fredag 24 oktober 2014

The future of the sharing economy 12 times over

My previous blog post listed all the guest lecturers that have visited our course "The future of media" during the first half of the autumn term. This year's theme is "The future of the digital commons and the sharing economy". Last week we had our last guests drop by and we also divided the students into no less than 12 project groups. They have by now worked together for 10 days and we met each group to review their project plans earlier this week. Some groups have probably already found their Great Idea that they will work with during the rest of the terms, while other groups still have work ahead of them trying to figure that out.

Below is a list of the 12 project groups together with the short descriptions that brought the students together. For several groups, these descriptions are already outdated, but they are still good enough to get an idea about what topics our students are working on now and will work on for the rest of the autumn term.

Trust and reputation systems. For sharing to be able to work, there has to be (justified) trust between strangers. So who should you trust? How do state-of-the-art reputation systems encourage and ensure the creation of “social capital” and mutual trust today (and punish free riders and cheaters)? How could such systems be further developed to support the digital commons and the sharing economy of tomorrow?

3D society. 3D-printers (and makerspaces and Fab labs etc.) will change society forever. Explore and explain how by finding, talking and participating with the Stockholm “scene”. Choose to explore the positive effects (Rifkin) and/or possible negative effects (printing guns and drugs, who has control over the printers or of the equivalent of the “ink”).

The future of learning. What is the future of learning and the future of universities in an age of free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the Internet? What are the pros and cons of MOOCs compared to the alternatives?

A sustainable sharing economy. What is the relationship between sustainability and the sharing economy? How can a future sharing economy be shaped to be maximally sustainable?

Sharing motivations. Why do people share? For the noble good, for making some extra cash for myself, from dire need or for some other reason (or combination of reasons)? What does this imply for the future of sharing?

The end of big business. The sharing economy will undermine and topple some (or many?) of the giants of the 20th century industrial economy. Explore and explain how. Will collaborative consumption ruin old business structures and create a new economic system?

The future of crowdwork. Crowdwork is a powerful idea. Some work is done by voluneers for free (Wikipedia, Foldit), other work is done for profit (Amazon Mechanical Turk). What is the future of crowdwork? For for-profit crowdwork, how can such ideas be leveraged to be beneficial for employers and service providers (e.g. Amazon) as well as for employees?

The future of piracy. What is the connection (if any) between piracy and the commons? Do pirates perceive themselves to be “commoners”? Are pirates “liberating” things that should be in the common or are they criminals who should be stopped? Hunt down your very own pirates (and anti-pirates) and find the answers to how these things go together.

The future of trust. Trust might very well be *the* issue that determines the future of the digital commons and the sharing economy. How do companies (and non-profits) work with issues of trust today? What are the possibilities and what are the challenges?

The bottom-up revolution. Instead of installing expensive meteorological weather stations, why not let (many) ordinary users report the temperature and the shape of the clouds through an app (e.g. Shareweather)? And why not build bottom-up maps of pollution or congestion or where the nearest sushi bar or free wi-fi is? What are the implications of creating new commons through this bottom-up “revolution”?

The future of shared food. Can food production (locally cultivated organic food in gardens) and preparation/consumption (shared dinners etc.) be brought to the cities and mediated by ICT?

The future of work. What will happen to work (good jobs, bad jobs, no jobs) if the sharing economy expands? Will sharing create a better society for all or will it undermine safety and security in the job market, e.g. taxi drivers starting to work for Uber but with lower salaries)? What are the effects of the current sharing economy on job creation and the job market?

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