Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The Mis-utopia of The Sharing Economy
As far as euphemisms go, one can't do much worse than calling something a Sharing Economy which is neither about sharing nor an economy in the usual sense of the term.
Consider the beginnings, all that excitement about technologies of connection and collaboration being available cheaply and at a global scale, which was thought to have the potential of unlocking the gift economy, those little things that we do for one another without necessarily expecting anything in return, and give it a scale and scope not otherwise possible. However, the Sharing Economy, as the idea was usurped, became exactly the opposite, a mad rush for monetising every little thing - a death sentence for 'sharing', that is.
And, this is hardly an economy. An economy is a system, not just one for commission-for-everything deal making. It involves people, winners and losers, yes, but not one where only bookies stand to win at everyone else's cost. And, indeed, it involves relationships, even when it's all business. The man who drives me to airport most times I go overseas, Phil, tells me that he would never go over to Uber because his customers then wouldn't be able to ask specifically, as I do every time I call the cab service, for him. It is only an illusion to take an algorithm for an economy, and only arrogantly delusional can get away with that when talking to others.
Fast Company writes about the troubles of the sharing economy (see here), but this is to be expected. One is unlikely change the world by earning a commission of it. For such an endeavour, one needs to create winners - earning a share of the winnings is a far sweeter thing! The masks of rhetoric of Uber, Lyft and Handy are falling off far too quickly, and the army of the exploited they are creating on their wake, while undermining the systems of propriety and conduct along the way (not to mention the destruction of the gift economy), are becoming far too obvious. It is time to call its name - how about organised pimping - and save our cherished habit of sharing for some better endeavour.
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the...
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are ...
I remember this awkward dinner conversation. I was with my colleague in Northern Ireland, and a friend of his joined our table. After we w...
I am now in India, after a gap of several months. A lot has changed in the few months since I was last here. Most visibly, the money has c...
As Brexit starts to bite, the politics of it has come alive again. There are some clear signs that the British economy has started co...
The idea came to me from various conversations in China and India: That teacher training in Higher Education is an urgent need and a signi...
Working in Education, I have to confront the conversations about Automation all the time: Are there enough jobs there for us to educate so...
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today –...
Evolution of Meritocracy: American Eugenics, Intelligence Testing and The Making Of Modern MeritocracyIntroduction In the second decade of the new millennium - now - new questions about human abilities and human worth have arisen. A vas...
The world of politics is changing profoundly. It is not just about the rise of the strongmen rulers - President Xi of China, Prime Ministe...
How To Live
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T S Eliot
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.