Hey, FastCoExist, Paying for it, it’s not being shared

Hey FastCoExist: when you pay for a good or service, it’s not sharing, its buying.  You throw around the term “sharing economy” to denote anything that is not clearly the historic, formal economy we have known for decades or centuries.

  • AirBnB: Paying to sleep in someone’s apartment? not sharing.
  • Uber, Sidecar, Lyft: Paying someone to give you a ride? not sharing.
  • Fiverr, 99Designs, eLance, oDesk: Paying someone to redesign your business cards? not sharing.
  • TaskRabbit: Paying someone to build your Ikea shelf? not sharing.

What this may be a sign of is the rise of the informal economy, the disintermediation of service delivery, or the harnessing of excess supply or even cognitive surplus as Clay Shirky would refer to it in the case of the creative freelancers.

If you want to talk about the sharing economy, talk about couchsurfing, freecycle, craigslistfree and other trends that don’t involve the exchange of money. You debase the notion of sharing otherwise.