November 23

21st Century Living

Friday’s Big Idea

Today's Big Idea: Collaborative Consumption

Writing three decades before the commercialization of the Internet, Marshall McLuhan promoted the concept of the global village, that is, technology enabling trust between strangers. Today, the Internet has created a new barter economy that experts such as Rachel Botsman argue is becoming a powerful cultural and economic force, "reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume."

By harnessing the power of the mobile Internet, new companies are encouraging their customers to share products, from business ties to cars to children's toys, rather than buy them. For instance, for a monthly fee of $11, Tie Society makes you a part of a tie-sharing community, offering 300 styles without having to drop a paycheck on a new wardrobe. Spark Box is a similar service but for children's toys. Any parent knows how severely the value of a toy decreases over time. So when children get bored, parents can simply rent a new one. 

Called collaborative consumption, the new sharing economy modifies the idea of ownership over private property, one of the pillars of the American ideology. The change is part of a gradual cultural shift that takes stock of the economic recession and the rise of social media. In the midst of a lingering economic slump, many are rethinking the imperative to buy a new gizmo when the impulse strikes. Our online lives have also changed what is acceptable to share. After posting your Facebook photos for all to see, sharing a tie might not seem so strange. 

 

  1. 1 Disrupting Black Friday: What She...
  2. 2 Musings on the Future of Capitali...
  3. 3 Collaborative Fund: Visionary New...
  4. 4 Americans Are Still Addicted to C...
   
  1. Disrupting Black Friday: What She Wants, Whenever She Wants It

    Disrupting Black Friday: What She Wants, Whenever She Wants It

    The new consumer doesn't wait in line to get a deal at Target. She buys what she wants, wherever she wants it, whenever she wants it.

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  2. Musings on the Future of Capitalism: What's Mine Is Yours

    Musings on the Future of Capitalism: What's Mine Is Yours

    A number of visionary companies that are changing the way we think about consumption: Zipcar, FreeCycle, Netflix, Etsy, CouchSurfing and Zopa.

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  3. Collaborative Fund: Visionary New Investing Model for Pro-Social Startups

    Collaborative Fund: Visionary New Investing Model for Pro-Social Startups

    Collaborative Fund is a new kind of investment fund that bridges the disconnect between doing good and doing well in business, providing the financial foundation for creativity and innovation that will shape our shared future.

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  4. Americans Are Still Addicted to Consumption

    Americans Are Still Addicted to Consumption

    The former President gave his controversial “malaise speech” in 1979, admonishing the American public for consuming beyond its means. Things are even worse now, he says.

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