Book Review : What’s Mine is Yours : The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

whats_mine_is_yours_uk_coverby Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers

This book is a fusion of the ideas of Affluenza and Wikinomics.

The authors  outline quite nicely some of the thinking behind the massive consumer binge that we (the Western World) have been on for the last 30 years as previously discussed in my book reviews of Affluenza and Plentitude. (Also the subject of Endgame from a financial perspective).
They then track the rise of collaborative consumption and outline a number of scenarios and  visions for the future.

The authors set out the case for an emerging new style of thinking.

It is all about access not ownership.

The idea is that by using collaborative networks, trusted individuals  can make their surplus resources available to other trusted individuals for a fee or even in a swap arrangement (not to mention just giving them away).
It is almost a return to the old fashion social values of sharing and helping each other, but powered by new collaborative technologies and business models.

Corporations are using these ideas to create businesses providing multi-sided trading platforms for these peer to peer exchanges to occur – or by providing corporate resources for temporary use.

The authors outline the potential power of widespread adoption of these methodologies and ways of thinking.  I found this book to be truly inspirational with many great case studies.

To me – this is the ultimate pathway to sustainability – only use what you need, when you need it. Just-in-time access (not ownership).

This book has got me thinking about all of the spare resources just lying around that could be put to productive use. How could that generate more wealth for society / prevent the manufacture & consumption of unnecessary stuff ?
Did you know that the average drill bought in the US has a lifetime use of only  14 minutes ? – that is what I call spare capacity !

Watch this video for a quick overview.


Models that make spare resources more productive

Accommodation in private houses
Why not rent out that spare room on a nightly basis. – rent nightly from real people in 10,179 cities in 178 countries ! – free accommodation

Modern backyard sharefarming
People with vacant land link up with would be gardeners. They split the veggie surplus !

Spare Household Goods
Rent out that stuff that you hardly use.

Spare driveways
Rent out your driveway for parking !
Facebook Sharing Application

Give it away
Models where a corporate owned good is made available for short or long term access

Bike Share
See my previous post on Bike Share Programs.

Care Share – Hourly rates including fuel and insurance – maybe $7.50 !
Have a look at Is Zipcar for me for a quick overview.

Peer-to-Peer exchanges that directly compete with traditional and major corporate models

Private Car rentals – pretty good stuff for $45 per day or less all up.

Peer to Peer lending
Take out the middleman (bank) but use all of their sophisticated credit and recovery mechanisms with a portfolio approach to allocating the money ! Better deals for lenders and borrowers. Click here to Watch Video from a Zopa borrower which explains how the process works.
Key Empowering Idea – online reputation
A key factor that allows this to work is the building / maintaining of an online reputation. You want some confidence / trust in a person before you will let them into your house (airbnb), rent your car (drivemycar) or borrow money from you (zopa).

If you had told me 10 years ago that people would buy a used car online – sight, unseen then I wouldn’t have believed you – but that is what now happens. Ebay Motors sells a massive volume of used cars sight unseen – the key is the seller’s reputation. I would be more likely to trust a used car seller with a great reputation than the used car lot around the corner.

Craig Newmark – the founder of Craig’s list says

“By the end of this decade, power and influence will shift largely to those people with the best reputations and trust networks, from people with money and nominal power. ”

I find this to be a profound and important statement.
This has enormous ramifications for lifestyles and commerce.

The potential for the Emerging World to leapfrog personal ownership and go straight to Collaborative Consumption
This has got me thinking.
Many of the Emerging Countries leap-frogged landlines and went straight to cell-phones. It was easier and cheaper to roll out, scale up.

If you already own a car, then the idea of selling it and going to a shared car may seem a backward step.
However if you have never owned a car and can’t afford to own a car then accessing a car on an hourly basis is clearly a step up. It also quite scalable because the network effect kicks in. Hourly car rental works best when there is a car for rent on every street – it is a self-reinforcing proposition.

Big Companies are more vulnerable than they think

This issue of trust is a biggy.
Follow my logic.
Banks are less trusted than they used to be.
Peer to Peer lending offers a better deal to both lenders and borrowers. Their platform is rapidly scalable at almost zero marginal cost.
Certainly for anyone under the age of 30 this is a logical step but maybe more than just a little wierd for anyone over say the age of 50.
Within 10 years there will be a “tipping point”.
If I was a big bank or any other business that could be slaughtered by a peer-to-peer model I would be very scared.

Read this book !

I found this book to be a great synthesis of this idea and it really got me thinking about the opportunities to use spare capacity for productive purposes.
A good outline of some game changing ideas – Highly recommended !

What do you think ?

Have you used any of these services – I’d love to get your comments in the section below !

Let’s start a conversation !

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