25 minutes Podcast Pod of Gold Ep 03: Basic Income Finland with Marjukka Turunen