Friday, March 22, 2013

Springsteen Said It Best

The door is open but the ride ain't free.

I have spent the last 5+ years thinking, talking and writing about what is commonly referred to as the sharing economy. There is so much we still do not know about what it is and what it will be. Even the terminology is a variable. Is it the sharing economy, the access economy, collaborative consumption, peersourcing, p2p, c2c, underused asset utilization? There is no consensus just yet.

I don't even know what I think is the best term for it.

I do know one thing though. It is not the FREECONOMY.

I'm not talking about no free shit. Free is not sustainable. The funny thing about sustainability is, you have to sustain it.- Ron Finley

The one thing I believe is that this reinvented, democratized, decentralized way of accessing things we need to use but do not necessarily need to own is not about FREE. That model is simply not sustainable. Beyond the obvious economic flaws, there are psychological issues about free as well. People ascribe low value to free stuff believing "You get what you pay for".

Many sharing economy founders (myself included at one point) looked at all the extra stuff lying around and determined that that was the problem. The solution was making a free market for this stuff that was otherwise being wasted. I think the solution is more complex than that and by the time this stuff is sitting around, it's already too late.

The solution needs to effect change on how these items are purchased and accessed in the first place, disrupting the traditional notion of ownership from the very beginning.

The answer is not making the unused stuff, "Free".