Posted by: commonsresource | June 8, 2010

Commons Sourcing in a World of Stuff

Earlier this week, Glyn Moody had  another great post on his Open blog entitled Why Sharing Will Be Big Business. In his post, Glyn highlights the Chegg text book sharing business which is well described as“Netflix for textbooks”.  Glyn quotes extensively from following TechCrunch blog post by Steven Carpenter entitled TC Teardown: Chegg Is A Money Machine which provides a detailed and insightful analysis of the Chegg business.

While both posts are well worth reading, I want to focus on Glyn’s thesis that Chegg represents ” a new kind of sharing where people spread the cost of rivalrous goods.” Earlier in his post he makes a useful distinction between”non-rivalrous goods like software or music…[of which] copies can be made for almost zero cost, allowing everyone to share a digital resource” and “analogue *rivalrous* goods – the traditional kind of stuff we are most used to in everyday life”.

Like Glyn, I have mostly written about “non-rivalrous goods” in the information realm. In fact, my current concept of “commons sourcing” is based on the notion of sharing information based resources. I now realize that I need to revisit that definition since commons sourcing (or commons sharing) can certainly be extended to the physical realm of “stuff”.  While I agree with Glyn that this form of sharing “is harder to arrange, since you need someone to lend something to another party, which requires organisation in the physical world”, that there are plenty of emerging and existing models. I note, by way of example, the increasingly common bicycle sharing and car sharing programs such as Vélib and Vrtucar and the Shareable post by Neal Gorenflo (courtesy of Glyn’s tweet) from yesterday entitled California’s P2P Carsharing Bill Passes Assembly 63-0.

As Glyn concludes “However you look at it, though, it is going to be big.” Thanks, Glyn, for your insights and I promise to work stuff into my commons sourcing definition very soon.


  1. Thanks for the kind words – now let’s spread the meme….

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