Over the weekend, I finished reading a wonderful new book: What's Mine is Yours - The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers show us how we're actively migrating away from our excessively ownership-oriented economy. Michel Bauwens and Massimo Menichinelli raised my curiosity about this book which is deeply aligned with the P2P Foundation's trajectory. This morning I've been visualizing how P2P strategies emerge from the widespread, personal realizations of surpluses which can be shared, swapped, rented or redistributed. As I see it, realized surpluses is a highly evolved condition which results from previous phases of economic development.
Exploitative strategy: When something new becomes available for consumption, there are shortages due to many factors. Production and distribution capacity may initially be small. Access to constituent elements may be limited. Talent or expertise for creating it may be in short supply. Any of these factors create the possibility of exploiting the demand for the offer with higher prices, restricted access, or imposing terms.
Extortive strategy: As more supply gets generated, privatized interests in profiteering seek to create an illusion of ongoing or new scarcities. They may create a window of opportunity to be closed after a short time period. They may create planned obsolescence or undermine backwards compatibility with previous versions. This forces the buyers to ante up for the latest or vanishing offer.
Competitive strategy: As an abundance of supply gets produced, there are rival offers to outwit. There are many ways to be superior or different which necessitates the consumers shopping wisely. This induces a consumer culture where massive amounts of time get spent learning what's available, sorting out conflicting claims, identifying desired attributes and acquiring the latest, greatest thing. This overemphasis on purchasing yields a decline in personal satisfaction, economic sustainability and community vitality.
P2P strategy: Anyone who has over-consumed may eventually realize their own surplus of goods, tools, living space or other resources. With the facilitation of their trust among strangers, awareness of availability and access to convenient outlets, widespread sharing takes hold. Underutilized things get transformed into convenient access, less consumption, supplemental income and vitalized communities. Consumerism erodes and collaborative dynamics takes it's place.
This is very good news for all of us inclined to save the planet, revitalize communities, increase consumer justice and/or reinvent capitalism. Ownership breeds surpluses, sharing and reduced consumption.