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The Not Really Sharing Economy

Words have meaning, words matter.

Sharing is one of the great human attributes; you have something and your neighbor can benefit from it, you see the need, you offer to share it. There’s no or little cost to you, and no cost to your neighbor.

In the lunchroom: “Would you like to share my table?”
On the playground: “Would you like to share my ball?”
At the picnic: “Please, have some of our chicken!”.

That’s sharing.

We share without the expectation of something in return. Sharing is not transactional. It’s an act of generosity, an act of love, and sometimes an act of necessity.

So when the tech, investment, and startup media and bloggers came up with “The Sharing Economy”, they weren’t talking about you and I pooling our tools together, creating a tool library, and sharing it with others. They weren’t talking about a couple sharing a milkshake.

They were talking about transactions involving excess capacity of stuff–a house, a car, an office.

Folks, when you charge me to stay at your house, that is not sharing. That’s a great business model, and I love AirBnb, but that’s not sharing. That’s rent.

When you offer to drive me from one place to another for $15, that’s not sharing. That’s charging me for a transportation service.

Sharing is a beautiful thing. The media–and VCs, and etc, etc etc–got it wrong, and are sullying a great word with an otherwise stellar reputation.

Now that I’ve shared my thoughts with you, I’m going to go charge somebody for a loaf of bread.

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