The “sharing economy” describes a type of business built on the sharing of resources – allowing customers to access goods when needed. Think AirBnb or Zipcar. While sharing goods has always been a common practice among friends, family and neighbors, in recent years, the concept of sharing has moved from a community practice into a profitable business model. This increasing legitimacy is reflected in the more polished terms used to describe the phenomenon like peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, collaborative consumption or the access economy.
Some advocates wax philosophical that this emerging sharing economy has come about because society has collectively arrived at a more altruistic place in our evolution: We don’t all need to own drills or KitchenAid mixers – since most owners only get a few minutes of use out of them a year. Others simply attribute it to Clinton’s old adage, “it’s the economy, stupid,” with trying financial times forcing us to reevaluate the way we interact with one another and with the resources we have at hand. Whether it is a monetary or social paradigm shift, Time considers the access economy to be one of “10 Ideas That Will Change the World.” We agree.