It’s been one year since I graduated RCA_DI and started freelancing straightaway. Thanks to you all, I am still surviving. Projects ranged amongst 3 exhibitions, 2 scenario-visualisations, 2 prototypings, 2 UX/UIs.
The second year starts with an exhibition – I’ll be in part of the “Fab Mind” exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight Tokyo from 24th October 2014. Among brilliant designers, I’ll be exhibiting my new project “Professional Sharing”, which I’m now working on with an RCA grad Naoki, a Uni friend of mine Kentaro, and an RCA_DI grad Alexa. This post is to summarise the project’s background.
So called Sharing Economy has been booming. For those who are not familiar, it’s a term for a type of services in which an individual can lend or sell her idling assets to others who need them. Airbnb allow you to let your idling room, ZipCar – cars, Task Rabbit – time & skill, etc.
While this type of services is brilliant in materialising the idea of sharing assets, there have been problems in its way of operation and advertising. Let’s take Airbnb as an example. there are more and more individuals and even companies that buy properties solely to let them in Airbnb. To advertise their property with better price, they exploit the nature of AirBnB to circumvent the cost of regulations and insurances which normal property agencies would have to pay. Consumers welcome another cheaper option no matter what the price entails. But the original users of the service – amateur sharers who intend to let an empty room out of their goodwill or need in small cash – are suddenly forced to compete against these professional sharers, and struggle. Their advert can’t scale as those professionals’ ones can. In this everyone-is-investor situation, Airbnb take 15% of each transaction into their pocket. Issues in Sharing Economy are better pointed out in Scott’s talks in LIFT, the article by Andrew Leonard.
When I was asked to take part in the “Fab Mind” exhibition at the beginning of this year by its curators Noriko Kawakami and Ikko Yokoyma, I was also asked to exhibit an economy-related project. At that time, Mt. Gox, a BitCoin exchange in Tokyo, went bankrupt with their 850,000 BTC missing, and Airbnb raised $450m in a fundraising which valued the business at $10bn. These events made me start speculating a life in a “perfect sharing economy” accelerated by the virtual currency and the wearable tech and so on. The brief below has been derived from here:
In a near future where so called ‘Sharing Economy’ prevails everywhere at every level, any idling asset of an individual can be sold to others under the name of ‘sharing’. From traditional assets such as rooms and cars, through more abstract ones such as time, skill, and knowledge, and to ‘sleeping’ computer processor in wearable devices and data produced from within human body, any resource one can harvest is constantly monitored by the algorithm and is either sold to others or used to harvest more valuable resources. Sub-penny transactions backed up by the virtual currency also accelerate this act of sharing.
In Japan, more and more techno-geeks get enthusiastic in crowd-funding campaigns trumpeting “This is an innovative device to share ______ with others!”. They invest on, use and wear them, bustling around the city to harvest as much as resources and earn meagre money by sharing them. Depending on the market, the environment, and his own physical condition, one’s saving projection whirl in a second as well as his own worth. Dreaming to be those who live off ‘Sharing’, Professional Sharers can only sacrifice their meagre resources to earn just enough money to live.
In the exhibition, a documentary film and some objects will be shown. I hope this project encourages us to think more of the implication of this idea of sharing and our our pursuit of it.