What’s Mine is Yours

whats_mine_is_yours_cover-480x699“What’s Mine is Yours / The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” is a groundbreaking book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. People around the world now do much more sharing, bartering, lending, trading, gifting and swapping than they used in the past

One sharing system is in place at laundromats. Instead of owning a washing machine, people use a common washing machine. Today we have much and more complex sharing systems. People sell stuff on craigslist and eBay, swap books, DVDs and games on such shopping portals as Swaptree and Ourswaps, and give unwanted items away on Freecycle and ReUseIt. People in Paris, Brussels and Vienna ride bicycles provided by the local government. People upload content to Slideshare, Flickr, Facebook and Youtube. They share what they produce or what they find important or funny. Limewire (music sharing) is another example of collaborative exchange and consumption.

In this book the authors have organized the thousands of examples of collaborative consumption into three systems: product service systems, redistribution markets and collaborative lifestyles. The new ways of collaborative exchange and consumption are shaking up the outdated modes of business and changing not only what we consume but how we consume. Collaborative consumption also certain goods, for example books, to be used more than once. By swapping, a book can be read by an unlimited number of people, a car can be used by several people, a song can be listened to unlimited times.

The most familiar system is the product service systems. The typical examples are a laundromat or a rental car. Without owning the product, we get the benefit of it. In individual private ownership, we own only one model, but in a product service system, we have many options of cars, houses or washing machines.

The second system is redistribution markets. Social networks enable used goods to be redistributed from where they are not needed to somewhere or someone where they are.

The second type of collaborative consumption is redistribution markets. In some instances, the marketplace is based on entirely free exchanges (freecycles, kashless, around again).

Collaborative lifestyle is the third system. It is not only physical goods such as cars, bikes and used goods that can be shared, swapped and bartered. People with similar interests are banding together to share and exchange less tangible assets such as time and skills, what the authors call collaborative lifestyles. These exchanges are happening on a local level and include shared systems for working spaces (Citizen Space, Hub Culture), goods, (Neighborrow), tasks, time and errands (DaveZillion, Ithaca HOURs), gardens (Urban Gardenshare, Landshare) and skills (Brooklyn Skillshare).

There are four principles of collaborative consumption. The first principle is that there should be critical mass. There must be enough choice that the consumer feels satisfied with what is available. For a bike-sharing system, there should be a minimum of 3,000 bikes to make the system work. The second principle is social proof. People should see the 3,000 bikes and realize that there is a bike-sharing system. The third principle is the belief in commons. People should believe that using and protecting common goods is good. The Internet is the most common resource we use. Nobody owns the Internet, but everybody shares it. The fourth principle is trust between strangers. The collaborative systems are only possible when people trust strangers. In order to sublet your house, you have to trust the people who want to rent your house.

“What’s Mine is Yours” is an interesting book that may help social entrepreneurs, NGOs and local governments.

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