CTRP484 Beyond the Sharing Economy

avatar Mark Fonseca Rendeiro Moderator Amazon Wishlist Icon

The topic is unfortuantely overly discussed in an almost routine way in our world today: the sharing economy, the good that it does, who is in it, and who is against it. Yet even the definition of what is the sharing economy is pretty fuzzy. On today’s podcast the subject is the sharing economy and growth, what happens when these often interesting and beneficial services grow into global empires? Where does the human and society fit into this equation that is so focused on earning income by tapping into untapped resources in every day life?

Talk by Yochai Benkler “Challenges of the Sharing Economy” for the World Economic Forum

Comments by Bahairavi Desai on the Laura Flanders Show “Uber, Wal-mart on Wheels?”

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Today’s Commemoration, Tomorrow’s History

In an effort to save money and increase productivity, Portugal is getting rid of some holidays that people don’t really celebrate anymore.  Among the obsolete days of non-work, the day the nation dumped the monarchy and became a republic, October 5th, 1910.  More than 100 years since that significant moment in history, no one alive remembers it, and few are the voices that think its worth hanging on to as a holiday.

Here in the Netherlands, this past Friday was Remembrance day, which includes the 2 minutes of silence which takes place every May the 4th in memoriam of all the victims of WWII (though more recently it has been expanded to include victims of all military conflicts, its still more famous for WWII victims).  A friend’s grandfather, who lived through the occupation of the country and the war that caused so much pain and destruction, finds the 2 minutes of silence un-necessary – after all, he lived through it. But WWII is much more recent and much more significant in the lives of present day people in the Netherlands that the establishment of the republic is for today’s Portuguese. The reasons probably seem obvious.

But it occurs to me that 100 years from now, WWII remembrance day may also get put aside for economic or social purposes.  At some point enough time passes that these significant moments that some lived through and others know all-to-well from stories and history books, even these seemingly vital rituals will not be seen the same way.  This is not to say it is a good or bad development, these moments in history and the holidays dedicated to them, can fade over time.  It is, if anything, just an odd characteristic of us as a species.  We may record history, but over time, to some degree, it becomes natural to forget.

Imagine that. The era will come where WWII is referred to in the same far-off spirit as today we look at the war of 1812 or the wars during Roman times. September 11th will no longer be remembered as it is today, nothing special will take place at the sight of the World Trade Center, life – like time – just keep moving along.

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They Felt Ignored

Timbuktu photo by Emilio Labrador / flickr

Over the past weeks the stories have trickled in of events unfolding in Mali. In a rush to fill a knowledge void, many of us do quick research using sources from the past and present regarding this West African nation which in the 1300’s was an empire that controlled the very lucrative precious resource trade in that region. As a standard liberal democracy of today, it was thought of as a good example of a nation. But just as we so often hear from around the world over the past decade, a coup emerges kicking out the president, and revealing that in fact – things are not ok in this ancient land. A chain-reaction of events kicks off, with not only a military group taking over the presidency, but a declaration of independence by an ethnic group in the north, which is of course followed by plentiful speculation about ties to terrorist organization and other possible horror stories.

The frequently repeated line in the press, when attempting to explain the frustration in the country and the reasons the north broke away- they felt ignored by the central government. Others, who support the coup, felt ignored as the government worked hard to appease international funding schemes and please foreign investors (particularly banks). Whether any of these reports are accurate or not, when it comes to describing how people feel in different parts of Mali – it is a familiar phrase – they felt ignored.

How often, throughout the world, despite all the communication and representation that is possible, do people say these same words when describing government. These systems are put in place, often by people who are long gone, and among their descendants – there are those who feel ignored or wronged somehow, by the very group that is supposed to address them. Some will point to economics. Some will point to regional conflicts and trauma. Then there’s religion and ethnicity. The list goes on and on when it comes to why. In a time where there is so much evidence of what we have in common across borders; needs, concerns, goals, maybe even values – we still manage to have groups who feel so ignored they would take up arms, put up borders, and make a new country despite all the hardships that may follow that decision.  How did we do that, as a species, as a planet, how did this almost conspiratorial scenario take shape over and over again in various forms across the world? We seem to lose, rather than gain, the ability to live together in the same area, country, or region, regardless of differences.

While research about the planet and our history can and does reveal so many commonalities between people, people have created a reality that manages to divide us up in ever increasing ways. As a once famous fictitious kid on a Baltimore street corner once stated, “World going one way, people another.”

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2 Minute Judgement

With the population of the world being as big as it is, I realize evaluating people for jobs, prizes, relationships, you-name-it; there is less time to spend on each person.

That said, I still hate it. A 1 page letter of motivation. A 2 minute audio sample. A 3 minute conversation over a drink at some party. Each of these is supposed to give someone an accurate idea of who I am, and then a judgment is to made based on that.

FUCK THAT.

The world is going to have to figure something else out, because humans are simply more complicated then these little allotted samples.

Recently my wonderful friends over at Radio Open Source, aka Public Radio in Boston, urged me to enter into the Public Radio Talent Search…. so I submitted my audio for judgment in a contest who’s winner gets money, and some other lovely support from the NPR world.

As a struggling journalist, obviously I could use such things. Plus I’m honored that they thought of me, so I entered. I grabbed a random 2 minutes from the NEw Orleans series, and submitted it. (click the link if you feel like voting) And even as I did it, I was thinking “2 minutes… thats it?” Two minutes does not explain what I do and why it matters. To be judged in 2 minutes, after almost 3 years of podcasting, 200 shows, 6 years of blogging, and untold experiences and studies… is to me.. preposterous.

But this is how the world works, so often. Universities and their methods for judging potential students. Employers and their demand for that “CV”, which of course they never read beyond the first page. So your life’s worth is then evaluated based on a piece of paper, or a few pieces of paper, maybe some testimony from 2 people. The horror.

Me in NEw Jersey

Actually it reminds me of speed dating. Thats right, I’m a curious person and an amateur anthropologist, so I went to a speed dating debauchery not too long ago. And again, my first thought from the moment I arrived: I will not try and explain myself in 3 minutes. I am complex in what might be a very good way, but that complexity cannot and should not, be squashed into 3 minutes because the world doesn’t have time to listen.

So public radio, you’ve got my 2 minutes. While it is true that this struggling journalist could use your help, I don’t need you to tell me my work is worth something, and I certainly don’t need you in order to continue in this well established podcast that already has a wonderful relationship with a large group of people scattered throughout the world.

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