Friday, May 23, 2014

Rifkin's new book continued

Continuing from this post.

Chapter 13 is on the transfer of ownership to access. The automobile is the perfect metaphor for the capitalist paradigm. Therein freedom is defined as being enclosed in one's autonomy with the ability to move about at will. But this is being replaced in the sharing economy of the Commons, as car sharing is becoming increasingly common. Here freedom is defined as the right to include others. He cites voluminous statistics on the growing use of sharing which in turn if drastically reducing car ownership, thus reducing inefficient use, emissions and traffic congestion.

Sharing is also extending to other good and services, including clothing, housing, tools, toys and skills. It turns out with the economic downturn many are questioning why they needed so much stuff in the first place. It lies dormant most of the time and has put them in dire debt. People are becoming aware that they can reduce their debt while making use of their possessions by sharing, which in turn makes them feel part of a community instead of locked away in their enclosed spaces of home and car. They realize the were “sold a bill of goods” (233) that does not add to their happiness. “Reducing addictive consumption, optimizing frugality, and fostering a more sustainable way of life is not only laudable, but essential if we are to ensure our survival” (237).

The change to a Commons is seriously affecting advertising. This is the industry that got us to buy into over-consumption in the first place, equating it with success. The industrial revolution's increased production and wages led to surplus goods and disposable income, so advertising quickly set about to mate the two in a happy marriage of accumulating stuff to feed our enclosed egos. But per above we are shifting away from this and sharing our stuff and reconnecting with each other. Communicating about our stuff directly with one another has reduced the need for depending on advertisers. We now depend far more on each others review of goods and services, since we trust the opinions of peers not bent on selling us something. The rise of Craigslist and Angie's List are examples of this growing trend. And indicative of people taking responsibility to do their own fact checking and peer review on information instead of just accepting an ad on corporate media.

1 comment:

  1. Addendum to the last chapter. There was a section on how the Commons is affecting medicine that I skipped for brevity. The one aspect of that I did want to mention is 3-D printing's ability to 'grow' human tissue using one's own living cells to prevent rejection. So far they've achieved the creation of some liver tissue and a human kidney. They expect that growing organs and specialized tissues will be commonplace within 10 years.

    Which reminds me of the movie Transcendence. Recall that was one of the AI's projects, at first making plants, then human tissues, then organs, then people. That part of the movie at least is barely science fiction. (Well, human cloning production is a bit further off.) Also the people who were connected to, and enhanced by, the AI still maintained their individuality but were all connected to each other like the Commons. The movie may very well be a metaphor for the Commons and the emerging IoT smart grid.

    See this IPS thread for the movie discussion:


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