(c) Max Braun Flickr

Why collaboration?

Because it advances to the basic prerequisite of innovation ecologies

At first sight, sharing doesn’t seem to be the thing to do in times of an economic crisis, resource shortage, the shortened half life of knowledge, and the obscurity regarding the next trend. After all – who likes to share if he’s worried about how to make up for the deficit?


The current crisis in Europe causes us to reconsider dictums that have become familiar and social activities. Especially when profit maximisation becomes questionable, exclusiveness of knowledge and information doesn’t provide us with a competitive advantage, when the complexity of ecological and social problems cannot be solved by selective and technocratic expert solutions any more, collaboration makes sense.

Pop culture: a demonstration of sharing

Be it with regard to a flat, the place of work, expertise, or car – almost all areas of life are affected by the trend to share. These concrete practical forms, not only pursued by reform-oriented hipsters, have little to do with neo-romantic visions. They are practical exit options for the time after the shady era of neo-liberalism. The culture techniques of sharing include vast areas of goods, spaces, processes, (work) technologies, and infrastructures. They update and transform old conceptions of eternal possession, everlasting technologies, and upscale investments in places, equipment, and other resources important for work processes. As a cultural technique of Pop, sharing of musical, written, and verbal artefacts is genuinely responsible for a big part of our current culture. In hindsight, such social innovations, these sharing and swapping practices and the reinvention of culture coming with them are always reactions to global crises, too. As reaction to the modernity of the years between 1910 and 1930, reform movements came up, starting with nature-loving hiking groups to artistic and creative experimental groups beyond the confusing metropolis. In the 60s and 70s, community movement against ecological and political crises were built which were the argumentative base for the ecology movement of the 80s.


Monetarily, sharing makes sense – but the traditional cadres haven’t understood that yet

These days, it is mostly a younger generation coming from a milieu which is in close contact with technology and creativity trying to establish this feasibility claim: sharing does not only cater to the good and beautiful, it is honourable and morally uplifting – it also makes sense financially, offers an additional social benefit, and is also en vogue


And while the old cadres of the traditional functional systems banking, politics, and wholesale bargain for tax rates, amortisations, and credit bailout funds, a growing „sharing community“  hast started to demonstrate an alternative model to the preservers of social achievements.


My car is your car is our car

These innovative forms of collaboration are not just happening in the well-known fields of ecology, nutrition, software development, or even the automobile sector. At Local Motors in Detroit, a virtual group works on car studies which turn into real cars by crowdfunding. When developing the prototype of sustainable cars, the group collaborates, sharing the knowledge while evaluating other ideas. At Tamyca, the users directly share the cars in their neighbourhood. Altogether, the group of people who prefer sharing a car to owning it, increases, do now, even BMW and Daimler (with their car2go and drivenow offers) opt not only for a purchase of their car models, but also for a flexible lease.

Collaboration advances to the basic prerequisite of innovation ecologies. Sharing as an expression of a self-determined social practice is not threatening any acquired knowledge, goods, or infrastructures, it optimises them and creates additional social benefits among people with similar goals and attitudes. These communities are looking for an alternative form of knowledge production  - in relatively non-ideological and practical ways. So, the quest for solutions regarding the current crisis is under way. The only question left is: why do we still stick to our old ways?


photo (Teaser): Max Braun (Flickr)

photo (in Text 1): mikecogh (Flickr)
photo (im Text 2):  Daniel Seiffert, Betahaus
Authors: Prof. Dr. Bastian Lange and Dipl.-Soz. Malte Bergmann (www.Multiplicities.de Berlin)
Sun, 04.03.2012 0

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