“Her research has demonstrated that even in capitalist societies, if simple rules are applied, a self-organized commons can work. Individuals will cooperate to act in the common good (Botsman and Rogers, 2010 p. xxii.)” This passage refers to research conducted by Elinor Ostrom, a Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences. Ostrom found that, “Economics is not really fundamentally about markets, but about resource allocation and distribution problems (Botsman and Rogers, 2010, p. xxi). ” Botsman and Rogers (2010) refer to Ostrom’s research in the introduction of their book, What’s Mine Is Yours. Botsman and Rogers (2010) use the results of Ostrom’s research to lay the foundation for understanding collaborative consumption. According to Botsman and Rogers (2010) collaborative consumption is the idea that the twenty-first century will be defined by the creation of communities through sharing and access. Unlike the twentieth century that is believed to be defined by hyper-consumption.
But will collaborative consumption really define the twenty-first century. Fisher (2008) wrote a book titled, Rock, Paper, Scissors. Fisher’s (2008) book looked to understand the foundations of, “Game Theory in Everyday Life.” Fisher explores Game Theory through many examples, including the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma and why society falls victim to these games or social dilemmas. He then goes onto look at possible ways of fixing the system, which would result in what Botsman and Rogers see as a collaborative society.
The issue is that of trust. For a society to collaborate we must trust one and other. Botsman and Rogers (2010 p. xiv) view, “Technology (as) reinventing old forms of trust.” Has not technology also damaged our trust in one and other? Other than the fact that our information as well as our identity can be sold, what other violations of trust has been created due to technology? We are now able to use technology to find out if someone has lied to us through Internet searches. The Internet through websites such as Wikipedia can also lie to us because ultimately technology is a product of humans. The question then is who or what do we trust? It seems that technology has not simplified trust but rather expanded the possibilities of lies and false truths.
Fisher (2008) looks to understand the challenges of cooperation that we face and strategies that can be used to solve them. In his research he has come up with three different strategies. The first strategy is, Changing our Attitudes, Fisher (2008) believes that if we change our attitudes to believe that cheating is immoral, we would solve our social dilemma of cheating and mistrust. However he later explains that this strategy is only possible if every person changes their behaviors and believes in cooperation, which is unlikely.
Fisher’s second strategy believes in a Benevolent Authority to enforce cooperation. This was a strategy adopted by Plato, that the wise philosophers would be the advisors to kings, ensuring cooperation and fair play. But in this strategy we find that those on top will not be playing by the same rules as those below them. It is this hierarchical structure that diminishes the idea of fair play. Fisher (2008) refers to the story of King Solomon. Fisher (2008, p. 26) writes, “Wise he might have been (King Solomon), and benevolent, but he could also afford to be benevolent because he had annexed most of his countries wealth for himself.” In the case of King Solomon we find that ultimately he did not distance himself from competition, but rather he oversaw competition. It was in his control of competition that he cheated and unequally distributed resources to himself.
It seems that the first two strategies provided by Fisher, although theoretically plausible solutions, are impractical because of the nature of competition. His third strategy was Self-Enforcing Strategies. The assumption here is that as a society people could create strategies so that there is no incentive to cheat. This is most likely the most realistic strategy provided by Fisher. Here we find that this strategy works In any case provide that it falls within the Nash Equilibrium. Self-Enforcing Strategy builds a foundation of trust as long as each party can be compensated fairly. The exception to this strategy is that if there is a situation were there is a temptation for one party to cheat, then cooperative agreement is broken.
Botsman and Rogers (2010) seem to address these same underlying fears about actually being a collaborative society. The fears of the commons, also known as tragedy of the commons, where everyone is allocated a percentage of the commons, but a few individual feel that if they take a little more no one will notice. It is true that if only a few take a little extra it may be harmless, but what if everyone takes a little extra.
Botsman and Rogers (2010) believe that the rise of collaborative consumption is not a byproduct of the 2008 global financial crisis. Rather it is a groundswell movement to collaborate and change the way we consume. Even though, it seems that all of the example they list are profitable businesses. In one passage Botsman and Rogers (2010) write, “As the Economist noted, individuals in Collaborative Consumption are becoming “microentrepreneurs.” This passage illustrates that collaborative consumption has its roots in economics. Although many of the business stories seem altruistic, in fact they are still looking to make a profit, as opposed to being a non-profit. For the consumers the story is they are looking for a better value. This value could be a result of the economic times. Although Botsman and Rogers feel that people are becoming more thrifty, it could also be that they place values elsewhere.
The foundations of collaborative consumption will be a result of economics and trust. At what point is a value worth the risk of trusting a stranger. Is this point, the point of collaborative consumption?
Botsman, R & Rogers, R. (2010) What’s Mine Is Yours. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Fischer, L. (2008) Rock, Paper, Scissors. New York, NY: Basic Books.
I found this weeks readings very interesting and relevant. I find the topic of privacy and freedom of great concern, especially today. On any given day, it seems that I either hear or read something about privacy. First there was the concern about what information people were making available on their Facebook pages. More recently I have read a lot about location based services and crimes being committed as a result. It seems that today there is a lot of discussion about technology and privacy.
Earlier this week I read an article that mentioned The Technology Society a book by Jacques Ellul, a sociologist and philosopher. The article was about what Ellul saw as a technology society. Basically a society in which technology is used as the answer for everything. Ellul discusses the effects of technology on social, economic, and political usage.
The article showed how those that do not understand technology will become powerless to it. This will create a shift in which the technicians, those who understand technology, will become the ones with power. In Wendy Chun’s publication Control and Freedom, she mentions the paranoia people face when it comes to information on the Internet. Chun writes about control-freedom and the ascribed power of a control system. A system in which failures are erased and power is given to the system creating paranoia.
This creates a system in which those with power look to the experts for answers. They look to those who understand the system to guide them or exploit them. This seems to me oddly familiar to the recent technology improvement the TSA has been using. The TSA has been implementing policies, from what I have read, have not been authorized by Congress. However because in this case the TSA are the technicians, Congress has been placed in the role of the powerless.
The larger question is who will our elected officials follow? Will they side with the public whom elected them or the technicians?
In Digital Media and Democracy, Boler explores press and the power that they have over our understanding. The press controls not what they deem to be newsworthy, but rather what they want to report. Boler illustrates examples of news organizations and their somewhat biased points of view, especially when it comes to politics. You have both right and left winged press that will take the same story, then twist and edit it to fit the point of view that they want. A quote from the article by Walter Benjamin, “It is hardly possible to write a history of information separately from a history of the corruption of the press.”
The article explains that the media is consolidated and controlled by a select few corporations. And that these corporations are controlled by what Fernandes views as, “Elite white hands” that do not account for the huge diversified majority.
Recently hosts of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report took action against the consolidated media. In an announcement on air, the two hosts said that they would be holding a Rally to Restore Sanity and or Fear. Not giving much information or a description about what exactly they meant. This lead to a flux of postings on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. With the popularity of the topic growing the mainstream news began to cover the story.
All reports seemed to point to the rally as a political tactic. Since the rally was to be held around the time of the midterm elections. Just as Tim Russet reported about Bush’s proposed invasion without having all of the details, the press also reported about the rally without having all of the details. It was only during the rally that the press realized the rally was not about the midterm elections, but rather it was about them. Stewart took the stage and talked about the broken system the press has created. He spoke of how the press has the power to control our points of view through amplifying certain points and thus deafening the audience to other topics.
In his speech Stewart talked about sanity as being something we instinctively know. By restoring sanity we are taking control back from the press. Boler mentions in her article that the Internet has given the public the power to check facts. There is a shift from being a consumer to also being a producer. Boler notes that increased access, production, and distribution online has created a more active community offline, especially when it comes to political activity.
Had it not been for the Internet and people sharing the story of the rally, it may never have been as large as it was. One online news source reported that the people have spoken, making “Restoring Truthiness Rally” the number one search on Google. St. Paul news reported, “The event gave a voice to those who usually don’t speak.”
During the Rally Stewart made a point in saying, “The [Press] did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder.” In an interview with Amy Goodman she said, “Media is more powerful than any bomb.” If this is the case what will a user-generated press hold in store for the future? Boler mentions that there are tactics and secrets of the journalist trade. If everyone is able to report anything will this help solve our problems or make them worse?
Something to think about, in disaster studies it has been found that when given information people will react rationally to what they have heard. If they have been misinformed, they will react rationally to the misinformation.
Earlier today I attended Sonicon and as the name suggests it is a convention about SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog. At the event I saw and heard what some people might consider disturbing things. Something that stuck out to me was the question and answers session with the voice actor for the newest addition to the Sonic series.
During the session a child no older than eight asked the voice actor what he thought about websites using his characters. He answered that he saw it as a form of flatter from his fans. He went on to say that his point of view may differ from those of SEGAs, which he could not make a statement about. I found this odd that he responded to a child about what SEGA may or may not deem appropriate. It got me to thinking whether he was actually addressing the child or the child’s parents.
After the first child’s question, the next question came from a young girl who said she was an aspiring artist and drew a picture for him. She asked him if it would be alright for her to use the character in a web comic that she was drawing. He responded without actually answering her question, and instead talked about how great the drawing was that she drew for him.
I found this question and answer session interesting because it made me think of Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins. In his book, Jenkins writes, “Today’s teens… aren’t the only ones who are confused about where to draw the lines here; media companies are giving out profoundly mixed signals.” It seems that Jenkins is writing about exactly what happened at the questions and answer session. The voice actor did not specifically give any details about what was considered emulation and imitation, rather he walked around the questions.
Besides his answers, something that really stuck out to me was that children were the ones asking these questions. These were definitely not questions I would have thought to ask him, when I was their age. In fact, I probably would not have thought to ask these questions today. When I was younger I did not think anything of drawing a cartoon character that I saw on TV. Although I also did not have the access to the internet to put my pictures out in front of the world.
It seems that with technology kids may be growing up too fast. Instead of going out having fun and not having a care in the world, they are dealing with real adult issues. The video RIP addressed this when they interviewed a pastor from McKinney, TX who received a notice that he had illegally downloaded some music and would be prosecuted. When he replied back saying that other people use his computer such as his children, the response was that he could file paperwork to have his children prosecuted instead.
It makes me wonder what the future holds when we have kids growing up, that have the added stress of an adult.