Blog 5

Trust and the Sharing Economy

After listening to the KCRW podcast I found myself very intrigued by the whole concept of shared economy and collaborative consumption and the different ideas that came with it. Although it seems as though these are new concepts, I find myself agreeing with the people on the podcast that both of these ideas have existed for a while now and aren’t as new as we think they are.

I believe that the one thing that has been so crucial to both sharing economy is the vast advancements in technology over the past few decades. With just the click of a button people can now find things that never seemed possible back then. With the increase in technology, product and service availability has skyrocketed. Couchsurfing and the idea of the zip car are just two examples. By just surfing the web, one can find a place to stay at another’s house, and also a place to rent a car so easily. The availability of products and services available out on the web today exceeds anything of that of the past. My question is though, is this an ingenious idea, or do the risks outweigh the benefits?

While both couchsurfing and the zipcar do seem like good ideas in theory, there are negatives and risks that come along with them as well. In terms of sharing economy, I am not quite sure how I feel about the whole idea of “peer to peer” sharing. Couchsurfing seems great and good way to help people that need a place to stay, but what risk does one take when doing that? Not knowing the person beforehand or who you are staying with seems extremely risky. There are insane people out in the world, and truthfully you don’t know who you are staying with or who’s staying with you or what can happen to you if you offer up your home like that.  While all of this increased technology seems great, we must also now be wary and aware of the risks that come with it.

I believe trust becomes a major factor with the idea of sharing economy. Not knowing what you are receiving can be a very dangerous thing. It can lead to things like fraud or even death if its someone dangerous staying at someone’s home through couchsurfing. Its an ancient concept that trust must be earned, but it seems like nowadays with the Internet and the idea of sharing economy, that the idea of trust is thrown around a lot more and not taken as serious, and that’s what leads to many problems.

3 thoughts on “Trust and the Sharing Economy

  1. I agree with the points you make about technology, safety and trust. I also believe that technology is what is fostering rising popularity and attention on shared economy businesses. It provides people easier access to these things such as rentable bikes and houses. I also agree with what you say about sharing economies being tricky though, because with consumer businesses you make a deal or agreement when you rent a car from a rental company or buy a house and there are serious legal consequences if you violate your end of the deal. I think that there are bad people that may commit crimes and find loopholes to get away with illegal activity in shared economy businesses because it is easier. That of course is where trust comes in, but as you say, in our modern day of age how much weight does trust really hold?

    • I totally agree with you Carly. I do believe that technology has improved our society and helped us get to where we are today and will propel us into the future as well in terms of advancements, business etc. I also do agree that the idea of renting cars and bikes and maybe other items on a smaller scale is a good and beneficial thing, but I am still personally a little skeptical about the idea of sharing a home. Obviously there will always be people that just try and get ahead and do crazy things like finding loop holes to benefit themselves in the short run, and so from that I believe the issue of trust stems. I also believe with how we have seen so many terrible things happen in society lately its scary to see things like homes that people feel is there safe haven being opened up to complete strangers not knowing what can happen. On a smaller scale with the idea of bikes etc, I do believe sharing economy can be a very good thing and I’m all for it.

  2. I agree that having strangers stay in your home is an extreme form of sharing. It will always be a risk to safety. However, I think the sharing economy can be scaled down to more basic things, such as carpooling and renting infrequently used household items. Technology does make it easier to ensure a safe business transaction, but all commerce comes with a slight risk.

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