Platform of Platforms: Meshing Networks, Scales and Values for a Local Sustainable Sharing Economy
The “sharing economy” has promised more sustainable use of the world’s finite resources, exploiting latency and promoting renting rather than ownership through digital networks. But do the digital brokers that use networks at global scale offer the same care for the planet as more traditional forms of sharing? We contrast the sustainability of managing idle capacity with the merits of collective local agency bred by caring-based sharing in a locality. Drawing on two studies of neighbourhood sharing in London and analysis of the meshing of local sharing initiatives, we ask how ‘relational assets’ form and build up over time in a neighbourhood, and how a platform of platforms might act as local socio-technical infrastructure to sustain alternative economies and different models of trust to those found in the scaling sharing economy. We close by proposing digital networks of support for local solidarity and resourcefulness, showing how CSCW knowledge on coordination and collaboration has a role in achieving these ends.