Enjoy this cool talk by an Australian, Rachel Botsman, about collaborative consumption as a powerful economic force, reinventing both what we consume and how we consume.
Her main point is that in the 20th Century, we became fixated on owning things, when what we really want is not the thing, but the experience that the thing generates.
Once we have made this insight, life becomes a lot simpler and cheaper.
Thus the books and CDs that we all have lying around the house but we can’t bring ourselves to throw away, have latent value to someone else. Now we can easily exchange those for stuff that we want, through swap trading sites like www.swap.com.
Even a few years ago, it would have seemed impossible to trust a total stranger. But Botsman’s research shows how sites like these generate the trust that can enable exchanges between total strangers.
Ultimately we (usually) don’t want the physical CD (although we may be sentimentally attached to some physical CDs). What we want is the musical experience that the CD will generate.
Similarly, the electric drill that I own is something I need only ten minutes a year. For the rest of the year, it’s totally wasted, just taking up space. In reality, even for that ten minutes, I don’t really want a drill: I want a hole. Why not get a drill when I need it?
People who don’t drive much are spending an enormous amount of money just owning a car, when what they really want is not the physical car but rather the convenience of being able to drive somewhere when they need. Firms like zipcar.com are beginning to oblige.
A new world is opening up in which we focus on the experiences that the things generate, not the things themselves. In the process, life becomes simpler and cheaper.