Shareconomy – What it really means

Last Monday I have been to the opening ceremony of CeBIT in Hanover. The motto of this year is “shareconomy” and it was referred to in the opening speech (a lot).

Around 5,000 people have been VIP

Around 5,000 people have been VIP :-)

Around 5,000 people have been on the event and traditionally the Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded the event with the official opening. All of the speakers have referred to the “shareconomy” claim, which obviously is made up by “share” and “economy”.

Chancellor Angela Merkel getting ready for her speech

Chancellor Angela Merkel getting ready for her speech

It covers various aspects of online services, some with deep roots into the tangible part of life like sharing a car or a bike. The speakers all referred to it as a paradigm shift in the IT business, yet I had the feeling only a few understood the scale and real meaning of what they are really talking about.

The term, like the past “Web 2.0”, “Cloud” or “Community” is imprecise enough to be used by various companies to give you a lot of cool sounding marketing copy. From my point of view: it is too imprecise! If it comes to sharing, we are now talking:

Online perspective

  • File sharing (mostly evil, in the eyes of publishers)
  • Cloud hosting (where you also may share your files from, aka Dropbox)
  • Social networks (where you share your latest meaningless photo) and rating sites
  • Shared hosting (yeah, that is around since 1994)
  • Big Data (another hyped buzzword, which means your personal data, usage behavior or text snippets are cross-referenced and shared with anything else to sell you more)

Offline perspective

  • Car and bike sharing services
  • Apartments and houses (airbnb is the example)
  • Work spaces (that is also called coworking)
  • Anything else tangible (like WhyOwn.it)

and that also puts a lot of different other mixes into that bucket. The CeBIT page for the keynote describes it nicely and the journalists of Deutsche Welle put a nice article in English up:

Knowledge is the only resource that multiplies 
when it is shared, said Porschmann, "That's the 
core of what we are seeing today on social 
networks - in the age of Twitter and Facebook." 
People are sharing knowledge, contacts and experiences.

I believe that is the key behind the whole hype around the word and it is just nothing new.

Egypts shared their point of view on stone walls a few thousand years ago. Knowledge, contacts and experiences can be shared FASTER than ever before, but there is NO QUALITY rating system involved, no structural evaluation system.

From where I stand, I do not see a “societal shift” in our society to revolutionize the way we tick with a deep need to share tangible stuff. I have borrowed tools from my neighbors for years – thanks, folks :-).

For us coders is just one aspect of interest: APIs – and we use those also for ages now. As long as these interfaces to share data are complicated, constantly evolving and therefor a moving target: the whole hype around the “shareconomy” will calm down like it did with airbnb after that article.

“Shareconomy” means nothing, really. We need finer descriptions for the stuff we do, develop and use. Only with fine and clear descriptive words can we make the people around us understand what we do, let me share this with you.

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