Humans are not special because of their big brains. That’s not the reason we can build rocket ships–no individual can. We have rockets because 10,000 individuals cooperate in producing the information.
– Anthropologist Kim Hill, Arizona State University
The Earth is a Village.
Since the Neolithic age, humanity has been coming together to create societies where trade, construction, art and services frequently mixed to form new solutions that move our society forward.
In the last century, humanity reached a point in its technological progress that has distanced the individual from the rest of society and caused a rift to form between people. This rift has removed opportunities for the collaborative behaviour that has allowed humanity to leap forward culturally and technologically for thousands of years.
In retaliation to this, we have created multi-user technologies like social media, crowdsourcing and filesharing to allow individuals to once again pool their resources to create, collaborate and augment the individual’s skillset. The difference today is that technology has allowed individuals separated by thousands of miles to collectively change the world.
There are six emerging trends in the collaborative economy today, and they can be summarised with the following examples:
- Peer Travel Solutions (airbnb),
- Cloud Data and Filesharing (OneDrive and Dropbox)
- Crowd Funding and/or Sourcing (Kickstarter)
- Ride Sharing (Uber),
- Peer-to-Peer lending (LendingClubin the US and Zopa in the UK),
- Co-working Spaces (The Hub)
Each of these technologies has been designed to satisfy a singular need: efficiency. Our understanding of the world and its limited resources, coupled with the limited amount of time each individual has to affect the world has led us to collectively pursue one goal: create and achieve as much as we can with the minimal amount of resources and time. Today we Leverage on another individual’s strengths for mutual benefit, while reducing the need for obstructive processes and policies, this movement has given rise to collaborative technologies.
Are we rediscovering our Neolithic roots? Or are we simply applying an inherent universal law to the environment we’ve created: that a unified, shared solution is greater than the sum of its parts?
Solutions that permeated our day to day activities and blended the human condition with technology created something that allowed humanity to make the leap that brought us out of the cave to where we are today.
The same principles will cause humanity to make the next leap forward at an even greater pace. The rise of the collaborative economy has begun, with a clear focus on reducing waste, cutting out the middleman and making our lives in a digital world a little more organic.
“The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all.” – Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator, 1940