It seems that I can’t go a day without hearing another startup or app help me solve every minor inconvenience I might encounter — an app to avoid traffic or to remember birthdays. These innovations are not bad, but when we face crises like climate change and inequity in education, we need to think critically about where we focus the efforts of our creativity.
Lisa Gansky, Robin Chase, and Seth Godin came together in an incredible SMW session to discuss the sharing economy and the ways that value is created through connecting people with their neighbors.
Robin and Lisa both introduced the talk by sharing some statistics about the pace at which the sharing economy moves. In just a few short years, the number of rooms listed on Airbnb has surpassed that of the largest hotel chain. By connecting peers to one another, we not only create value, but people connect in new ways. This has been the case in my personal experience, where staying in a person’s home gave me a new level of connectedness to the place as well as a new friend. The potential for the sharing economy — or what in the future will be known as the economy — has the potential to help form community and tackle some of society’s most pressing issues.
When Seth hit the stage, he began by asking everyone to look up from their screens. He led off, saying that the person next to you is smarter than you at something. We should not let technology inhibit us from learning about and collaborating with the people that are right next to us. Seth recounted to the audience a story seeing a woman with her son who was trying to get his mom’s attention but she was completely absorbed by her screen. Considering the irony of that moment, he encouraged us to tune into what is actually happening around us rather than be fooled by the hope that the best things come through our screens.
Following Seth Godin, Scott Heiferman, founder of Meetup took the stage. In the spirit of Meetup, Scott gave us a reason to meet the person next to us, because sometimes it can be difficult to say hello until you are given permission. He carried Seth’s statement one step further and asked us to find out just how our neighbor is smarter than us, turning the room into a meetup of sorts. Scott founded Meetup to do just that — to give people permission to meet neighbors or other likeminded people who might be their next spouse, cofounder, or friend.
Along with other panels of makers and innovators in the sharing space, this session was genuinely inspiring. A great reminder that though technology can connect us in incredible ways — the best in life comes through sharing and real human interaction — not through a screen.