The Shareable Society: new alternatives for a resource based economy

Posted on October 3, 2011 by


In a lecture given recently on TED talks, Alex Steffen points how our future practice of cities can be based on “sharing”. Due to the fact that we don’t need to own personal devices which we use temporarily or punctually, Alex Steffen proposes to envision a new future in which properties can be shared through a community to make the most of the objects we own. And his thesis could be extended to space experiments.

Many different examples are appearing in the internet communities as successful examples of what can be shared. From the material to the immaterial, the following list tends to show how it is possible to envision a better future, or a better present.


1_ SHARE SOME SUGAR: sharing objects, the neighbor scale

SHARE SOME SUGAR helps you find someone in your neighborhood or group of friends who is willing to lend or rent you something that you need.

Their slogan? WHY BUY WHEN YOU CAN BORROW FROM A NEIGHBOR? A very basic idea but a really efficient one.

2_ THE PUBLIC SCHOOL: sharing knowledge 

THE PUBLIC SCHOOL is a school with no curriculum. At the moment, it operates as follows: first, classes are proposed by the public (I want to learn this or I want to teach this); then, people have the opportunity to sign up for the classes (I also want to learn that); finally, when enough people have expressed interest, the school finds a teacher and offers the class to those who signed up.

The PUBLIC SCHOOL is running now in various cities and the interest of the population for it is still growing. You can find them in Berlin, Brussels, Durham, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, San Juan, Helsinki.


3_ COUCHSURFING: sharing a place to stay

COUCHSURFING is a worldwide community offering an alternative to hotels for travelers. By proposing to host travelers or by traveling to someone else’s place, the traveling experience is enhanced to not only a spacial experiment through a new location but a cultural one, sharing life experiences and sometimes, developing new friendships and relations around the globe.


4_TIME/BANK: sharing skills and time

Time/Bank at e-flux is modeled on existing time banks. Every Time/Bank transaction will allow individuals to request, offer, and pay for services in “Hour Notes.” When a task is performed, the credit hours earned may be saved and used at a later date, given to another person, or contributed towards developing larger communal projects. For example, if you happen to be in Beijing or Hamburg and need someone to help you shop for materials or translate a press release, you would be able to draw on resources from Time/Bank without exchanging any money.


Welcome in the Shareable present of cities!



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