[Book Review] What’s Mine is Yours: the Rise of Collaborative Consumption

In college I read a few things about culture, collaboration and communication, including Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, as well as work by and work critiquing sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. These works helped influence a lot of scholarship as they shine a light on human interaction and communication among groups.

Lately, I’ve been thumbing through a book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers – a book earnest in it’s thoughts about collaboration and equally interested in uncovering new and useful links for what makes these groups work. The book is titled What’s Mine is Yours – The Rise of Collaborative Consumption.

I’ve found it to be an interesting book with much to say about both the history and the future of consumerist culture. I think it is a well-written book with useful information for anyone interested in …

  • how today’s consumer networks are developing
  • case studies related to Internet trends and emerging culture
  • consumerism or (as the book notes) hyper-consumerism past, present and future

Sustainability blog Treehugger has reviewed the book and highlights the change in consumption patterns showcased and promoted in the book. As the authors throw out facts, figures and case studies related to consumer culture, evidence that people are more responsive to and interested in new methods of consumption add up. The idea that people have found increased interest (if not need) to freecycle, AirBNB and consume more intelligently and together is an intriguing one to say the least.

When you consider the works of people like Benjamin Barber, author of Consumed and Jihad vs. McWorld (a scholar who writes about consumer culture and it’s by-products – notably the infantilization of adults) it’s not very much of a stretch to think we need a change our values, attitudes and behaviors.toward consumer goods.

Moving on…

Many of the current studies and speculations about Generation Y, or the Millennials suggest a continued up-tick of the type of attributes that make them reasonable purveyors of collaborative consumption. And, as the book suggests (smartly) many of the characteristics attributed to Mellinials are in fact not limited to those of that age group.

Albeit, Millennials (not unlike other generations) on paper are paradoxical. They are more interested in autonomy and at the same time very earnestly into volunteering. They are not interested in money for money’s sake but are readily acceptive and responsive to consumerist culture including advertisements. While these attributes characterize a generation they also point to shifted expectations within and throughout (emerging) consumer culture.

Below is a video with Rachel Botsman discussing the global movement of collaborative consumption.

“I think for the last 50 years we’ve been treated as passive, stupid consumers. The idea of being consumer first citizen second is a really new idea. I mean it only kicked in post-war around 1950s. And what I think is interesting is that the objects being produced are really dumb as well. I mean they’re full of obsolescence. Actually what’s happening with technology is the objects are becoming smart and social. And we’re becoming smart and social again.”

The Rub

I have more to read and consider with this book. I’m also trying to read Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody and David Brooks’ The Social Animal. Without a doubt though, Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Botsman have a compelling book in What’s Mine is Yours.

Marketers should be put on notice: the visions outlined in this book present valuable insight as to how these new markets are forming. This book also gives evidence – if not game plans – for how these markets will be fueled by generations to come.

[Book Look] Carr, Kelly, plus on What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

Whoops. Forgot what I was doing…oh yeah. Today there are a number of theories, speculations and Oh My Gosh the Sky is Falling arguments, articles and books that propose various effects resulting from our love of the Internet and tech gadgetry. If you, too, spend a fair amount of your week (say 80 hrs) working online or being gadgety you might be interested in the arguments being posited. Let’s see…

Internet BrainArguments on whether the Internnnnet10 00101s1011 arting to 002001 re-wire our bra1ns.

Some of the major arguments point to the facts that (collectively) our thinking processes appear to be changing from our extensive use of the Internet. Where we once were more given to deep, linear thinking, we’re now more adept at layered, spacial, and possibly multi-directional thinking. Our brain patterns do seem to be changing their processing paths as we spend more and more time online using Internet tools and technologies.

(Similarly) Arguments on whether an overload of gadetry is starting to re-wire our brains.

The New York Times published an interesting piece (Hooked on Gadgets and Paying a Mental Price) on the ways gadgets seem to be (a) invading our daily lives, absorbing any and all free time; and (b) causing our brains to release dopamine – a chemical reaction (& drug) to the enjoyment of – for instance – receiving a new text message.

And while it has been published that social media has replaced pornography as the #1 online time suck, it would appear dopamine is still very much in the picture. Re-wiring our brains. Causing us to become addicted to our gadgets and networks?

Yet, there are some (Kevin Kelly and Robert Wright for instance) that believe even in light of such evidences that our connectivity through social networks, the Internet and gadgets are positively helping us become part of a supportive eco-system, a superorganism of sorts. This argument suggests that our changes aren’t inherently lethal, rather an evolution.

However it does work out – collectively we do appear to be spending more and more time, becoming more and more scattered, and are replacing previously praised practices. *Independent news documentary source Frontline offers an interesting look into ‘life on the virtual frontier’ in their Digital Nation series, worth a peek.

So, if I haven’t totally weirded you out and made you run screaming toward the ? Internet : ) perhaps you’ll stay awhile and humor me with a comment or two? Your thoughts are intriguing – course mine must be too because people are always screaming at me, “What Are You Thinking!?”

Please have at it, share your stories, gasps, resources, else. And please, if you see me offline, stop me and say, “Hey! – What about that?”

Photo credit goes to Quapan on Flickr – thanks for sharing.

[Book Review] Socialnomics: Erik Qualman’s Wiley Book

Erik Qualman is the Global Vice President of Online Marketing for EF Education. He recently published, Socialnomics: how social media transforms the way we live and do business.

I haven’t gotten too deep into Qualman’s book, but I can share some of my reflections from what I’ve read thus far of the book. And I’ll add to that, interactions that I have had with Erik (assumably: and likely) through the Twitter account which promotes the book.

The Basic Run-Down: Despite some of the Chicken-Little reflections of what is (and-has) and will likely happen in the social web, Qualman makes known some of the genuine developments of the space. Though, a large percent of what I’ve seen so far is from a cultural perspective, he does provide understanding that could translate into an increased advantage to promotional users, like myself.

What I mean is, you won’t get practical advice about using social (anything) to advance your brand or your business. This isn’t a tactical book about how to use social tools and social networks to one’s promotional or other objectives (at least it doesn’t appear to be so far), rather it is more of a retelling of what is already pretty well know. Which is, as the subtitle suggests, the truth that our lives and business practices are (continually) being changed by advancements and opportunities with technologies.

Real Change: Social media, and social networks in particular could arguably be categorized as a social development  (ie. the way we use these technologies have change, so it’s more of a cultural shift, but the technologies change too) so, really technology is still at the heart of things.

Semantics aside. The frenzied state of which much of the book has presented the “social world” have led me to think that Qualman is less the preceeding visionary and more the recap historian.

The Last Word (for now): While much of what is being said in the book is interesting and honest, the frantic delivery of NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME:; it’s all changing and it’s all happening because of THIS and ONLY THIS feel a little embarrassing.

I hope that as I get further into the book (I’m on page 33 now) I’ll find that the Chicken-Little bit has dropped off a bit and the delivery is leaner of OMG.

*I’d like to add as a disclaimer: Obviously no one here is perfect. Qualman or any other book author. And the fact that he has written, and published, and is promoting his book (I’ve had some interaction on Twitter) is phenomenal. I’ve written no books, and so I feel a little judgmental/hypocritical in picking apart his book, but heck I gotta write about something. : ) Seriously, though much of what I attempt to do with this blog is to speak my two cents worth and hopefully that is for betterment, not demise.

Book Update: The Buerlinien Arguement and Other Reasons Everyone Has ADD

So a few weeks ago I told you I was reading Mr. Buerlien’s The Dumbest Generation. That activity has continued and I’m continuing to enjoy the arguments laid out by the professor. Poking around on PBS’s website recently I stumbled upon a video of him as well. I’m in the middle of the book now and we’ve covered research in education, screens as a natural part of emerging generations’ lives, and the seemingly but unfounded evolution of human beings thanks to our new technologically influenced aptitude – this referring to the newer generations’ ability to process multiple channels of activity.

Here’s the link to the Digital Nation website and repository of videos.

Bauerlein, Survey Resources & the Dumbest Generation

I’m reading a book by Mark Bauerlein, professor at Emory University, it’s called The Dumbest Generation. The subtitle is, “How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future”. So far I’ve found it to be pretty intriguing. I’ve read the introduction and I”m into the first chapter, page 28.

In process of reaching this point, I’ve found a few online resources Mr. Bauerlein provides. I’ll list them here for your perusal and my safe keeping.