Remix (book) - Commercial Economies Vs. Sharing Economies

Commercial Economies Vs. Sharing Economies

In addition to describing two cultures Lessig also proposes two economies: the commercial and the sharing. The commercial economy is governed by the simple logic of the market, where products and services have a tangible economic value, be it money or labor. The Internet has been extremely successful as a portal for commercial economies to flourish - improving existing businesses and serving as a platform for thousands of new ones. It has been exceptionally fruitful of businesses that cater to a niche market - exemplified by such companies as Amazon and Netflix which provide a range of items that could not be accommodated by one physical space. This dynamic has been outlined by Wired''s editor in chief, Chris Anderson, in his book The Long Tail. Another obvious success story of a digital commercial economy is Google, which has managed to create value from value others have already created.

The sharing economy functions outside monetary exchange. We all belong to sharing economies - most obvious examples are our friendships and relationships. This economy is regulated not by a metric of price but by a set of social relations. Like the commercial economy, the sharing economy extends into the digital realm. Lessig's favorite example is Wikipedia itself. The top ten most visited website relies on user contribution - from creation to editing - for its content and gives no monetary incentive for this contribution. While providing the option of anonymity, the users of Wikipedia have been remarkably consistent with the site's suggestions - be it regarding consistent aesthetic or neutral point of view. A vital characteristic of a successful sharing economy is people are in it because they want to be.

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