I need your help...I'm trying to make sense of the sharing economy and the open government movement. Can you please help me out? I welcome your comments on this thinking - which is completely raw and woefully incomplete...thanks.
The sharing economy is the world of car sharing and co-working spaces, food bartering, open
government, and mutual aid. Many elements of the sharing economy, such as co-ops and
neighborhood exchanges are old ideas being brought back to life at a digital speed. I want to
introduce the sharing economy now to prepare readers for the next game changing shift in where and
how we produce social goods.
The sharing economy calls into question one of the core economic drivers of the past decades
consumer spending. Many of the sharing websites overtly ask “why own what you can share?” This question is meaningful to consumer goods companies, many of which are jumping into the sharing system to learn how to work in this new way. For example, Ford and Toyota actively partner with ZipCar and other car sharing programs to learn about the kind of consumer who prefers to use a car by the hour.
Shifts in consumer behavior will surely matter for philanthropy. At the smallest level, greater
communications between neighbors may well influence how community organizing happens or
how people are able to respond in a disaster. If efforts to share community goods are successful
we might see the grassroots development of tool libraries, produce swaps, and mutual aid
societies. If this achieves any scale it could affect both the needs for nonprofit services in
those communities as well as shift what the neighbors want from their elected officials.
Local governments are already active in the sharing communities. By virtue of the open
government movement, in which public data sets are being shared openly and broadly, many
cities and towns are already shifting how they work with networks of community volunteers.
Technology friendly cities are inviting in volunteers to build mobile applications from their data.
These include schedules that tell you when the next bus is coming, maps that show you where to
recycle hazardous materials, as well as tools to help bikers report potholes and park users track
We are seeing a coming together of a “sharing ethos” that helps neighbors or like-minded
individuals swap consumer goods with a tech-driven open government movement that attracts
volunteers who spend their time making cities more responsive. These trends represent new
behaviors for business and government. Both the sharing economy and open government rely on
volunteers to share what they know (or have).
- If nonprofits have typically filled in between government and markets, what do these two shifts mean for them?
- Are they likely to be the basis of many of the sharing platforms?
- Will they help organize the volunteers of the open government movement?
- Will the "space" between government and markets get smaller or bigger?
- Does either the sharing economy or open government do anything for the poorest among us?
- Oh, do I have a lot of questions. .... help!