协作消费（collaborative consumption）这个概念似乎可以用来描述了从在线影片租赁商Netflix到纽约公园坡粮食合作社（Park Slope Food Co-op）的一切。它被“富有创造力、想要改变世界的企业家们”称为一场“革命”。拥护者们声称，它以分享和对等网络为基础，是“亢奋消费”的良药。但是，它所催生的一些理念以及打着它的旗号出现的一些主张看起来更像是传统资本主义减少了负罪感的版本，而并不是什么具有革命性的经济模式。分享就意味着关爱？或者说，分享就是货币化？究竟什么是“协作消费”？
Collaborative consumption is a concept that can seemingly describe anything from Netflix to New York City's Park Slope Food Co-op. It has been called a "revolution" by "creative entrepreneurs who want to change the world" and while its promoters claim it is a cure for "hyperconsumption" based on sharing and peer-to-peer networks, some of the ideas it is beginning to spawn and the claims made on its behalf look more like a reduced-guilt version of the same old capitalism than a revolutionary economic model. Sharing is caring? Or sharing is monetizing? What exactly is "collaborative consumption"?
The first time I heard about collaborative consumption was through a TEDtalk from 2010 by Rachel Botsman, who coined the term to describe a reorganization of mass consumption that could potentially be less wasteful, more communal, more affordable, and seemingly more sensible. In Botsman's talk, examples such as Zipcar, Netflix (NFLX), and Swaptree were used to demonstrate how a new approach to consumption -- one where network services enable items like cars or DVDs to be jointly used or redistributed amongst members -- could make the culture of ownership a thing of the past. "Why buy a drill when what you need is the hole?" Botsman asks, claiming that the average drill gets used 12 to 13 minutes in its lifetime. She suggested that renting a drill from a neighbor, or even renting out your own drill, could begin to solve the issues brought on by our current mode of "hyperconsumption" and mitigate the wasted money and material when individuals commit to owning things they really only need to use once or twice. I thought it sounded pretty reasonable, but as I continued to explore this new economic proposition, I began to have doubts.
The second time I heard about Collaborative Consumption was at the SHARENYConference last fall. An event put on by Parsons and ShareableMagazine, it was a veritable feast of collaborative concepts, featuring speakers whose expertise ranged from communal living without private ownership, cooperative food buying and skill sharing to more profit-oriented approaches such as SnapGoods, Loosecubes and General Assembly. There was an interesting tension between the "sharing-for-sharing's-sake" concepts and the "sharing-for-fun-and-profit" ones, which made me wonder, are all these concepts along the same continuum? Or do they represent two different schools of thought -- one based on participation in a communal project and the other more of a rental service that eliminates the hassle of ownership and as a side benefit, potentially reduces waste and promotes community participation?