Understanding the Collaborative Economy

One of the most striking features of the Internet is its ability to silently transform various aspects of social, political, cultural and, indeed, economic dynamics.

In the midst of the polarization that exists in many parts of the world between those who defend a neo-liberal free market economic model and those who advocate for economic socialism, a new economic logic is emerging on the internet that overcomes this polarization.

What is the Collaborative Economy and what is its impact?

By: Gabriel E. Levy B. www.galevy.com

Just a few decades ago, it was unthinkable for an average European or American middle-class citizen to decide to share his or her home with a stranger, just as it was unthinkable for that same citizen to get into a car of a stranger to go to work, or to allow a stranger to ride in his or her car back from the office to share the costs of the trip. However, this not only happens in the contemporary world, but it is also an everyday and massive occurrence.

Sites such as Airbnb [1] daily motivate millions of people around the world to lend their homes to tourists in exchange for payment, while they themselves no longer prefer to travel to luxurious hotels, but to stay in rooms of family homes and thus get to learn something of their culture and traditions, while many backpackers travel the world agreeing to work hours in hostels in exchange for accommodation and food.

Carpooling [2] and companies like Uber, Lyft and Cabify have forever transformed transportation, and the way people travel, by sharing their vehicles and trips sporadically or systematically.

At the end of the last century an average encyclopedia, depending on the type and language of origin, reported between three thousand and thirty thousand articles and was elaborated by a small group of scholars [3]. Currently Wikipedia reports an average between one and six million articles depending on the language [4] and is collaboratively constructed by thousands of people around the world, in an exercise of unprecedented spontaneous philanthropic creation in the history of humanity.

Crowdfunding [5] allows thousands of projects around the world to find funding thanks to the voluntary contribution of donors or collaborators, allowing the incubation of projects to reach a plural and democratic dimension, while philanthropy and social cause funding have received the necessary oxygen to guarantee the sustainability they require through this modality. This has allowed everything, from simple inventions to elaborate films, to find an expeditious funding mechanism without having to resort to large conventional capitals.

The origins of the concept

The “collaborative economy” concept is not exclusive nor did it have its origins in the Internet, in fact, long before the advent of this great network and alongside its development, various communities around the world have practiced forms of “collaborative consumption”[6].

A collaborative economy is one characterized by a model of consumption based on the exchange of services and experiences, with the particular characteristic that “access” defeats “property”, producing notable changes in the individuals who are part of it, as well as in society itself, evidencing an evolution from individualized consumption to consumption based on exchange as a sophisticated cultural practice.

It is difficult to establish with certainty the origin of the term; however, the concept began to become popular in 2010 with the publication of the book What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption.

Types of “Collaborative Economy” [9]

  1. Collaborative Consumption:

It uses digital platforms whereby users get in touch to exchange goods, services and articles, either without a monetary consideration or with payment as compensation. Generally, this modality uses intermediation platforms such as Uber or Airbnb.

  1. Open Knowledge:

These are multiple strategies to promote the dissemination of knowledge, sharing information, knowledge and experiences, as is the case with many specialized forums.

  1. Collaborative Production:

It refers to the sum of capacities and competencies for the production of a given project or product, by communities and people around the world. These projects can be musical, artistic, in engineering or an encyclopedia such as Wikipedia.

  1. Collaborative Finance:

These are all those forms of voluntary financing that are beyond a simple payment for services, where people donate, invest, project, lend or share their resources, especially through the crowdfunding modality and in many cases, it occurs in non-conventional currencies such as crypto-currencies.

The economy of the new generations

The collaborative economy attracts and involves mainly the new generations, who find a more friendly and associative form of sharing resources, knowledge, experiences and capacities in this model, generating a silent but simultaneously powerful change in the conventional economic structures, creating an unprecedented social, economic and cultural transformation in the history of humanity. The new generations are most likely giving way to a less individualized world where the general interest prevails.

You may be interested in other articles from the “Understanding and Dimensioning” Collection, published on Andinalink.com:

  • Understanding Social and Cultural Convergence
  • Understanding and Dimensioning Transmedia Narrative
  • Understanding the Internet of Everything
  • The Smart City Promise: Understanding Smartcities

[1] Article by El Espectador about the AIRBN phenomenon

[2] Article on the Carpooling phenomenon

[3] Specialized reference article

[4] Official Wikipedia Articles Report

[5] Specialized article on Crowdfunding

[6] Specialized article from “Economipedia”

[7] Academic article on “Collaborative Economics”

[8] Rachel Botsman, Roo Rogers, What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, HarperBusiness, 2010 ISBN 978-0-06-196354-4

[9] Reference article on the collaborative economy

Disclaimer: The published articles correspond to contextual reviews or analyses on digital transformation in the information society, duly supported by reliable and verified academic and/or journalistic sources.  The publications are NOT opinion articles and therefore the information they contain does not necessarily represent Andinalink’s position, nor that of their authors or the entities with which they are formally linked, regarding the topics, persons, entities or organizations mentioned in the text.