Jane Park, June 10th, 2010
Last week, Shareable—the online magazine about sharing culture—launched a survey asking you how much you share. The survey contributed to CC’s Catalyst Campaign, which is continuing through the month of June. This week, CC talks with Shareable co-founder and publisher, Neal Gorenflo.
The caption for Shareable is “Design for a shareable world.” “Design” is a huge buzz word nowadays — what do you mean by “design”? What is the purpose or mission of the magazine and how does it relate to openness?
The word “design” signals intent. We write about those who intentionally design for shareability, whether they be an entrepreneur creating a product service system like carsharing or a parent creating a babysitting co-op in their neighborhood. And we host discussion about how to make different facets of the world more shareable.
Like Creative Commons, Shareable acts on the idea that sharing is not merely nice, but essential to our ability to create, thus survive as a species. As in the digital world, so is it in the material world—our ability to change depends on sharing and openness.
Our mission at Shareable is to help people share. We write about the sharing lifestyle with lots of How-to’s. And we report on the emergence of a new society based on the logic of sharing to inspire action. We think sharing is one of the best ways to cope with the social, economic and environmental crises we face.
What led you to start Shareable? As the publisher, what exactly do you do?
I didn’t have a choice. I saw from the inside how the global economy worked. And how it felt to live out its value system. From these experiences, I saw that it was moving us toward collapse. I also wanted a better life for myself. I found the earn-and-spend-life meaningless, not to mention incredibly boring. I took a year off in 2004 to find a purpose for my life. That eventually lead to the founding of Shareable.
Wow, the title ‘publisher’ sounds old fashioned. Maybe I should change my title. Any suggestions? Whatever the title, my job is to attract talented people to the project and help them succeed. A lot of the time that means staying out of the way. But it also means raising money and helping our stakeholders reach consensus on important decisions.
Can you give us an example of a story that would be Shareable (aka particularly compelling for your magazine)?
Dude, Where’s Our Car? is the Hightower family’s struggle to survive the Great Recession, how they use sharing, not always enthusiastically at first, to create a new life, one with less stuff and more satisfaction. It talks about the surprising results of giving up the prized family car, the last vestige of their identity as high-powered consumers. It’s a Shareable classic because it’s a poignant story of transformation with practical how-to advice.
Shareable readers also value our social enterprise pieces like Would You Share Your Car With A Stranger?, which is about the rise of peer-to-peer car sharing. And our Shareable Cities series epitomized by Can Cities Be Designed for Happiness?.
Shareable is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA. Why did you guys go with this particular license? What does the CC license enable that traditional copyright cannot? How has CC changed or contributed to the sharing landscape?
We went with the CC BY-NC-SA license because not all of Shareable contributors are OK with commercial use of their work. Our CC license is incredibly useful. It gives anyone permission to share our work without needing to ask, which is exactly what we as a mission-driven nonprofit want our readers to do. So please dear readers, republish our stories!
Creative Commons has had a huge impact on sharing by making it cool, and for telling the sometimes scary truth in a capitalist society—that we need sharing to survive.
What’s this I hear about Shareable paying people $10 to take a survey, and that the money may be donated to Creative Commons or the Project for Public Spaces?
Yes, guilty as charged. Shareable and Latitude Research are doing what might be the first ever sharing industry survey. The point of the survey is to uncover actionable insight that can help accelerate the growth of the sharing industry.
Want to help? Then please take the survey. At the end of the survey, you can chose to donate your $10 incentive to Creative Commons.*
Are there any last thoughts you’d like to share with the CC community, or the world?
Sharing is the killer app. We live in a time of interrelated social, economic, and environmental crisis. We can not treat these crises separately. We need systemic interventions like sharing. Sharing is arguably the most effective form of resource use reduction, not to mention it can build social solidarity, alleviate poverty by increasing access to resources, and grow service jobs at home.