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  • [intro music]

  • [applause]

  • Thanks for setting high expectations Remo [laughs], always good...um, 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 economic force,

  • re-inventing 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?

  • Um, on our shelves at home, we have a box set of the dvd,

  • dvd series 24 (season 6 to be precise).

  • Um, I think it was bought for us around 3 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's going to defeat the terrorist.

  • So there it sits, on our shelves, whoops, um, 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

  • at the moment called "swap-trading".

  • Now, the easiest analogy for swap-trading is like,

  • um, an online dating service for all your unwanted media.

  • What it does is use the internet to create an infinite market

  • place 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 fifty-nine thousand, three hundred items

  • that I could instantly swap for my copy of 24.

  • Low and behold, there in Resdy, California, was Rondoron,

  • who wanted to 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 Carrie

  • and company sugar rush problem, a problem the economists

  • call "coincidence of wants"- in approximately 60 seconds.

  • What's even more amazing is that it'll print out a postage

  • label on the spot because it knows the weight of the item.

  • Now there are layers of technical wonder behind such 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,

  • are the collaborative behaviours and trust mechanics inherent

  • in these systems. When you think about it, it would've 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% of trades on Swaptree

  • happen successfully, and the 1% 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, on a scale and in ways

  • that've 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 re-invented into dynamic and appealing forms.

  • What I find fascinating is that we've actually wired our world

  • to share, whether that's our neighbourhood, our school,

  • our office, or our Facebook network. And that's creating

  • an economy of "what's mine is yours".

  • From the mighty E-Bay, the grandfather of exchange market places, to car sharing companies

  • such as Go-Get, where you pay a monthly fee

  • to rent cars by the hour, to social lending platforms such as Zoper,

  • that will take anyone in this audience with a hundred 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 then hippy. I call this ground-swell "collaborative consumption".

  • Now, before I dig in to 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 was, a few years ago,

  • how many big concepts were emerging, from the Wisdom

  • of Crowds to Smart Mobs and how ridiculously easy

  • it is to form groups for a purpose.

  • A link to this crowd mania, for 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 every where? 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 middle man,

  • 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 how they're actually tapping

  • in to our primate instincts. I mean, we're monkeys,

  • and we're born and bred to share and co-operate.

  • And we were doing so for thousands of years, whether

  • it's when we hunted in packs, or farmed in corp,

  • farmed in co-operatives, before this big system called

  • hyper-consumption came along, and we built these fences,

  • and created our own little fiefdoms. But things are changing,

  • and one of the reasons why are 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.

  • Now, all of this was flying through my head, around the end of 2008,

  • when of course, sorry. Um, the reason why it's happening

  • so fast is because of mobile collaboration. Er, 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 Freedman is one of my favourite New York times columnists,

  • and he poignantly commented that 2008 was 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,

  • was a lot of noise and complexity in my head until actually

  • I realised it was happening because of all key drivers:

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

  • and a very re-definition of what friend and neighbour

  • really means; a torrent of peer to peer social networks

  • and real time technologies, fundamentally changing the way we,

  • we behave; three, pressing unresolved environmental concerns;

  • and four, a global recession that has fundamentally

  • shocked consumer behaviours. These four drivers are fusing

  • together and creating the big shift, away from the twentieth

  • century defined by hyper-consumption, towards the twenty-first

  • century defined by collaborative consumption.

  • I genuinely believe that we're at an inflection point,

  • where the sharing behaviours (through sites such as "Flickr"

  • and "Twitter") that are becoming second nature on-line,

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

  • From morning commutes, the way fashion is designed,

  • it's 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 though they vary enormously

  • in scale, maturity and purpose, when we dived into them

  • we realised that they could actually be organised into three

  • clear systems. The first is redistribution markets.

  • Redistribution markets, just like swaptree, is when you take

  • a used or pre-owned i-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",

  • which is reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, and redistribute,

  • because they stretch the lifecycle of a product,

  • and thereby reduce waste.

  • The second is collaborative lifestyles. This is the sharing

  • in resources of things like money, skills, and time.

  • I bet in a couple of years, that phrases like "co-working"

  • and "couch-surfing" and "time-banks" are going to become

  • a part of everyday vernacular. One of my, er, favourite

  • examples of collaborative consumption, er, collaborative

  • lifestyles, is called land share. It's a scheme in the UK

  • 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 a

  • product,

  • what it does for you, without needing to own the product outright.

  • This idea is particularly powerful for things that have high

  • idling capacity. And that can be anything from baby goods,

  • to fashions, to, how many of you have a power drill?

  • Own a power drill? Right, that power drill will be used

  • around 12 to 13 minutes in its entire lifetime. [laughter]

  • It's kind of ridiculous, right, because what you need

  • is the hole, not the drill. [laughter and applause]

  • So why don't you rent the drill? Or even better, rent out

  • your own drill to other people and make some money from it?

  • These three systems are coming together and allowing people

  • to share resources without sacrificing their lifestyles

  • or their cherished personal freedoms. I'm not asking

  • people to share nicely in the sandpit.

  • So, I just want to give you an example of how powerful

  • collaborative consumption can be to change behaviours:

  • The average car costs eight thousand dollars a year to run.

  • Yet that car sits idle for 23 hours a day.

  • So when you consider these just, these two facts, it starts

  • to make a little less sense that we have to own one outright.

  • So this is where car sharing companies such as Zipcar and Go Get

  • come in. In 2009, Zipcar took, sorry, two hundred and fifty

  • participants from across 13 cities, and they're all

  • self-confessed car addicts and car sharing rookies,

  • and got them to surrender their keys for a month.

  • Instead these people had to walk, bike, take the train,

  • or other forms of public transport. They could only use their

  • Zipcar membership when absolutely necessary.

  • The results of this challenge, after just one month, were staggering.

  • It's amazing that 413 pounds were lost,

  • just from the extra exercise. But my favourite statistic

  • is that one hundred, out of the two hundred and fifty participants,

  • did not want their keys back. In other words, the car addicts

  • had lost their urge to own.

  • Now, product service systems have been around for years,

  • just think of libraries and launderettes.

  • But I think we're entering a new age, because technology

  • makes sharing frictionless and fun.

  • There's a great quote that was written in the New York Times,

  • it said, um, "sharing is to ownership what the iPod

  • is to the a-track, what solar power is to the coal mine".

  • I believe also, our generation, our relationship to satisfying

  • what we want is far less tangible than any other previous

  • generation. I don't want the dvd, I want the movie it carried.

  • I don't want a clunky answering machine, I want the message

  • it saved. I don't want a cd, I want the music it played.

  • In other words, I don't want stuff, I want the needs

  • or the experiences it fulfils. This is fuelling a massive

  • shift from where uses trumps possessions, or as Kevin Kelly,

  • the editor of Wide magazine puts it: "where access is better than ownership".

  • Now, as our possessions dematerialise into the cloud,

  • a blurry line is appearing between what's mine, what's yours,

  • and what's ours. I want to give you one example that shows

  • how fast this evolution is happening:

  • This represents an 8 year time span. We've gone from traditional

  • car ownership, to car sharing companies (such as Zipcar and Go Get),

  • to ride sharing platforms that match rides, to the newer century

  • which is peer to peer car rental, where you can actually

  • make money out of renting that car that sits idle 23 hours a day,

  • to your neighbour.

  • Now, all of these systems require a degree of trust,

  • and the corner stone to this working is reputation.

  • Now, in the old consumer system, our reputation didn't matter

  • so much, because our credit history was far more important

  • than any kind of peer to peer review. But now, with the web,

  • we leave a trail. With every spammer we flag, with every idea

  • we post, comment we share, we're actually signalling how well

  • we collaborate, and whether we can or can't be trusted.

  • Let's go