Sharing

And here is a tedious piece in the Independent, arguing that economic rationalism is ubiquitous and will ensure the “sharing economy” fails. The author uses an example of a Tokyo based umbrella rental scheme, which failed because people didn’t bring them back. she could have referred to Oxford’s first municipal cycle rental scheme. There are many examples of collaboration schemes which are based on trust that work. The whole of the economics of micro-credit schemes and to some extent the open source software movement prove this. In these cases, trust is made personal, and peer to peer software can help this trust.

Her thesis is wrong on two counts. The sharing economy isn’t. It uses IT to partition lumpy resources, for examples rooms in a house, or seats in a journey and to then monetise them. The second feature of the current sharing economy, is that the platform owner appropriates the surplus value. The umbrella rental scheme should have studied New York’s answer where people sell them for $5 and understood its demand; no-one needs an umbrella when it’s not raining and an umbrella can’t be shared.

The second piece. aligned with or derived from the observation that the platform appropriates surplus value is that many of the so-called sharing economy enterprises are very greedy. Why would anyone put themselves out to help them, including their suppliers?

 

Sharing

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