The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

In a talk for the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) in London, Social innovator Rachel Botsman charts the growth of a movement that is transforming the way we consume and contribute.

She starts by talking about the Global Village and the Digital Sharing Revolution and Collaborative Consumption that takes many forms – traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting and swapping, which are all being redefined through technology and peer communities.

Rather than creating a world in which people only interact remotely, and lose touch with the "real world", we are starting to “use the internet to get off the internet to form a stronger, bigger society", which is opening up all kinds of creative ways of interacting such as land sharing, bike sharing, car sharing:
"Car companies have to realise they are no longer in the business of just selling cars, they are in mobility services and BMW, Peugeot and Daimler and have launched car-sharing service in the last 18 months."

"A new generation is growing up not wanting to own "stuff" it wants the needs or experiences it fulfils. Usage is proving "better than possession, access is better than ownership"
She quotes Mark Levine, of the New York Times:
“Sharing is to ownership what the iPod is to the eight-track, what the solar panel is to the coal mine. Sharing is clean, crisp, urbane, postmodern; owning is dull, selfish, timid, backward."

She talks about different types of new interaction:
Redistribution markets, such as EBay, "like for like trading" (swapping) that is now powered by technology, and the enabling of free-giving on sites such as Freecycle, saying this is creating a new kind of wealth which is giving people a bit more control over their life and creating a renewed belief in the importance of community.

These changes have been powered by:
A torrent of social technologies,
Pressing unresolved environmental concerns
A global recession that has shocked consumer behaviours and forced us to re-evaluate all our value systems.
"If the last generation – the Baby Boomers was all about keeping up with the Joneses, our generation is going to be all about getting to know the Joneses."
"Twentieth Century consumer behaviours were very much driven by our credit history.
Now we leave a replication trail as we interact across the web, of how well we can or can’t be trusted."
"The 20th Century was defined by Credit, Advertising, Individual Ownership and Hyper consumption, the 21st Century will be defined by Reputation, Community, Shared Access and Collaborative Consumption."
"If you look back in history, every financial crisis marked the beginning of a paradigm shift, and a way of game-changing innovation."
"I believe we’re going to look back and we’re going to see this period as a momentous turning point, when we use the incredible technology we have to re-shape the kind of society we want. "
"I think it’s going to be called a revolution, when society facing very great challenges woke up from a humongous hangover of emptiness and waste and made a seismic leap to being defined not by what we consume,  but by what we contribute, and along the way empowers millions of people, including us to play a larger role in building a stronger, healthier system…"

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