Friday, May 13, 2011

"The Sharing Economy" at SxSWi 2011

Main event page (with audio):

I was interested in this session because sharing is the core of the library ethos and I wanted to see what a "sharing economy" looked like. How does it echo traditional library services? And how is it different?

Basically the idea is that a number of forces have made sharing increasingly attractive to people: the economy, concern about sustainability and efficient use of resources, resistance to what some see as an over-commercialized world, new tech tools like GPS-enabled smart phones, and the fact that "wired" young people have become very comfortable with sharing because of experiences online.

The projects that were discussed were not centralized organizations like libraries where a small group of people manage the collection. Instead, these were de-centralized, peer-to-peer communities leveraging group-buying power then exchanging the resources. Some of the first items to be shared tend to be things that are expensive to purchase and maintain, like cars.

Other companies were leveraging the new capabilities of smartphones to enable people to search their own neighborhood for people willing to share things like tools or books, etc.

I could think of other places where this is happening: community gardens, and Lendle, and closer to home, Gangplank Tucson, the community letter press that David Aguirre recently installed at the Dinnerware Artspace (sharing, but with fees), and the community darkroom in the works downtown, a project of the Tucson Community Darkroom (sharing, but with fees).

Websites mentioned in the presentation

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