What exactly is the "Sharing Economy" these days? Sometimes it smells like something else

sharing.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scaleTreeHugger has been covering the sharing economy since before it got that name; Warren McLaren introduced the concept as Product Service Systems. In the decade since it has exploded.

I was thinking about the issue this past weekend when I used Uber for the first time to go to a wedding, and got into a fight with the groom over whether it is a good thing. I took the position that it was simply using technology to move from a hub-and-spoke model where a middleman controls access (and the drivers' income) to a peer-to-peer system where the driver can contract directly with the user.

He thought it was a return to "every man for himself", that only worked because it was new and there were not that many drivers yet, keeping prices high; that soon the lack of regulation would drive prices down so far that it would be slave wages. That it isn't sharing at all, just a different form of pay for service, but ultimately would end in abuse. That's why people got organized and formed unions. I asked the driver what he thought, and he told me that before Uber he sat around between scheduled rides at the company he drove for, and this way he makes a few extra bucks.

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