With the development of social networking sites, user-generated content, and increased access to broadband technologies and personal computers, the Internet has been radically redefined and repositioned.  This shift towards “Web 2.0” has changed the way we communicate with one another; it has democratized the way in which information is shared amongst users; and it has collapsed geographic, political, and cultural barriers, in turn redefining our perception of community.

While it can be hard to grasp in specific terms how exactly the Internet has changed us, there is one very tangible way in which it has made an impact.  The development of “redistribution markets”-sites where users can exchange, sell, or share goods, services, and space-has been a defining aspect of Web 2.0.

The idea of sharing, collaborating, and reselling is nothing new.  Neighbors in tight-knit communities have always borrowed an egg in a pinch; we’ve probably all carpooled for convenience at some point; and girlfriends have forever swapped clothes with each other.  What’s unique about these behaviors today is how easily facilitated they are by the Internet and social media in particular.

[medium_ad_left]In the days before all things digital, you had to know your neighbors well enough to knock on their door, you knew who was driving where and when, or you had to have friends to give your things to. Now there are a plethora of sites ready to help you buy, swap, or donate just about anything you may need.

Sharing Economy, Collaborative Consumption
This exchanging of resources-time, money, space, skills, and products-hits at the crux of what is being called the “sharing economy”, or “collaborative consumption”.  Looking at the ways in which Web 2.0 has facilitated this new economy sheds light on how the online user-driven marketplace has impacted our understanding of, and relationship with, the concepts of ownership and community.  As we shift towards an economy that values access over ownership, significant opportunities for marketplace innovation emerge.

Learn more on April 24.
For business leaders and entrepreneurs interested in learning more, join us at “Swap, Don’t Shop: Making Green in the Sharing Economy” on April 24th in New York City.  This event, part of the “Making Green From Green” series hosted by the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York, will offer rich insights and practical advice for how to capitalize on this emerging trend.  Visit http://www.cbsacny.org/ for more tickets and further information.

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