Airbnb facilitates the booking of over 37 million overnight stays per year. Uber operates in 450 cities in 60 countries. Both claim to be part of the rapidly growing ‘sharing economy’ — but what does that actually mean?
Here, Tom Slee offers a razor-sharp examination of the ‘sharing economy’: from its genesis in open-source software and media file sharing, through to the present day popularity of Uber, Airbnb, Taskrabbit, and similar services, which operate outside of normal business regulations, taking on none of the risk or responsibility when something goes wrong. He asks, how did we get from the generosity of what’s mine is yours, to the self-interest and greed of what’s yours is mine?
‘The Sharing Economy frames its critics as Luddites, bureaucrats and rent-seekers, but Tom Slee is none of these. A thoughtful technologist, Slee paints a well-researched picture of companies that have built up massive market valuations by externalising their costs and sidestepping regulations designed to protect consumers. This book is clear-eyed and important.’
Sue Gardner, former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation
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‘Superbly argued … Slee points out, rightly, that his arguments are not about whether he or his readers actually use these services … there is no contradiction in taking an Uber home from a party while wishing the company were better behaved. Only the law can force it to be so.’
Steven Poole, The Guardian
‘Tom Slee’s essential new book shows that the sharing economy has very little to do with sharing. Slee uses wit, clarity, and facts to demolish the self-serving mythologies of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and figure out what Uber, Amazon and their kind are really up to.’
Henry Farrell, co-chair, Social Science Research Council’s Digital Culture Initiative; professor of political science and international affairs, George Washington University
‘A smart and searing critique of a business that people are only just beginning to think about in a serious way.’
'Lucid and rigorous … Slee dismantles the facade of the sharing economy, revealing hidden and often troubling truths ... If you want to understand how internet businesses really operate, What’s Yours Is Mine is the place to start.’
Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows
‘Laser-sharp insights about the real impact of popular start-ups on our livelihoods and communities … Required reading for anyone interested in technology and economic justice.’
Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform