Tuesday, September 2, 2014

About this year's course theme/in preparation for Thursday's lecture

Rachel Botsman is of the early persons who identified the trend and who coined the term "collaborative consumption". Her "breakthrough" was the book she wrote together with Roo Rogers in 2010, "What is mine is yours: The rise of collaborative consumption" and the Ted talk she gave the same year, "The case for collaborative consumption".

You should prepare for the lecture by listening to her Ted talk as well as to Lisa Gansky's Ted talk. I wasn't aware of it but I note that Botsman has since given another Ted talk. I haven't seen it yet but it's probably a good idea to have a look also at that talk (given two years after the first talk).

Please prepare for the Thursday lecture and for this year's theme in the course "Future of Media" by watching the following movies/Ted talks. Feel free to take down notes or questions and bring them to the lecture on Thursday:

Rachel Botsman, "The case for collaborative consumption" (2010, 16 minutes)
Lisa Gansky, "The future of business is "the mesh"" (2011, 14 minutes)
Rachel Botsman, "The currency of the new economy is trust" (2012, 19 minutes)

For your interest and as a bonus, this is what I wrote on my academic blog after I read Botsman and Roo's book:

Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers' book "What's mine is yours: How collaborative consumption is changing the way we live" (2010) is the book about "collaborative consumption". How can we switch from materialism (everyone owning their own lawn mower) to sharing lawn movers, cars (ZipcarUber) and that extra room you hardly use in your apartment/house (AirbnbCouchsurfing)? It's not only great for your wallet, for strengthening human relationships and community, but also for the planet (decrease resource throughput). Much of this is made possible through networked computers and the internet:

"There is now an unbounded marketplace for efficient peer-to-peer exchanges between producer and consumer, seller and buyer, lender and borrower, and neighbour and neighbour.
cooperatives, collectives, and communes - are being refreshed and reinvented in appealing and valuable forms of collaboration and community. We call this [...] Collaborative Consumption [...] sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting and swapping, redefined through technology and peer communities."

As with any "movement", there are a lot of different services (many mentioned/enumerated in the book), many different kinds of people/actors and many different kinds of motivations (including entrepreneurship, sustainability, alternative personal values, pure economic need, and being fed up with "stuff" - including buy-now-pay-later and the subsequent fees for the self-storage facility. That makes the collaborative consumption phenomenon all the more interesting to study and contemplate.

I wrote a blog post half a year ago about my problems with Airbnb, but was happy with the way the issue was resolved and have used Airbnb no less than five times since then (!) to book houses for between one day (weekend in the mountains with my family) and a week (conference in Toronto).

This is a good book, but perhaps with a tad too much "cheerleading" and "evangelism" in it. Collaborative consumption is a great idea, but I'm sure there will be set-backs, backlashes and unexpected rebound effects. If booking a house (apartment, room) though Airbnb is supremely easy and convenient, would that not eventually lead to increased travel? That might then hollow out, or even negate the environmentally beneficial effects of not building more hotels, right? I can however see few negative effects of sharing cars - instead of every family or every person over the age of 18 owning their own car.

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