Saturday, April 23, 2011

Getting Enmeshed in The Mesh

I may be the only blogger out there who hasn't written something about the glories and potential and profits to be made from "collaborative consumption" - i.e capitalism meets sharing.  But here goes...

A while back I received a review copy of Lisa Gansky's The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing.  At the time I wasn't sure what to make of it.  I have to admit I'm a bit of skeptic (some might say "fuddy duddy" or worse) when it comes to books describing how to make millions from the latest trends. And the breathless style of this book did nothing to allay my concerns.

So, several months went by and the book sat around.  After having read the umpteenth blog post about Rachel Botsman, I picked up Gansky's book again and started reading.  Once I got past the first few chapters that read like Gansky had just discovered the secret power of the universe, I found the book had lots of useful ideas and is well worth taking a look at.

Basically "the mesh" refers to how networked we are and how to take advantage of web and mobile networks to run businesses to share stuff (physical goods) or provide news and recommendations through social networks (electronic word-of-mouth).  Gansky says the sweet spot for mesh-able goods are those that are "high cost and frequently used" (but I would add, not too frequently used, or people will want to own them).

So obviously carsharing fits right in to this description of "mesh" transportation, and Zipcar is duly noted early on in the book.  But it also applies to the various attempts to use the web and mobile phone tools to take "causual carpooling" beyond it's non-automated roots in "slugging".  The Mesh web site has an interesting list of mesh transportation services.

So, as I say, the book makes some good points that you may find useful.  It's a prime candidate for reading using one of the early pre-internet mesh services — the public library.  In the meantime, you can get a sense of the book's style which I had such a hard time getting past in this free Mesh Manifesto pdf. Enjoy.