Book Review: What’s Mine Is Y(our)s: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

Haiku synopsis:

Tech helps us to share
Old impulses, New ideas
What is mine is yours

Co-authors Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers present a highly readable overview of the collaborative present and future of consumption as new technologies empower and amplify our basic human urge to share.  I was really excited to finally get my review copy of this book, since my masters thesis, SokoSquare, dealt with many of these issues of reclaiming and redefining community (and finding abundance) through collaboration and sharing. In particular, chapter 8, “Collaborative Design” was a particularly inspiring call to action for me as a designer to move beyond creating beautiful artifacts to creating systems and experiences that generate some sort of communal value.  The ethos of collaborative consumption doesn’t see technology and the internet as an end in itself, but instead a coordinating mechanism for enhancing robust communities.

I have also been thinking about these issues in my recent work with HelloElectric.org, a newly-launched social movement for the promotion of electric vehicles.  Widespread adoption of electric vehicles is only one part of the solving the climate and peak oil crises.  We must also change the way we own and use vehicles.  Botsman & Rogers quote Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford:

The future of transportation will be a blend of things like Zipcar, public transportation, and private car ownership.  Not only do I not feat that, but I think it’s a great opportunity for us to participate in the changing nature of car ownership.

Amen to that.

What’s Mine Is Yours is part cultural critique, part aspirational document, and part survey of the current collaborative consumption scene.  Besides Zipcar, the book also explores the success of sites like eBay, craigslist, and CouchSurfing and offers an introduction to some interesting newcomers in the space.

If you like Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age or Douglas Rushkoff’s Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back, this is the book to read next.

Summer Reading/Viewing List

Here is a summer reading/viewing list of books and documentaries relating to my internship at Creative Commons and to my ongoing personal interests.  It’s a self-assigned curriculum for summer self-improvement if you will.  The general themes include technology, the internet, copyright, culture, creativity, and food.  I haven’t actually read all the books yet, but I have seen all the movies.

At the time of writing, all of the works are available for free (legal) viewing or download online except for Food Inc., which is now in theaters around the US – and a must see for EVERY American.  I know I have kind of geeky interests, and not everybody cares to read 300+ page books about copyright, but everybody eats, so go see Food Inc already!

Books

The Wealth of Networks
How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Yochai Benkler

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace 2.0
Lawrence Lessig

Free Culture
How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity
Lawrence Lessig

Remix
Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy
Lawrence Lessig

The Pirates Dilemma
How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism
Matt Mason

The Public Domain
Enclosing the Commons of the Mind
James Boyle

Viral Spiral
How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own
David Bollier

The Future of the Internet And How to Stop It
Jonathan Zittrain

Music and It’s Reflection on Society
Catalan: La Música i el seu reflex en la societat
Spanish: La música y su reflejo en la sociedad
Edited by Indigestió
A collection of essays about the role of music in contemporary society. Only in Spanish and Catalan for now though.

Tales from the Public Domain: Bound By Law?
“Bound by Law translates law into plain English and abstract ideas into ‘visual metaphors.’ So the comic’s heroine, Akiko, brandishes a laser gun as she fends off a cyclopean ‘Rights Monster’ – all the while learning copyright law basics, including the line between fair use and copyright infringement.” -Brandt Goldstein, The Wall Street Journal online

Documentaries

Good Copy/Bad Copy
A Danish documentary about the current state of copyright and culture

Rip: A Remix Manifesto
A Canadian documentary film about copyright and remix culture.

The Future of Food
An in-depth look into the controversy over genetically modified foods.  Watch it online at Snagfilms.

Food, Inc.
Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA.

The Legend of Leigh Bowery
The Legend of Leigh Bowery explores a life lived as if it was a performance. Leigh Bowery was a costume/clothing designer, nightclub impresario, performer, and musician whose vision influenced many of today’s most important artists. He later became known to the world at large as the muse and subject of preeminent British painter Lucian Freud.

Noisy Idiots

noisyIdiot

My ITP classmate, Catherine White, has set up a community on Ning to discuss her ongoing project.  In her own words:

My research is primarily focused on how we work together in groups, particularly how to make collaboration more fruitful, and efficient (and less painful – because it sometimes is). Specifically, I am looking at groups we are part of online.

My thesis project came out of a midterm paper I wrote in March for Clay Shirky’s Social Facts class. I studied a forum online and discovered that there are some people who can be pretty disruptive in groups – even though they may not be violating the rules of the group. Its these people I’m interested in studying, to see how we can structure and govern groups to make collaboration enjoyable, not painful – and to ensure that group decisions reflect the group as a whole….

One small explanation about the term ‘Noisy Idiots’ – my main aim is to find ways to include people in debate and groups. The phrase came about in a playful manner due to sheer frustration at seeing some people dominate group discussion in a disruptive way. This paper tackles tricky issues such as balancing free speech and constructive conversation, but the aim is to get us all talking and listening to each other. I also understand the very important role that minority voices play in conversation – and am in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t listen to those with a view that is different to ours.

I’d be hugely grateful to hear your thoughts – and your ideas, thank you.

Read the the draft of Catherine’s paper and join the conversation at the Noisy Idiots Ning Community. Continue reading Noisy Idiots

Forum on Participation and Politics Online

Forum on Participation and Politics Online

Yesterday, I attended a forum on democracy, politics and participation online hosted by OneWebDay at NYU Law School. The forum was part of Internet Week in New York. I have uploaded the entire panel discussion as a podcast for you to experience yourselves.

The Panelists:

Baratunde Thurston – Comedian, Pundit; Web Editor, The Onion

Andrew Rasiej – Founder, Personal Democracy Forum

Jay Rosen – Professor, NYU Department of Journalism; Founder, New Assignment.net

Moderator: Allison Fine – Author, Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age

Photos of the Forum on Flickr.

New Gear: Zoom H2 Handy Recorder

I received my new Zoom H2 Handy Recorder in the mail today. I can’t wait to try it out. I will definitely be bringing it on my trip to San Francisco this weekend (October 6-8), and look forward to using it to make LEESEAN.net and Hepnova.com demos, field recordings and podcasts in the future.