How the Sharing Revolution is Mimicking Primitive Collaborative Consumption

The world is changing…or is it? Technology has turned us into collaborative consumers, but is that so different from a system we once used? This new sharing revolution mimics older societies where bartering, trading, swapping, and sharing were our primary business interactions.

Rachel Botsman is the author of The Case for Collaborative Consumption, who says that this new peer-to-peer revolution is fueled by our primitive instincts, and because of this, it is enabling more trust between strangers and renewing the belief in the importance of community.

She says this sharing revolution is happening through three systems: redistribution markets, which move used goods to the people who need them; collaborative lifestyles, which share money, skills, and time; and product service systems, which allow people to pay for the benefit of using something without needing to own it outright. For this, Botsman gives the example of a drill. She says all we really need is the hole, so why are we paying for an entire drill which we may never use again.

And just how does this affect communication? Because this consumption take place within networks and communities, this ‘evolution’ is causing increased interactions. These networks create cross cultural interaction and collaboration through a mixture of diverse groups, much like the interactions of marketplaces from the past. Also, users now must decide to pursue a trade after viewing another user’s profile to see if they have been loyal in their previous exchanges. This means trust and reputations have now become the main focus of a person’s identity in these communities.

These changes also communicate our new values as a society. While Generation Y has often been characterized as self-important, these changes show how they are changing from a culture of me to a culture of we, due to mobile collaboration.

So is this sharing revolution really so revolutionary, or is just a throwback to the days of old? Either way, it seems to working.

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