From Barter Practice to Zero Marginal Cost


Since its debut, the World Wide Web has already affirmed itself as “system” with neither limits nor borders and today, after a few decades have passed since its entry in man life, it has become so much increasingly influencial to shape, with its infinite greatness, behaviours and habits of individuals. Since ancient times, and long after them, the economic model had been based on the trade of (material )goods, or, if you say that according to Simmel, on the “exchange of sacrifices”, where, its primordial form was par excellence represented by the barter practice, but, also in this case, in the mind of “do ut des”, that is of the “exchange”. On the other hand, Internet has been disrupting this logic of behaviour and it has been crucially contributing to impose a new practice of behaviour which is “condivision”. If you call it “collaborative consumption”, or, if you let yourself be fascinated by the Anglo-Saxon phonetics, “sharing economy”, anyway you are referring to a model based on the negation of possession or, I may be induced to name it “virtual possession”, where, in an egalitarian way, the “users” (digitised consumers) and the “prosumers” (producers and – at the same time – consumers) have started to share a real heritage which they produced or made available to others through file sharing services as You Tube, Emule, Wikipedia and all the large scene of social media. Rifkin calls this “zero marginal cost” and it has been imposing as highly sustainable model of “egualitarian condivision” which is no more based on possession of goods, but on their “loan”. It is certain this transformation has had important consequences and will keep having in the future for those who think this liminal phase between virtuality and reality can be solved by a digitised consumer, but who is still oriented to an old model of consumption of material goods. The importance of concepts particularly close to sustainability such as territory and condivision will be the element which will characterize a new economic system which will offer the possibility of exchanging – without sacrificing – “vital energy” (consisting in emotions, opinions, information… ) with your “neighbour” which has become close to you in a digitised and globalized world in a sustainable way: that means with zero impact at both environmental and economic level. For this reason, it is important – in this period of transition – being stakeholders with the awareness of an identity which is firmly-rooted in the local territory, being at the same time responsible and conscious, in order to be prepared to face a world of boundless possibilities without getting lost…  

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