This book aims to recast sharing as a category of design. Many animals share resources. But no known animal is able to approach the scale and complexity that characterize human sharing. Furthermore, Homo Sapiens may be the only species that is uniquely capable of synchronous sharing and designing: we are the only species capable of creating new sharing configurations or systems when they cease to work for us; we are able to deliberate among ourselves and then design a better configuration that entails more effective or efficient sharing, or else, where sharing is practiced in more equitable or beautiful ways.
Sharing may appear intuitive. But designing social configurations and systems for the sustained sharing of knowledge and resources is hardly intuitive at all: it is a cognitively complex and socially challenging task, often subjected to internal tensions and external threats. This book attempts to demonstrate how to design sharing from a systems design perspective in the face of complexity and challenges.
Present research on sharing tends to focus on the Sharing Economy. This focus is justifiable considering that in an important pre-Covid-19 report, the Sharing Economy was anticipated to grow to an estimated global revenue of nearly $335 billion (US Dollar) by 2025. But the Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things, including once unassailable drivers of global economic growth. Major bulwarks of the growing Sharing Economy—shared housing, shared workspaces, and shared mobility—have all suffered major setbacks. While these sharing practices have been shunned because of the pandemic, people have yet to abandon the idea of sharing. Despite great odds, individuals and communities continue to share knowledge and resources for fighting the pandemic. Cities continue to learn from other cities in order to create shared standards that can improve public health everywhere. This book argues for the substantive idea of sharing against the contingent formulation of sharing as the Sharing Economy. The time for engaging with this substantive idea of sharing has come, and it begins by thinking on how to design even more robust sharing configurations in a milieu likely to be threatened by scarcity and isolationism.
This book comprises of seven chapters. After connecting sharing and design in the introduction, the authors provide a critical assessment of sharing in the Sharing Economy. The third chapter introduces the idea of sharing by design by offering two concise case studies on the co-living and co-housing sharing models respectively. The next chapter explicates the process of designing a sharing system. Key components of a sharing system are identified through Systems Theory and are then contextualized within a sharing system. Subsequently, the following chapter dissects the idea of sharing ethics. No account of systems theory is also ever complete without a discussion of how a system could be perpetuated. For this reason, the sixth chapter shows how to communicate ideas of sharing to a next generation of students through demonstrating the ways that sharing could be taught in an architectural and urban design studio setting. Finally, in the conclusion, existing knowledge gaps and future research directions on the important subject of sharing are discussed.