Micah Saul: This project is built on a hypothesis. There are moments in history when the status quo fails. Political systems prove insufficient, religious ideas unsatisfactory, social structures intolerable. These are moments of crisis.
Aengus Anderson: During some of these moments, great minds have entered into conversation and torn apart inherited ideas, dethroning truths, combining old thoughts, and creating new ideas. They’ve shaped the norms of future generations.
Saul: Every era has its issues, but do ours warrant The Conversation? If they do, is it happening?
Anderson: We’ll be exploring these sorts of questions through conversations with a cross‐section of American thinkers, people who are critiquing some aspect of normality and offering an alternative vision of the future. People who might be having The Conversation.
Saul: Like a real conversation, this project is going to be subjective. It will frequently change directions, connect unexpected ideas, and wander between the tangible and the abstract. It will leave us with far more questions than answers because after all, nobody has a monopoly on dreaming about the future.
Anderson: I’m Aengus Anderson.
Saul: And I’m Micah Saul. And you’re listening to The Conversation.
Micah Saul: And here we go again.
Aengus Anderson: Are you ready for the sharing economy?
Saul: I have no idea.
Anderson: I don’t either, actually, and I’m still trying to figure out one, what the hell the sharing economy is. Two, what it’s going to do to the rest of the economy. So, here’s a little backstory. In 2010, I was working on a radio series called The Decisions Project. I was riding all over North America on my motorcycle asking people about their hardest decisions. While I was traveling, I was couchsurfing. When I was passing through Austin, I had a series of “didn’t quite reach the couchsurfer in time” moments. So I ended up just connecting with couchsurfers who were passing through. And one of the people I met on route through there was Gabe, and I asked him about his hardest decision, and it was fascinating. If you’re interested in hearing it, you should go to thedecisionsproject.com [domain has been taken over] and actually listen to it. He’s hidden in there.
Two years later I found myself pitching a story to This American Life about Gabe’s hardest decision, and what I needed for that was a follow‐up interview. So I got on Couchsurfing, I found Gabe, we reconnected and ended up talking about his current work, which is evangelizing the sharing economy. So that’s what brought us here. I was really blown away by a lot of the stuff he was talking about, and he’s just a fabulous, eloquent speaker. He’s really fun. I’m very glad we’ve got him in the project.
Saul: Me too. Do you feel like you gave up anything that makes you human by reconnecting with him via the Internet?
Anderson: You’re baiting this.
Saul: I am baiting this. I’d like to hear what he has to say specifically to Andrew Keen.
Saul: And specifically to what it means to be using the Internet in social means.
Anderson: Absolutely. It seems like there are going to be two paths we walk in this interview. One is going to be community, and one is going to be economy. For Gabe, he’s really interested in both of those things. The sharing economy brings them together for him. It has a really prosocial element, and I’m looking forward to asking him more about that and why that’s good, and if it really works, and asking him to confront some of Andrew Keen’s thoughts about Facebook and social media, and technology making us lonelier.
I’m also curious to see what sort of bigger economic ramifications he thinks this has. And I want to know who it leaves behind.
Saul: Absolutely. Alright, well have fun. Good luck. And let’s reconnect afterwards.
Gabriel Stempinski: I’m an evangelist for the sharing economy, I guess that’s the best way you can explain it. I’m not a founder of any of the sources. I’m not a worker or lecturer in it, but I’m a huge proponent of it. And because of that, I got together with a couple other folks who are really prominent in the sharing economy and decided to write a book about it that introduces people into how to live a more shareable lifestyle. How to live a very big life on a very small budget. And basically had become early adopters in what I feel is going to be the next big thing. I’m also producing a documentary on couchsurfing, which is a big component of the sharing economy. [It] enables people to travel on a shoestring budget and visit really exotic, interesting places and interact with locals and build community.
Anderson: What is the sharing economy?
Stempinski: So, the sharing economy differs from our traditional economy in the aspect of its main commodities are underutilized or unused resources that people can use in lieu of or in supplement to currency for a value proposition. And in addition to that, it also has a value proposition that’s non‐tangible in that it builds community. They’re peer‐to‐peer services, so it’s usually not a service with a company, but a service from a person to a person, or they’re localized in a community as well.
Anderson: So it’s a way to basically, if you’re a regular person and you don’t want to spend money on something, or you don’t have money to spend on something, or you just prefer this form of engagement, you can put your services up for sale, or something like that?
Stempinski: Yeah, not just your services but also your tangible items, too. One of the better‐known examples is Airbnb, where people will have free space in their home and they will take that free space that otherwise sits completely unused, and they’ll market it to travelers to come stay in lieu of having to stay in a hotel. And they’ll be able to generate some income off of that. And then a benefit on the traveler’s side is that they get to stay with a local, they get the enrichment of staying in an area with a local, and they also save a lot of money versus staying in a hotel, especially in large, densely‐populated cities like San Francisco or New York.
And then there’s other aspects that aren’t just associated with travel. I mean, there’s urban gardening, where the community gets together and they petition the city to let them use unused land to build an urban farm to benefit the community. That’s another aspect of it. There’s a thousand different variations of ride‐sharing, car‐sharing. Instead of going to a car rental agency to rent a car, you can use a service like Getaround, where you can actually rent your neighbor’s car. In a city like San Francisco, a lot of people have cars that they might not use but say once or twice a week. Every day that your car is sitting in your garage is a day you’re paying for something and not getting use out of it, so why not benefit someone else and also turn that into a revenue stream for yourself?
Anderson: So you’ve got travel, you’ve got cars, you’ve got gardening…
Stempinski: Yeah. And this is the area that I’m really most passionate about in that this rough time of economic strife we have a lot, especially a lot of young people, who are having trouble finding jobs. Even people that are college graduates, highly‐educated, and the sharing economy’s really providing for these people. If you look at sites like TaskRabbit for example, TaskRabbit is a medium through which, say I need a ride to the airport. I can go on TaskRabbit and I post my task saying, “Here’s my flight number. I need a ride to the airport.” The members of TaskRabbit will see my task and they will bid on it. They’ll say, “I’ll take you to the airport,” for $20, or $30. So I’ll review their profile, I’ll see all their references, and I basically pick one.
That is going to take the place of say a taxi that I would take. So the taxi to the airport would be $50. Ultimately we all know that the taxi driver’s only going to get, after all their expenses, maybe twenty‐five, thirty bucks of that. Instead of going through that, I cut out the middleman. I have some single mom or a college student or even retirees that are on a fixed income come pick me up, drive me to the airport, we’ll listen to music, hang out. It’s just like having a buddy come pick you up, and I give them thirty bucks and there you go. And they’re super reliable.
Anderson: It sounds like you’ve actually done this.
Stempinski: I do it all the time. I do it almost every week, I do TaskRabbits.
Stempinski: And I use TaskRabbit not every single week, but I’d say 80% of the time for airport transportation. I’ve used TaskRabbits to help me organize parties. In the book that we’re writing, I even hired a series of TaskRabbits to write the TaskRabbit chapter, because it seemed to me like that would be the most appropriate way to analyze and speak about TaskRabbit, would be from the viewpoint of TaskRabbits.
Anderson: When I think of past sharing economies, I think of things that are old. I think of old senses of community in earlier centuries. I think of barter. I think of community favors and things like that. Things like fraternal or religious organizations. This seems different. What is this?
Stempinski: So, let’s let’s look at the last sharing economy that we had. During World War II, we had government‐imposed rationing because we were sending the bullets, beans, and bandages to our troops overseas. And there was all the propaganda that if you don’t share your car with someone, you’re sharing it with Hitler and all of that, because you don’t want to use all the extra fuel, etc. That was a government‐imposed sharing economy where we had to ration, and those shortages led people to come up with kind of innovative, creative, homegrown ideas. You know, everyone had their liberty garden, and so they were able to grow a lot of their own food because they couldn’t get a lot of stuff with the rationing system. So if you wanted to have any of those extra treats, you would grow those things. Or you wanted to have some extra stuff to barter with with your neighbors, you would grow those things. And a lot people did community gardens on fallow land. That’s a really good example of what I don’t want to happen this time around, because that was forced and imposed upon the public due to shortages.
And that really brings me to why I am so passionate about this right now, is because if you really want to look at the UN population estimates, by 2050, we’re going to have nine and a half, ten billion, people on the planet. So in my lifetime, before I die, assuming I live to see 2050, the world population will have doubled since the day I was born. It will more than have doubled. But the resources that we have haven’t doubled. And our rate of consumption hasn’t really changed any since the 80s. I mean, I definitely see a dystopian future, and it’s not very far out.
Anderson: Okay. So that’s kind of the fork in the road I’m sort of curious about where we start pushing for this sharing economy. If we don’t do something like this, tell me a little bit more about the dystopian future, and then we’ll switch to our utopian future.
Stempinski: Sure. The dystopian future is basically going to be a future of huge wealth imbalance, where you’re going to have a small handful of people that are able to subsist. And they’re going to have a lot of people basically on welfare because there’s not going to be enough resources to go around. It’s going to be rationing all around. It might not be like living in tents, but it’s essentially going to be okay, the government goes and gives everybody coupons.
Anderson: So you see are a real pinch coming at some point.
Stempinski: Well, this is exactly what happens, right. You go to the late 70s, we had a pinch in gas. What happened with gas? We had to ration gas. Go to the 40s, everyone got coupon books. In the Great Depression, soup lines. That’s what governments do. In times of emergency they step and they take over. And once we have so many people fighting over so few resources, you can’t fix that. So, maybe there’ll be some population control measures. I mean, the possibilities of how bad it could be are endless.
But that’s the issue, is that why does have to be painful, before we start? You shouldn’t have to touch the stove and burn the shit out of your hand to realize it’s a bad idea to touch the stove. So I am passionate about avoiding having to do it because oh no, if we don’t do it we’re screwed. I think we should start doing it (once again long‐term thinking) now to avoid having the problem in the first place. Because if we keep on this mindset of as a society we only make changes when there is an emergency at hand, then we’re always just managing by emergency. You’re always just cleaning up your mess. You’re basically just doing enough to avoid dying, never really advancing.
Anderson: Do you think that’s kind of what we’re trapped in as biological creatures? Like, do we actually only act when we hit a crisis? Do you think we can really intellectually see forward and forestall, or do we need the emotional tug of going, “Oh no, we made it really bad!”
Stempinski: No, I don’t think that we’re trapped that way. I just think over the last fifty or sixty years, we really haven’t advanced much, especially here in America. But then in the new millennium, you know, I think that we have a bit of a new awakening. You get concepts like global warming that have gained a lot of popular traction. And that’s definitely a forward‐thinking idea. That’s not an immediate gratification, that’s immediate pain for long‐term benefit. You get a lot of conservancy ideas. And you’re starting to see people really want to make efforts to make the world a better place. It’s not just a small group of fringe folks and everyone else saying, “Oh, you’re just a dreamer.”
So, that means that in the future, we have to change the way we look at consumption. That’s why I’m such a big proponent of the sharing economy. Because it’s not an issue of if it’s going to happen, it’s when it’s going to happen. And I’d rather people voluntarily adopt it now and start realizing the benefit of it now while we’re still in this kind of relative land of plenty, than be forced into it later when all of a sudden there’s not enough water to cover Phoenix anymore because it’s a huge city in the middle of a desert and they have to go on water rationing.
My timeframe is long, and if you’re an early adopter and you get a good system in voluntarily, it monumentally beats a government‐imposed system based on emergency situations. Because ultimately if there was a marketplace for everything that you have that you’re not using…I mean there are people here in San Francisco that literally don’t have to work. They’re people that that use a combination of Airbnb, and then Getaround for their car, and then TaskRabbit for odd jobs. And that basically gets them through grad school. The starving artist doesn’t have to starve anymore.
Anderson: It seems like this is a very new thing, and it seems like it’s sort of facilitated by people using technology in really new ways. Is it something that once everyone kind of gets into the circuit then it ceases to be so profitable?
Stempinski: I think in a small picture, it’s not as scalable. If everyone were only relying on Airbnb, it’s not scalable. But the thing is that it’s not so much an issue of scalability in depth, because once a lot of people get on each individual service, the value proposition is going to get narrower and narrower. But the breadth of all of these different services and the variation in these services and the communities that they support, is growing every single month. And so you get the ones where everyone can use, but there’s lots of so many cool niche ones that will focus on people in rural areas, or people in coastal areas, or fishermen, or loggers, that they want to harvest wood on someone’s land that they would normally clear because they’re building and that wood would get thrown away.
And so there are these peer‐to‐peer marketplaces where we’re basically utilizing the technology to turn all of this waste into someone else’s profit.
Anderson: Is this a fundamentally new type of economy that we couldn’t have even developed or organized before?
Stempinski: One of my coauthors, she likes to use the term “new sharing economy” for that exact same reason. Because previously, sharing economies were limited by basically your economy was the people you immediately knew. So, I share with my neighbor, I share with my cousin, I share with my grandmother. In the new sharing economy, it actually encourages you to deal with people you don’t know. And that’s the really cool side‐benefit of it, is that it builds communities. Because what we don’t have today that we did have seventy years ago is a sense of neighborhood and a sense of community. If you ask your grandparents and I ask my grandparents when they were our age how many of their neighbors they knew, how many people in their town they knew, and then compare that against our answers, the simple fact that I live in a sixteen‐unit building and I might know four other people in this building and I’ve lived here for six years, it’s the essence of of isolationism in modern society.
And this fixes that. Because how can you not get to know somebody when they’re driving you to the airport every week? And how can you not get to know somebody when you’re joining up with their cool ad hoc tour that they’re throwing around town? I’m trying to get our generation to verge away from our parents’ generation’s mindset of, if I don’t already know you I don’t want to know you.
Anderson: A while ago I talked to a guy named Andrew Keen, and he recently wrote a book called Digital Vertigo, and it’s about Facebook and Twitter sort of diminishing our interpersonal communications. It seems like you see ways to make the digital world create physical community. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Stempinski: Yeah. So, the new sharing economy is the antithesis of his argument. He’s positing (and I don’t put words in his mouth but this is just my assumption because I’ve heard it from a thousand people) that we now overshare. We have no boundaries, but we do it all in an impersonal way online. What I’m trying to do, and the word I’m trying to get out, is let’s overshare with a bunch of people we don’t know just like we do on Facebook and Twitter, but let’s take it offline.
Everything in the new sharing economy, the economy part of it is all peer‐to‐peer. I hire a TaskRabbit, I meet that person. I see them face to face. I couchsurf, I stay in someone’s home. I take a ride‐share, I take a ZenRide up to Lake Tahoe, I’m in a car with strangers. It’s using the Silicon Valley tech and all this awesome development, but bringing it back to an actual real‐life community that brings real tangible value, not just this digital masturbation of throwing stuff out on Facebook and Twitter and sitting alone in your room all day. it’s going online just long enough to set something up really awesome and then getting back out and experiencing the world, using the technology given as a step‐stone to do so.
Anderson: Is this just kind of a flash in the pan, or do you think this is going to be a new trend?
Stempinski: If you look at any of the growth patterns this is definitely not a flash in the pan. Just for the value proposition alone, the interest is there, And it’s intrinsically there. It’s not just like, I’m hip, I’m cool, I’m like a Silicon Valley tech guy so I’m going to be on the cutting edge of everything. I could find a seventy year‐old grandmother that would at least hear me out.
Anderson: Does the financial element make the community element different than earlier say, community networks? Like, if you’re in World War II and you just have to share a ride with someone, does that create a different relation than now where you’re paying them? Does somehow the injection of money into the system detract from the sense of community?
Stempinski: No, I think it actually adds to the sense of community, because people are doing this voluntarily. And when you look at the maturity models of all of these services, they all at first start off as a save money/make money value proposition. But then as they advance and they become stable and profitable, you see they start putting up forums, and groups, and they have offsite meetups. And so now on Airbnb it’s not just I rent my place out to somebody or I rent someone else’s place, There’s actually a forum where people can chat and they can post travel guides, and they have meetups of local Airbnb‐ers.
Which also brings me to another thing. The phrase that I used, Airbnb‐ers or couchsurfers… People identify by these services. People have never done this in the past. People have never labeled themselves by a service that they use.
Anderson: Community comes up a lot in this project, and it comes up in a lot of different ways. Tell me why community is good.
Stempinski: That’s a really interesting question because everyone seems to think community is good, just right off the bat, like people think that curing cancer is good. Even though when you really think about it, you know, with the population problem maybe it’s not so good. But the big thing about community is that when it’s done in the right way, when you build communities around social responsibility, when you build communities around peer‐to‐peer marketplaces, you actually do significant, tangible, measurable good for the world. So it’s not just about the warm fuzzy feeling that you get. It’s not just about having a group of friends. But it’s about having a strong community of people that will loan you or rent you their unused goods or services. People that aren’t afraid to trust people. People that aren’t afraid to share.
Anderson: Trust seems like a huge element.
Stempinski: In the book, there’s an entire chapter on trust. Once again, go back to our grandparents’ age. Humans haven’t evolved in the last seventy years to a point where we’re just inherently evil people. But we trust each other so much less. The spread of mass media, in my opinion, is really kind of to blame for that. Of all the kidnaps in the US, only 8% of them are committed by people that the family has never met, complete strangers. 92% are by either family members or associates. So look at those numbers. You should be more afraid of your family members and all those than just some random stranger.
But what we have? Stranger Danger, a huge campaign telling kids from a very young age “if you don’t already know somebody, they’re a bad person.” And so that creates this isolationism, that creates this inherent mistrust of thinking everyone’s bad.
Anderson: So we lose something there, you would say.
Stempinski: Yeah, we do. We lose something. From a very young age we become very cynical about the society we live in. We assume that everybody is a bad person unless you’re part of my immediate family.
Anderson: The sharing economy threatens a lot of traditional economic players. Like, you mention taxes earlier, or hotels. Seems like all of these people have got a lot to lose.
Stempinski: You’re right. You go to cities like New York where the hotel lobby actually tried to make Airbnb illegal. San Francisco, they did the same thing. So now all the Airbnb hosts in San Francisco have to pay a 15% hotel tax.
So yeah, they’re fighting against it, but that’s just the natural evolution of business. The telephone put the telegraph companies out of business. Cellphones put the landline telephone companies out of business.
Anderson: But this is almost like little people threatening to put big people out of business.
Stempinski: Exactly, and that’s the way it should be.
Anderson: I mean, the big people are organized and have a lot of economic and political power. Do you think it’s going to be a square fight, or is it going to get regulated away?
Stempinski: That’s the really interesting thing, is that how could it be regulated away? Because there are so many services, it’s online, which is notoriously difficult for anyone to regulate. And people are pretty much just utilizing their own property that they already own. Nobody can stop me from doing it. And either these large businesses can figure out a way to adapt, or they become the Betamax. They become the telegraph. Businesses don’t have infinite lifespan, especially in services that rely on some sort of technology.
Anderson: Does it leave anyone behind? It seems like you have to really focus on yourself being out there.
Stempinski: Yeah. I mean, the people it’s going to leave behind of the people that aren’t technologically connected. You see places like in the third‐world countries where they don’t necessarily have reliable Internet access, it’s going to be a challenge for that to launch. But give it a couple decades. It boggles my mind to think that by the day I die, say in 2050, that there won’t be easy Internet access everywhere in the world.
Anderson: One other thing I want to ask you about. The Conversation, the premise of this project. Do you think this is a moment where we need to be having a conversation about the future?
Stempinski: I don’t think there’s ever a bad time to be having a conversation about the future. The more present you are in the future (by present I mean like mentally present, thinking about it) the better you shape that future.
Anderson: Do you think this is a particularly unique moment in history, where we need to be having that conversation more? I mean, you mentioned resources.
Stempinski: I think this is particularly unique and not necessarily because of resources, because if you look at the grand scheme of things we still have, at least for the next ten or fifteen years, ample resources, especially here in the States. But the really interesting time right now is because we are at this fortuitous moment of great technological advance, and we have this huge influx of really intelligent young people who are willing to take financial risk to start up new businesses.
And that’s coupled with the fact that we’re in a bad economic state. It creates this really awesome, fertile ground for people to launch all these really cool ideas that will change the future, and have them just for their value proposition alone get a lot of early adopters. And hopefully, with evangelists like myself spreading the word, we can help these early adopters or people that want to become early adopters, figure out how they can utilize this whole mesh of resources to better their lives and change the way they think about consuming smartly, and utilizing other unused resources to help others, and vice versa.
Anderson: We have a lot of different people, some of whom are on board with us, some of whom aren’t. A really diverse, complicated country, a more diverse globe. Do you think we can actually bring these people together to talk about the future? Or are we beyond a point where one can even have a conversation like that? Are we just moving forward because things are changing so fast?
Stempinski: No, people are talking about it all the time. If you have a minute I’d like to point you to shareable.net. It’s an online sharing magazine. You’re starting to see topics like collaborative consumption show up at TED Talks, and Build Conference, and Digital Life Design conference. There’s a lot of big name, interesting people that are actively trying to have these conversations. It’s not just tech, it’s not just sociology, it’s not just financial, it’s not just community. It’s all of those things.
We have a group called Sharers of San Francisco. We do essentially an event almost every week, and the variety of people I’ve met is just through the roof. And it’s really made me think a lot about my own life, my own habits, the way I live, because I’ve really been exposed to a much larger cross‐section of society. Start up founders to college professors to housekeepers. We have all sorts of people show up because it’s just a really intriguing, cool thing and everybody has something interesting to say about it.
Aengus Anderson: Gabriel Stempinsky. Sharing economy. What do you think?
Micah Saul: Very cool. He’s an evangelist for this for a reason. He knows how to talk about this.
Anderson: He certainly does, and I almost went and sold myself on TaskRabbit.
Saul: Let’s step back and tie it into the broader picture, and let’s talk about the good.
Anderson: The good, which is a little harder to get from this one because I mean, we didn’t directly attack at like we have in some of our other conversations. But man, there is an idea of the good that permeates all of this.
Anderson: And it seems like they are actually two ideas of the good. Because for Gabe, these sites are valuable both for their economic qualities, but also for their community qualities.
Anderson: What’s the good for the economic side?
Saul: I think he says it very well. We all of us have things that we are not utilizing. Be that that our car, be that the extra couch, be that that bit of fallow land in the corner of our plot in Kansas. And if we can make money by letting other people use it, that’s a win.
Anderson: It seems like you can’t get away from that there’s a strong free market—
Saul: Oh, absolutely.
Anderson: Okay. So that’s the economic good. Individuals freely offering and exchanging services. How does that square with the community side, right? Which is the notion that we’re too individualized, and we do these things to come together and to gain these sort of intangible community benefits like, okay sure there’s an economic benefit to community. But there’s also a lot of psychological benefits. Society just works better, people are happier. We know that. We’ve got the studies.
Anderson: Gabe is an evangelist for this not just because it makes people money or because it makes the world more efficient, but because it’s fun.
Saul: Right. No, exactly.
Anderson: So how do you have the individualist ideals of this really free market, and the sort of like, “Hey, but that’s also creating this real strong community,” sense. Can those coexist?
Saul: I don’t know.
Anderson: I did not spot that when we were having the conversation. This is one of the things in retrospect I would love to ask more about.
Anderson: But I think that’s certainly— For me, those ideas still seem in tension and maybe I’m just thinking about them wrong.
Saul: Okay, so I suppose you can create some sort of…
Saul: —between these two things.
Anderson: Which seems…possible.
Saul: And I think on on a local level, I can easily see that working.
Anderson: I think all of his arguments show that right here, right now [crosstalk] in San Francisco, it’s working.
Saul: It is working. Right. Is that scalable? Right now, it’s being used by the early adopters. The early adopters of the people that recognize the benefits of both things and are like the people like him, who say this is an economic boon, and this is a social boon, and are able to individually strike that balance in their head.
Anderson: And have access to the knowledge to get into this, have access to the technology. There’s a real class assumption. There’s a bar to entry to all of this that a lot of people can’t meet.
Anderson: And maybe the community works better in this case because right now there is a scarcity of labor so it’s worth your while to do the sort of menial jobs for other people, or to share stuff. But if everyone floods into the community does it just become a more efficient way for us to exploit poor people? The sharing economy on its surface looks like a huge threat to our traditional economy.
Saul: Absolutely. And I think big industry views it that way. Like, the hotel industry certainly views that way. I think the evangelists of the sharing economy view it as a big economic shift.
Anderson: Yeah. It looks like it could be this massive democratizing agent. It could bring a lot of positive change. I could unseat a lot of ossified companies. But here’s what I’m going to argue: I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.
Anderson: I think the sharing economy could make us far more efficient. But let’s just assume that it actually doesn’t get bought out and co‐opted and regulated. Let’s say it keeps going on as it does. I think it would be a fundamental change if it actually questioned the underlying logic of our economic system. But I don’t think it does. I think though it makes us more efficient in our use of resources, it still encourages an economic model that is based on growth. The free market good that is underneath all of this is still there. And that is still a model that says, “Go out, produce more.” Its values are ultimately physicalist values.
Anderson: In a way, this, though it seems to be a revision is in many ways part of common sense. It’s a new take on it. It’s kind of a threatening change, it’s a shake up, but it’s still common sense. The community aspect’s a little different. But underneath it, it just wants to grow. We know the free market song and dance.
Saul: I fully agree that it is based on the same foundation that may or may not be slipping away underneath us. But, iterative change is good. Obviously with this project we’re looking for the huge new ideas that completely shake things up and tear things down to the foundation or even further. And that’s really scary.
Anderson: I don’t actually know if we’ll find many of those.
Saul: Right. This seems like an idea that is much much easier to get people on board with. It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s a really good band‐aid.
Anderson: It is a really good band‐aid. And I wonder, could this sort of technological implementation of how we allocate our resources coexist with a different sort of cultural attitude on resources? Maybe it could. Maybe there’s a strange conversation to be had between someone like Jan Lundberg and Gabriel Stempinksi. Or Tim Morton and Gabriel Stempinksi.
Anderson: Maybe there are different fundamentals that this new sharing economy model could really work with. I don’t know. I think that’s where the conversation gets interesting.
Saul: I completely agree.
Anderson: Let’s see if we can capture them and put them in a room together.
Saul: I thought we decided not to do that. I thought that’s why you were driving around the country.
Anderson: This is too important important to be hindered by morality.
Saul: I think that’s as good a place as any.
Anderson: Probably where I need to be stopped.
That was Gabriel Stempinksi, recorded June 5, 2012 in San Francisco, California.
Anderson: So thanks for listening. I’m Aengus Anderson.
Saul: And I’m Micah Saul.
This interview at the Conversation web site, with project notes, comments, and taxonomic organization specific to The Conversation.