Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nesta event on Collaborative consumption review part.1 (Rachel Botsman)

I was up rather too early this morning to go to a Nesta event entitled Collaborative Consumption: Re-imagining public services. It started for breakfast at 8am (four coffee's in I was buzzing like Hunter S Thompson). The speakers were:-

*Rachel Botsman, author of "What's mine is yours"
*Philip Colligan, Executive Director of NESTA's Public Services Lab
*Ben Dineen, Spice time bank founder
*Giles Andrews, founder of social lending site Zopa
*Vinay Gupta, founder of WhipCar

I tweeted the event and here is the community hashtag (if interested).

Well, the first to start the ball rolling was Rachel Botsman after the formal introductions by Phil. Rachel started with a little excercise were we exchanged objects of value on our possession. Exchanging my ibook for an iphone made me feel very inhibited. The excercise was to show the object of trust need in the 'new' collaborative markets. She then discussed farmville and how this created a community in a virtual space for 1% of the world. She then pointed out this maybe due to people's wish to return to the land. She pointed out, that at present there is a waiting list for allotments of 10-14 years. Therefore, collaborative communities where land have been created. She said her parents had recent joined one called landshare. In which a community without land will 'hire' the garden space of a house, and the person using it repays in vegetable, flowers or whatever (so a barter economy really). She mentioned her father found the payback was not the food but nowing their neighbours. Nice story, but I live in London so as NOT to know my neighbours.
Rachel then went on to discuss what was termed 'internet enables effiecency and trust' [note, these notes are via my tweets, so their not her EXACT quotes]. In this statement I believe she was regurgatating other authors such as Charles Leadbeater, Chris Brogan and Don Tapscott. These authors cover similar areas, like collaborating, making trust a new form of currency and how working together will assist economic growth (sweeping generalisation, but you get the idea?) This in no way belittles the message, but the utopic view that a network works for a great future of free exchange does grate my political slant on things. I can see that what Rachel is saying, but I can't agree that it works. But, to her defence, she did say we are in the early stages of Collaborative consumption, and there will be problems.
Anyhow, she then discussed how Collaborative consumption is working around the world and spoke Weldon Irby, 97 year old former welding, who wanted to create a community even though he was old but had a skill. This skill was accepting old bikes to repair and give to the poor in his area. Therefore, he gains. In using his skills and making peoples live's better. He is now called santa bicycle.
Rachel then discussed hand drills. Don't switch off. Many of us own one, but its used 12 minutes in our life time. She pointed out that consumption made us want the product even though we don't need it. She then quoted Kevin Kelly on consumption, when he said we want 'access over ownership'. That resonates. Perhaps an exchange of products is a good idea (though I doubt advertisers would agree on this point).
She then discussed the problems with collaborating. The packaging sounds anarcho-communist. Sharing? In a capitalist world? But she felt in many ways it would improve our lives, in we give something back, feel better about ourselves and use less of the worlds resources. Fair comment I feel.
I liked some of it, but I still have problems with it, but I'll discuss them later in the series here.

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