I fell off my bike yesterday – a victim of icy roads. Nothing broken, but I can hardly move, so have spent most of the day sat on the sofa. It’s a bit of a pain, as I’ve got loads to do, but as always it’s handy to stop, think and read every now and then, even if the thinking is through the fug of painkillers and anti-inflammatories.
One of things I did was watch a TED video about collaborative consumption:
The talk is by Rachel Botsman, co-author of What’s Mine is Yours – The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, which is released in the UK next month.
I’m a sucker for neat concepts and smart phrases such as Collaborative Consumption, but Rachel thinks this is an idea which has staying power. She reckons we’re hard-wired to share, and it’s only recently, in the age of hyper-consumption, that we’ve begun to crave ownership of more goods, rather than focusing on just securing access to goods or services.
In a world with finite resources, there are clear, negative environmental implications of us all racing to own and consume. And there’s a decent argument for saying that our desire for private, exclusive ownership doesn’t do our communities much good either. If we don’t need anything from anyone else, we’re less likely to engage with anyone else.
But the reverse is true also. If we acknowledge our interdependence, and also recognise that sharing things can save money, be more green and perhaps build a bit of community then we may well find that our neighbourhoods feel a bit more like the kind of neighbourhoods that most of us aspire to live in.
As I dipped in and out of Twitter today there was plenty of talk of library closures in the UK. It’s anticipated that lots will close as local councils struggle desperately to make ends meet.
I don’t want to discuss the politics of that just now, but I do want to reflect on the rise of collaborative consumption and the apparent fall of the public library. If some are saved and run by volunteers, will they continue to deliver the same service ? Or might they re-imagine their service as a local hub for collaborative consumption? Maybe I could borrow a guide book to Paris, alongside a power drill? A power drill that someone else in my community has offered up for sharing – at a fee – shared between them and the library? It might be mission drift, or it might just make libraries relevant to more people.