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  • So today I'm going to talk to you

  • about the rise of collaborative consumption.

  • I'm going to explain what it is

  • and try and convince you -- in just 15 minutes --

  • that this isn't a flimsy idea,

  • or a short-term trend,

  • but a powerful cultural and economic force

  • reinventing not just what we consume,

  • but how we consume.

  • Now I'm going to start with a deceptively simple example.

  • Hands up -- how many of you

  • have books, CDs, DVDs, or videos

  • lying around your house

  • that you probably won't use again,

  • but you can't quite bring yourself to throw away?

  • Can't see all the hands,

  • but it looks like all of you, right?

  • On our shelves at home,

  • we have a box set of the DVD series "24,"

  • season six to be precise.

  • I think it was bought for us around three years ago for a Christmas present.

  • Now my husband, Chris, and I

  • love this show.

  • But let's face it, when you've watched it once maybe, or twice,

  • you don't really want to watch it again,

  • because you know how Jack Bauer is going to defeat the terrorists.

  • So there it sits on our shelves

  • obsolete to us,

  • but with immediate latent value to someone else.

  • Now before we go on, I have a confession to make.

  • I lived in New York for 10 years,

  • and I am a big fan of "Sex and the City."

  • Now I'd love to watch the first movie again

  • as sort of a warm-up to the sequel coming out next week.

  • So how easily could I swap

  • our unwanted copy of "24"

  • for a wanted copy of "Sex and the City?"

  • Now you may have noticed

  • there's a new sector emerging called swap-trading.

  • Now the easiest analogy for swap-trading

  • is like an online dating service

  • for all your unwanted media.

  • What it does is use the Internet

  • to create an infinite marketplace

  • to match person A's "haves"

  • with person C's "wants,"

  • whatever they may be.

  • The other week, I went on one of these sites,

  • appropriately called Swaptree,

  • and there were over 59,300 items

  • that I could instantly swap

  • for my copy of "24."

  • Lo and behold,

  • there in Reseda, CA was Rondoron

  • who wanted swap his or her

  • "like new" copy of "Sex and the City"

  • for my copy of "24."

  • So in other words, what's happening here

  • is that Swaptree

  • solves my carrying company's sugar rush problem,

  • a problem the economists call "the coincidence of wants,"

  • in approximately 60 seconds.

  • What's even more amazing is it will print out a postage label on the spot,

  • because it knows the way of the item.

  • Now there are layers of technical wonder

  • behind sites such as Swaptree,

  • but that's not my interest,

  • and nor is swap trading, per se.

  • My passion, and what I've spent the last few years

  • dedicated to researching,

  • is the collaborative behaviors and trust-mechanics

  • inherent in these systems.

  • When you think about it,

  • it would have seemed like a crazy idea, even a few years ago,

  • that I would swap my stuff with a total stranger

  • whose real name I didn't know

  • and without any money changing hands.

  • Yet 99 percent of trades on Swaptree

  • happen successfully,

  • and the one percent that receive a negative rating,

  • it's for relatively minor reasons,

  • like the item didn't arrive on time.

  • So what's happening here?

  • An extremely powerful dynamic

  • that has huge commercial and cultural implications

  • is at play.

  • Namely, that technology

  • is enabling

  • trust between strangers.

  • We now live in a global village

  • where we can mimic the ties

  • that used to happen face to face,

  • but on a scale and in ways

  • that have never been possible before.

  • So what's actually happening

  • is that social networks and real-time technologies

  • are taking us back.

  • We're bartering, trading,

  • swapping, sharing,

  • but they're being reinvented

  • into dynamic and appealing forms.

  • What I find fascinating

  • is that we've actually wired our world to share,

  • whether that's our neighborhood, our school,

  • our office, or our Facebook network,

  • and that's creating an economy

  • of "what's mine is yours."

  • From the mighty eBay,

  • the grandfather of exchange marketplaces,

  • to car-sharing companies such as GoGet,

  • where you pay a monthly fee to rent cars by the hour,

  • to social lending platforms such as Zopa,

  • that will take anyone in this audience

  • with 100 dollars to lend,

  • and match them with a borrower anywhere in the world,

  • we're sharing and collaborating again

  • in ways that I believe

  • are more hip than hippie.

  • I call this "groundswell collaborative consumption."

  • Now before I dig into the different systems

  • of collaborative consumption,

  • I'd like to try and answer the question

  • that every author rightfully gets asked,

  • which is, where did this idea come from?

  • Now I'd like to say I woke up one morning

  • and said, "I'm going to write about collaborative consumption,"

  • but actually it was a complicated web

  • of seemingly disconnected ideas.

  • Over the next minute,

  • you're going to see a bit like a conceptual fireworks display

  • of all the dots that went on in my head.

  • The first thing I began to notice:

  • how many big concepts were emerging --

  • from the wisdom of crowds to smart mobs --

  • around how ridiculously easy it is

  • to form groups for a purpose.

  • And linked to this crowd mania

  • were examples all around the world --

  • from the election of a president

  • to the infamous Wikipedia, and everything in between --

  • on what the power of numbers could achieve.

  • Now, you know when you learn a new word,

  • and then you start to see that word everywhere?

  • That's what happened to me

  • when I noticed that we are moving

  • from passive consumers

  • to creators,

  • to highly enabled collaborators.

  • What's happening

  • is the Internet is removing the middleman,

  • so that anyone from a T-shirt designer

  • to a knitter

  • can make a living selling peer-to-peer.

  • And the ubiquitous force

  • of this peer-to-peer revolution

  • means that sharing is happening at phenomenal rates.

  • I mean, it's amazing to think

  • that, in every single minute of this speech,

  • 25 hours

  • of YouTube video will be loaded.

  • Now what I find fascinating about these examples

  • is how they're actually tapping into

  • our primate instincts.

  • I mean, we're monkeys,

  • and we're born and bred to share and cooperate.

  • And we were doing so for thousands of years,

  • whether it's when we hunted in packs,

  • or farmed in cooperatives,

  • before this big system called hyper-consumption came along

  • and we built these fences

  • and created out own little fiefdoms.

  • But things are changing,

  • and one of the reasons why

  • is the digital natives, or Gen-Y.

  • They're growing up sharing --

  • files, video games, knowledge.

  • It's second nature to them.

  • So we, the millennials -- I am just a millennial --

  • are like foot soldiers,

  • moving us from a culture of "me" to a culture of "we."

  • The reason why it's happening so fast

  • is because of mobile collaboration.

  • We now live in a connected age

  • where we can locate anyone, anytime, in real-time,

  • from a small device in our hands.

  • All of this was going through my head

  • towards the end of 2008,

  • when, of course, the great financial crash happened.

  • Thomas Friedman is one of my favorite New York Times columnists,

  • and he poignantly commented

  • that 2008 is when we hit a wall,

  • when Mother Nature and the market

  • both said, "No more."

  • Now we rationally know

  • that an economy built on hyper-consumption

  • is a Ponzi scheme. It's a house of cards.

  • Yet, it's hard for us to individually know what to do.

  • So all of this is a lot of twittering, right?

  • Well it was a lot of noise and complexity in my head,

  • until actually I realized it was happening

  • because of four key drivers.

  • One, a renewed belief in the importance of community,

  • and a very redefinition of what friend and neighbor really means.

  • A torrent of peer-to-peer social networks

  • and real-time technologies,

  • fundamentally changing the way we behave.

  • Three, pressing unresolved environmental concerns.

  • And four, a global recession

  • that has fundamentally shocked

  • consumer behaviors.

  • These four drivers

  • are fusing together

  • and creating the big shift --

  • away from the 20th century,

  • defined by hyper-consumption,

  • towards the 21st century,

  • defined by collaborative consumption.

  • I generally believe we're at an inflection point

  • where the sharing behaviors --

  • through sites such as Flickr and Twitter

  • that are becoming second nature online --

  • are being applied to offline areas of our everyday lives.

  • From morning commutes to the way fashion is designed

  • to the way we grow food,

  • we are consuming and collaborating once again.

  • So my co-author, Roo Rogers, and I

  • have actually gathered thousands of examples

  • from all around the world of collaborative consumption.

  • And although they vary enormously

  • in scale, maturity and purpose,

  • when we dived into them,

  • we realized that they could actually be organized into three clear systems.

  • The first is redistribution markets.

  • Redistribution markets, just like Swaptree,

  • are when you take a used, or pre-owned, item

  • and move it from where it's not needed

  • to somewhere, or someone, where it is.

  • They're increasingly thought of as the fifth 'R' --

  • reduce, reuse, recycle, repair

  • and redistribute --

  • because they stretch the life cycle of a product

  • and thereby reduce waste.

  • The second is collaborative lifestyles.

  • This is the sharing of resources

  • of things like money, skills and time.

  • I bet, in a couple of years,

  • that phrases like "coworking"

  • and "couchsurfing" and "time banks"

  • are going to become a part of everyday vernacular.

  • One of my favorite examples of collaborative lifestyles

  • is called Landshare.

  • It's a scheme in the U.K.

  • that matches Mr. Jones,

  • with some spare space in his back garden,

  • with Mrs. Smith, a would-be grower.

  • Together they grow their own food.

  • It's one of those ideas that's so simple, yet brilliant,

  • you wonder why it's never been done before.

  • Now, the third system

  • is product-service systems.

  • This is where you pay for the benefit of the product --

  • what it does for you --

  • without needing to own the product outright.