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February 9, 2013 12:58 PM   Subscribe

AirBnB And The Unstoppable Rise Of The Share Economy
“We’re going to have to invent new economics to capture the impact of the sharing economy,” says Arun Sundararajan, a professor at the Stern School of Business at NYU who studies this phenomenon. The largest question for academics is whether this all creates new value or just replaces existing businesses. The answer is surely both. It’s classic creative destruction.

Rent Or Own? The New Sharing economy Values Access Over Ownership. Whether it's called "the sharing economy" or "collaborative consumption", an increasingly networked world "allows an unprecedented degree of collaboration within communities." There is even a World Sharing Day. It's easy to oversell the impact of how global communication networks enable the "sharing economy" or "trust economy," and there are growing pains as attempts to monetize living space, possessions and talents run into local laws: Airbnb’s growing pains mirrored in New York City, where half its listings are illegal rentals
a basic search on Airbnb.com for New York City lodging demonstrates that more than half of the available bookings on the popular vacation rental website are likely illegal according to New York State law. Hosts of these units are subject to fines ranging from $1,000 for a first offense to $20,000 for repeated violations, according to a New York City Council bill passed in October.

A Policy Agenda for the Sharing Economy
For urbanists, the rise of the sharing economy is gratifying. These sharing services are extensions of our community. They require a belief in the commons (i.e., public space, public education, health and the infrastructure that allows our society to function), which cities foster, and they are amplified by the kind of physical proximity that only exists in cities. Metrics increasingly reveal that sharing economy businesses tend to generate greater economic benefits and reinvestment in the community. Studies have shown, for example, that for every reduction of 15,000 owned cars, a city keeps $127 million in the local economy as people are able to get what they need within a smaller geographic area.
posted by the man of twists and turns (53 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
This all seems to greatly conflate the commons with fuller utilization of private assets. What about my renting a spare room via AirBnB in Anytown helps the community in Anytown?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 1:07 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


What about my renting a spare room via AirBnB in Anytown helps the community in Anytown?

Well, you could certainly argue that renting from a private person who lives in Anytown keeps far more of your rental dollars nearby, to be used on Anytown goods and services, then renting a hotel room from a major chain.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:15 PM on February 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


What about my renting a spare room via AirBnB in Anytown helps the community in Anytown?

I rented a room on AirBnB in Montreal and proceeded to spend a very large sum of money at Au Pied Du Couchon, Joe Beef, and other local restaurants and food markets. I'm just not travelling for the digs, I'm travelling for the food. If I had to spend a lot of money on a hotel I might not go at all.

Furthermore some of these things eventually become seeds to larger businesses. My friend Iliana Regan started out serving meals in her apartment and now owns her own restaurant Elizabeth in Chicago.
posted by melissam at 1:18 PM on February 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Huh, the anecdote of how Airbnb got its name is pretty cool. I'd always wondered about that.

Some friends of mine roadtripped to the Super Bowl this year, and they were able to do that because they found a good deal on Airbnb. The dad of one of the trippers rented a skeezy motel room for nearly double the amount of money they paid for a decent house right in the heart of the city. That probably means they ended up spending more money in bars and restaurants than they would've otherwise.
posted by codacorolla at 1:21 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, so I'm familiar with why local economies benefit from dollars being spent locally.

What does that have to do with "sharing" or "the commons"?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 1:23 PM on February 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Authorities in Amsterdam are trying to crack down on AirBNB listings for being illegal hotels. Seriously.
posted by knile at 1:25 PM on February 9, 2013


In principle, you reduce demand for either short or longer term rental property, which eventually reduces their prices, which eventually reduces new construction, which saves community resources. All while still supporting the underlying economic necessitating the room. Yes, it's quite the stretch, and not the stretch residents like, but fundamentally reducing rental and real estate prices helps society. In reality, there is so much elasticity of demand here that you might simply encourage more frequent travel, as melissam points out, but your enabling that activity without abusing the commons as much as hotels, which helps I guess. It's all a stretch though.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:25 PM on February 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


All this sharing seems mostly like an end-run around taxes and regulation.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:26 PM on February 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


All this sharing seems mostly like an end-run around taxes and regulation.

That is certainly a side effect, but it's not the goal in my experience. My next-door neighbor rents out her condo through AirBnB regularly, and it's driven by a desire to a) fund vacations so she can get the hell out of the city during high-tourist times, like SxSW and the other big festivals and b) keep the condo in use when she's staying with her boyfriend or her other property is vacant. It works better for her than a long-term rental because her living situation is fluid and she doesn't want to be locked out for a year at a time, plus the economics are favorable - she can rent it out for four days in March and pay for four months of the mortgage, because of the way demand works.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:30 PM on February 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Would it really lower real-estate prices? Would a potential buyer not be willing to pay more if he could exploit his purchase to generate a return? I would imagine it would become even more expensive to purchase property with excess capacity.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 1:32 PM on February 9, 2013


I think all this stuff is great. But I also think that, at heart, it's the extension of efficient market economics, not something apart from market economics that inherently puts more emphasis on community or the commons.

This isn't about the commons - it's about creating greater efficiency in the use and exchange of privately held goods (whether privately held by individuals, in peer-to-peer systems, or by a company, in something like zipcar).

The language here is slippery. Sharing is important. When they teach you to "share" in kindergarten, they don't mean "allow other kids to play with your toys in exchange for an hourly fee".
posted by ManInSuit at 1:33 PM on February 9, 2013 [21 favorites]


I like Airbnb, I am glad it exists.

But goddammit, it makes a fucked up rental market (San Francisco), even more fucked up. A sizable percentage of people would rather use AirBNB than deal with the tenant protection laws in the city.

I am a big believe in tenant protection, so this is not a rant about that. It's that there's a difference between renting out your place for a few weeks a year and using it to circumvent legitimate legal applications (Rental, taxes, etc).

Plus it makes it even harder to find a damned apartment.
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:57 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like Airbnb very much (as a guest), but it's not sharing. It is renting. My friend hosts, and it's not sharing for her either. I suppose it's effective because it allows you to avoid taxes and thus have lower costs, but I don't think that is the goal.
posted by jeather at 1:59 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, so I'm familiar with why local economies benefit from dollars being spent locally.

What does that have to do with "sharing" or "the commons"?
I think the author is trying to say:

1. The U.S. economy over the last half century has been driven by the desire/need for your own stuff – e.g., cars, homes.
2. Everyone is broke because, hello, it is 2013.
3. People are using the internet now to sell and buy stuff like short-term housing and share rides.
4. This constitutes a shift from the old model of "everyone gets their own thing" to a model of "rent and use as many shared resources as possible to avoid buying things you can't afford."
posted by deathpanels at 2:06 PM on February 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


All the awesome techno-liberals are going to go nuts over Airbnb once it gets really big ("It reduces rents! It's great for the poor/students/disadvantaged! Down with faceless hotel corporations!") until one day some illegal hostel on the outskirts of NY burns down and a hundred students are killed.

Then it'll be nothing but "OMG! Why don't we have some regulations that purveyors of nightly accommodations must follow in order to do business?!? WHY HASNT ANYONE THOUGHT OF THIS!!?!?!"
posted by Avenger at 2:06 PM on February 9, 2013 [28 favorites]


There are numerous reasons one should not count on AirBnB income, especially when buying property. You should instead ask : Isn't it better for real estate prices if any landlords who become dependent on AirBnB simply defaulted on their mortgage? I donno maybe, but the banks artificially inflate real estate priced by sitting on foreclosure too. It's all so buffered by elasticity and artificial pricing that I doubt AirBnB impacts anything except poor people's ability to travel, TheNewWazoo.

Are you saying San Francisco landlords prefer running ilegal hotels to legal long term rentals, Lord_Pall? Or are you saying they can rent at hotel prices so infrequently that they remain legal while making their monthly rent? In either case, maybe AirBnB needs a wiki so landlords can collaboratively turn their properties into proper hotels.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:07 PM on February 9, 2013


A Warning For AirBnB Hosts Who May Be Breaking The Law
Airbnb’s spokeswoman, Kim Rubey, did not answer either question on the phone and e-mailed a statement several hours later that didn’t really answer them either. I’ve reprinted it in full (and dissected it in detail) on our Bucks blog. The company is “constantly re-evaluating how to do its job better,” the statement said.

Or is it? Many people believe that living on the Web grants them membership in an exalted class to which old laws cannot possibly apply. This sort of arrogance takes your breath away, until you realize just how brilliant a corporate strategy it is. If you stopped to reckon with every 80-year-old zoning law or tried to change the ones that you knew your customers would violate, you’d never even open for business.
Airbnb Report Shows That Users Make Large Contribution To San Francisco Economy
But many Airbnb users don't even realize they might be skirting the law. "[These online short-term rentals have] become so common that people don't even realize it's not legal" Planning Director John Rahaim told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Last year, city officials decided to no longer exempt Airbnb rentals from the 14-15.5 percent hotel tax that funds, among other things, grants to affordable housing projects. Ironically, this policy change was made on the same day as Mayor Ed Lee announced the formation of a "sharing economy" working group aimed at promoting companies like Airbnb.
So What's This "Sharing Economy" Doing to San Francisco's Housing Market?
Mayor Lee is thrilled that Airbnb, the short-term vacation rental site, is doing so well that they set up a new HQ here in San Francisco. Underlying this successful foray into what they call "the sharing economy," however, is a thorny urban issue— the removal of rental units from the pool of housing available to permanent residents. Or the talented people who move here to become "San Franciscan." While a lot of these are rooms in people's current residences, they provide accommodations far less expensive than hotels and pay no occupancy taxes into the city's coffers, and in direct competition with hotels without having to contend with the hotel workers union, Local 2, or the rafts of corporate types who make hotels run.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:11 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Best way to make the local gang boss mad is to devise a scheme that circumvents him getting his piece of the profits.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:25 PM on February 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


I love how airbnb "invented" the sharing economy by catering to a younger demographic in urban locales, while other existing services like HomeAway.com/VRBO and Flipkey predate it by years, have far more selection in non-city vacation spots and charge less to travelers (no booking fees vs ~5% of rate) and owners (flat annual listing subscriptions vs. ~10% of each rental).

It's a great service and all, but there's an entire economy of "hotel alternatives" out there that deserve the hype as well.
posted by ejoey at 2:53 PM on February 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


From the forbes article:

Chesky and his partners are currently trying to raise another $150 million at a valuation of $2.5 billion, a figure that could make their stakes worth about $400 million each, with a shot at becoming the first billionaires of the share economy.

I Love This Country!
posted by bukvich at 2:54 PM on February 9, 2013


Airbnb ain't sharin' nothin' with nobody.
posted by raysmj at 3:01 PM on February 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Would it really lower real-estate prices? Would a potential buyer not be willing to pay more if he could exploit his purchase to generate a return? I would imagine it would become even more expensive to purchase property with excess capacity.

Would you want to live next door to a house that has a lot of strangers coming and going with no predictable patterns? Most people,I'm guessing, probably don't.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:07 PM on February 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Well, you could certainly argue that renting from a private person who lives in Anytown keeps far more of your rental dollars nearby, to be used on Anytown goods and services, then renting a hotel room from a major chain.

Except that hotels employ people in the local community and pay taxes in the local community that fund things like parks, schools and streets. I'm not saying that dollars aren't flowing to conglomerates somewhere, but paying a private citizen who does not declare the income on their taxes, is taking money out of the local government's coffers that a hotel and its staff's spending of their income would contribute.

That is certainly a side effect, but it's not the goal in my experience. My next-door neighbor rents out her condo through AirBnB regularly, and it's driven by a desire to a) fund vacations so she can get the hell out of the city during high-tourist times, like SxSW and the other big festivals and b) keep the condo in use when she's staying with her boyfriend or her other property is vacant.

So what she is doing is generating a side income so that she can live a different lifestyle and not paying tax or following regulatory processes to do so? That's not really a counter to this being "an end-run around taxes and regulation."
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:08 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So what she is doing is generating a side income so that she can live a different lifestyle and not paying tax or following regulatory processes to do so?

Well, as I said, it is, but if Austin gets its shit together and figures out how to regulate this sort of thing, I doubt she'll stop doing it, she'll just pay those taxes. The problem is that the current local laws and processes don't really cover this sort of thing, not that people are deliberately trying to think up ways around them.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:22 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


What about my renting a spare room via AirBnB in Anytown helps the community in Anytown?

This is addressed in the article (I don't have an opinion on whether this is true or not): Because an Airbnb rental tends to be cheaper than a hotel, people stay longer and spent $1,100 in the city, compared with $840 for hotel guests; 14% of their customers said they would not have visited the city at all without Airbnb.
posted by elgilito at 3:28 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am confused by what they're trying to mean by “sharing”. As has been said before, this seems to be a disruptive-annoying endrun around renting laws. This is kinda more what I thought was sharing. The dude in the Guardian article seems more like an MLM preacher than anything cooperative.
posted by scruss at 3:40 PM on February 9, 2013


The problem is that the current local laws and processes don't really cover this sort of thing, not that people are deliberately trying to think up ways around them.

I don't know about Austin, but given some of the previous press around AirBnB that's certainly not true everywhere. In a lot of places the local laws and processes do seem cover this sort of thing, and they say, "No."
posted by adamdschneider at 3:40 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


The problem is that the current local laws and processes don't really cover this sort of thing, not that people are deliberately trying to think up ways around them.

Austin in October 2012 passed a city ordinance covering short-term rentals, including a 12-month license and how to pay hotel occupancy taxes.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:44 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


A priori, we should assume AirBnB landlord do pay income taxes on their AirBnB income, but they don't pay the separate hotel taxes or sales taxes.

In the past, there weren't any landlords who rented out their spare room twice per month, only hotels who rented all the time and casual landlords who sublet their flat when vacationing.

Ideally, all those specialized business taxes should avoid hitting the casual landlords, but some jurisdictions like NYC wanted overly tight laws, probably just because their prosecutors were overworked and/or lazy.

If you accept that people should more fully utilize these resources, then your question becomes : How should the regulations that apply to hotels, taxis, etc. downgrade as one considers infrequent merchants?
posted by jeffburdges at 3:46 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would you want to live next door to a house that has a lot of strangers coming and going with no predictable patterns? Most people,I'm guessing, probably don't.

A couple that I'm very close to use Airbnb as their ad hoc "day job". They own one place in the Catskills which they bought expressly to be a property to rent out, recently got a second place in Moab, Utah for the same purpose, and they also rent out their own place in Brooklyn for that purpose (they head up to the Catskills if someone needs to rent out the Brooklyn place, and vice-versa).

They have not had one single complaint from their neighbors in any of their places. In fact, they've made friends with the residents in all three places, and the Catskills neighbors have even offered to keep an eye on the place and report to my friends if some of the renters look a little shady.

My friends have also made an effort to truly become members of all three communities, which probably is a form of "sharing" - they have joined town committees in the Catskills, and the woman in the couple has expanded her massage therapy practice to both Brooklyn and Catskills because she's there so often. He, in turn, has become part of the arts communities both places. They couldn't have done any of that without the income from Airbnb - it's taken the place of a "day job" for them both, and that makes them happy - which in turn makes them better neighbors.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:47 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


The effect is certainly an end-run around taxes and regulation, but that's not the goal.

I feel that there's a difference between using it as a short-term rental -- which is also illegal, but could probably have laws tweaked to make it legal, as in the example of Austin above -- and using it for long-term rentals only, which is something nicely covered by existing law.

That said, I have run into actual hotel rooms being rented out on Airbnb.
posted by jeather at 3:50 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


My friends have also made an effort to truly become members of all three communities

There could be part of your answer right there. You can see that theirs is not going to be everyone's experience?

Just sayin'.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:59 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Austin in October 2012 passed a city ordinance covering short-term rentals, including a 12-month license and how to pay hotel occupancy taxes.

Oh, cool, I knew that was in the works but somehow missed its actual passing.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:02 PM on February 9, 2013


I'm really disappointed at how little recognition Couchsurfing.org gets within the loving startup-industry press for Airbnb. They were the originals and they truly ran off sharing, no prices involved.

Cynically, I guess hosts like that motel-sized fee to filter out truly poor or weird people. Plus a shinier web interface. Practically, I concede that the fee cuts down on host flakiness and gets you nicer accommodations.

But I'm sad that Airbnb has ripped off one of the true shining innovations of computer networking and slapped a capitalist sheen on top of it. Future-utopian authors probably imagined services like Couchsurfing before the internet even existed. In comparison, Airbnb is yet another way for people who have assets to make money off them.

I see that Couchsurfing is now for-profit and VC funded, so they're probably working to be more like Airbnb...
posted by scose at 4:02 PM on February 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


The language here is slippery. Sharing is important. When they teach you to "share" in kindergarten, they don't mean "allow other kids to play with your toys in exchange for an hourly fee".

The language is what allows these services to be sold to the enraptured tech-pundit crowd as anything other than engines of private wealth creation. No, instead, they're "movements".

I don't think this is done cynically; I think the creators of things like AirBNB and Uber really do believe themselves to be "revolutionaries". What that says about 21st century American capitalism is something else entirely.
posted by downing street memo at 4:06 PM on February 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


The word "share" is appropriate. This really is not an out of the ordinary use of the word "share".
posted by tychotesla at 4:31 PM on February 9, 2013


Why? People who own hotels and motels allow you to use their properties as well, as do traditional B&B owners, so they "share" by the same sense of the word.
posted by raysmj at 4:42 PM on February 9, 2013


Yes, they do. We also share timeshares, bike share programs, apartments, transit, etc. It's all sharing.

The point of the phrase "sharing economy" is to designate a trend arising out of (presumably) new urbanism and the internet. Hotels fail to make that mark because they're weren't invented or developed recently. Zipcar, car2go, recently installed bike share programs, shared work spaces, they all qualify because they're identifiably part of the trend.
posted by tychotesla at 6:15 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So you're saying if you lower taxes and gut regulations, stuff gets cheaper, and people have more money in their pockets to spend on even more things?

I think I've heard this somewhere before . . .
posted by Garm at 6:21 PM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


There was a link in the July 2011 metafilter airbnb thread which is pretty funny. It's about airbnb spam e-mailing craigslist posters.
posted by bukvich at 6:37 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if this may be one of those "black swan" situations: almost all people almost always have a decent experience, but one tenant in a thousand smashes your TV, steals your jewellery, and takes a crap on your rug.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:47 PM on February 9, 2013


A timeshare is a noun. No one uses the term "sharing" to describe the apartment renting biz.
posted by raysmj at 7:12 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


A timeshare is a noun.

"Timeshare" is a noun, yes. The reason you call it a timeshare is because you share the property by chopping up your time with it.

No one uses the term "sharing" to describe the apartment renting biz.

They don't need to. It's implicit to the very idea of apartments.
posted by tychotesla at 8:11 PM on February 9, 2013


All of these articles about governments trying to stop this new economy remind me of Bruce Sterling's excellent short story Maneki Neko. Only that involves benevolent computers controlling a gift-based economy.
We computer cops have names for your kind of people. Digital panarchies. Segmented, polycephalous, integrated influence networks. What about all these free goods and services you’re getting all this time?
Originally published in 1998.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:05 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Would it really lower real-estate prices? Would a potential buyer not be willing to pay more if he could exploit his purchase to generate a return?

I dunno, ask the condo associations that limit rentals in the building?
posted by jacalata at 3:02 AM on February 10, 2013


The implication - or (I'll admit) more likely the inference I'm making - is that the future economy is one in which we assess everything in our lives for its monetization value and constantly market ourselves in order to keep our heads above water.

This is hell. I'd rather live in the Soviet Union.
posted by Grangousier at 3:08 AM on February 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Can you walk me through that implication/inference?

I don't see that as a very accurate way of looking at it at all. The fundamental point here is that the same resources we have now could be used much more efficiently. They could also be treated the same if you like too. I'm pretty damn sure everyone would agree that's a good thing.

I like having a small non-cluttered apartment, owning no car, and having access to enormous numbers of songs. Things like libraries help keep my apartment non-cluttered, things like Zipcar mean the very few times I need a car I can have one, things like spotify mean I don't have to constantly play an illegal game of 'download the musical chairs' to satisfy my broad taste for music. I don't have to be renting out my apartment, my books, my car, my music. But I could if I wanted.

And at the same time if I want to own all my own music, I can. If I want to own tons and tons of books, I can say "screw the library" and buy my own. I still do that occasionally. But I don't need to, which is a huge benefit to me. And I still look around my tiny studio and see corners devoted to items that I don't actually use that often and think to myself "if only I could find other people to share this with, I could also share the cost of it, and we could afford even better things and have more personal space by pooling our resources".
posted by tychotesla at 5:27 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best way to make the local gang boss (state, federal) government mad is to devise a scheme that circumvents him getting his piece of the profits.

FTFY
posted by nowhere man at 6:58 AM on February 10, 2013


The link to the Mother Nature Network in the “… as attempts to monetize living space, possessions and talents …” part of the FPP lists a bunch of services that fall under the banner of collaborative consumption such as Roomates.com, Craigslist, TaskRabbit, Skillshare, Airbnb, eBay, Netflix, and GameFly. It feels really odd to frame all of this in terms of sharing. I think what all of these services have in common is lowering the transaction costs associated with conducting market transactions which in turn leads to more consumption. Out of all the types of services listed, the most interesting are things like Airbnb and TaskRabbit. We’ve had things like classified ads and second hand stores to resell things like furniture, clothes and books for a very long time. Craigslist and eBay just make these types of market transactions much easier to conduct.

Services like AirBnb and TaskRabbit are part of an expansion of capitalism into ever greater parts of our personal lives. (I would add sugar daddy type sites like SeekingArrangement to this as well). Things like our free time and our personal space are now becoming commodities to be easily bought and sold. As we all become small business owners, I think we’ll see greater numbers of people embrace the values of business: lower taxes and less regulation.

As we do more and more things for money, the risk is our intrinsic motivation to do things will be crowded out. I remember once reading about how paying your little kid to do chores around the house would make it less likely for them to want to help out of a sense of duty to keep the common areas of the home clean. I think ultimately the trend represented by the “sharing” economy may end up undermining the very value of sharing.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 9:38 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Guy Who Worked For Money
Nera had spent the last two decades mostly just partying, media-surfing, commenting on other people, and doing pick-up jobs pulled from the services -- enough to keep her ratings out of the gutter. Couriering a package across town, stopping to help fix lunch at a buffet, visiting with some officially at-risk lonelies (work most people hated but Nera often didn't mind, so a big ratings win), getting babysitting-delegated, bit-part acting in flash dramas, gardening, or just hauling crap from place to place. That life was soothing: waking up at one party, spending the day drifting and doing whatever Frankfurt told her to do, whatever her services predicted would help her ratings (and assured others she could handle)... ending up at some other party and going to sleep in some comfortable nook -- with or without some new friend vouched for by hUBBUB.

"Maximize joy," that was the old slogan of '33, the byword of the Free Society. Nera had thought that that was what she was doing.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:51 AM on February 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Things like our free time and our personal space are now becoming commodities to be easily bought and sold

This framing betrays a pretty wealthy perspective. There's nothing new about taking boarders (or cramming many families into tiny spaces) and sacrificing leisure for paying work. That's what happens when you're broke or poor. The economy is bad and people who previously were sheltered from that by secure jobs with living wages and regular time off are finding that they need to hustle. If anything I hope it leads to more widespread support for things like unions and living wages and tenant protections and the social safety net, from people who no longer think that they are above needing them.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:22 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Salamandrous: There's nothing new about taking boarders (or cramming many families into tiny spaces) and sacrificing leisure for paying work. That's what happens when you're broke or poor. The economy is bad and people who previously were sheltered from that by secure jobs with living wages and regular time off are finding that they need to hustle.

This is true. I think what really rankles – or at least what rankles me – is that it's being dressed up in a load of Forbes-ian, zeitgeist-surfin' creatively destructive guff and presented as an amazing new paradigm, rather than being viewed as a profoundly depressing and infuriating comment on just how fucked anyone not born with a silver spoon in their mouth really is. It's presented as if people should be grateful to not have a full time job, with benefits, a pension, and (in the US) health insurance, because if they had all that then, why, they wouldn't have any real incentive to get in on the ground floor of The New Share Economy™ and take advantage of all the opportunity they have to hand over their own homes to other people for a few dollars a night!
posted by Len at 12:32 PM on February 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Alternatively, you could see it as something people should be doing anyway to cause less environmental waste (both in terms of nature and infrastructure). I'm sure this can be used for many evil purposes, but it's also necessary to progress towards many good things.

I mean, income inequality is something we need to address regardless of whether we progress on this front. God help us all if what makes us understand that there's unacceptable inequality is when we say "curses, it might make things more efficient to share the use of things!"

I don't see this "movement" as depressing. I see not moving further in this direction as depressing. I want more of this kind of thing, thank you.
posted by tychotesla at 1:19 PM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


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