"Sharing economy" seemed like it could become a buzzword during the rapid rise of Zipcar. We liberals especially liked it. During the counterculture we had used the term "cooperative" and this seemed aligned with more sophisticated times. Also, we assumed that society had moved beyond associating non-ownership or a fluid sense of private property with communism.
Things kept looking better and better for the sharing economy when Zipcar did well commercially. It was a media darling. But now the linguistic love affair with the term has cooled. That should have its business interests such as those associated with Airbnb quite concerned. In Airbnb's most lucrative market - Manhattan - it is being assailed by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, boards overseeing real estate and residents of buidings in which there are short-term rentals. I am not taking bets on who will win this one.
Interestingly, in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Andy Kessler devoted a lot of the prime space to explaining what the sharing economy is and is not. He interviewed Airbnb founder Brain Chesky. Here is that piece (sub. req.)
This could be the beginning of a re-start for the sharing economy. After the initial euphoria there came commentary about how not everyone is enjoying sharing dinner time with each other, communal style. Collectivism v. individualism seemed to be how the concept was being framed.
Chesky would be shrewd to have a contest requesting a more appropriate term to capture his vision for how to consume in the 21t century. The prize could be bunking two nights in Manhattan, two in Chicago and two in San Francisco.
Here in over-50 "affordable housing" (that also needs re-naming), the lobby on each of the 17 floors of Buildings A through E functions as "free stores." That's also a counterculture term.
In the lobby, we leave what we don't need and take what we do need. It works just fine, without any managers of any kind.