What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, is a breakthrough charting of the “rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, renting, gifting, and swapping redefined through technology and peer communities” that is shifting America’s, and the world’s, definition of “success.”
According to their website, the 21st century marks a change from “hyper consumption” to “collaborative consumption,” and this transition is marked by three behavioral patterns of social consumers: trust between strangers, valueing “access to” instead of “ownership of,” and seeking experience, or function, over accumulation, or presence.
In the same vein as Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, Collaborative Consumption approaches social change with an upbeat energy and exacting analysis – citing hundreds of detailed real-life examples and infographics: “from enormous marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist, to emerging such as social lending (Zopa) and car sharing (Zipcar)…and Swap.com, Zilok, Bartercard, AirBnb, and ThredUP…enabling ‘peer-to-peer’ to become the default way people exchange…” As opposed to Gladwell’s academic distance, Botsman and Roo consider themselves a part of this behavioral “movement.”
As a blogger and audiophile, I am immersed in social exchange. But a part of me still clings to the traditional totems of success – ownership, individualism, and “hoarding.” Wondering whether this unease was a similar by-product to “brick and mortar -> the cloud” transition, I spoke to some of my peers in this “social” generation.
“I think that anything that increases trade among people makes them happier, richer, and better off” says Jason Albert, a graduate student in economics at Georgetown, “but these marketplaces are about exchanging property rights – ownership is involved, at least in some degree.” Albert continued, “when I rent a zipcar for the day, it’s mine…I don’t have to pay for insurance and all the other costs of owning a car.”
“I don’t trust things that have that many buzzwords,” says Oren Haymovits, a third year law student at Albany Law School. “Craigslist is the Internet version of wanted ads, Zipcar is a new take on the car rental service, thredUP is toys for tots…that isn’t innovation, it’s transfer.” When asked about the definition of success, he said that “it is completely subjective. But [on a national scale] success is success is success – people will always want more.”
What strikes me about this movement is how businesses will adjust to a “bartering revival.” Content is more than king – it is fuel – and the physical properties of an object are less valued than it’s essence. For example, individuals are trading books for computer repair, bicycles for dental appointments. It is no longer what you want in the long run, but what you need for the moment – sacrificing ownership for economic flexibility and lack of responsibility.
Has the “collaborative consumption” movement affected you? How so?