A sharespace, in the narrow sense, would be a physical space for the sharing of resources and/or ideas between interested parties. More generally speaking, it could be any physical space devoted to sharing, cooperation and non-commercial practices.
A sharespace would be similar to a hackerspace - the primary difference being an emphasis on sharing, mutual aid, and an explicit goal of fostering non-commercial practices and relationships. Some hackerspaces may indeed embrace an ethos of mutual aid and sharing already, but they are not inherent in either the term or the culture - hence the distinction. Sharespaces are also distinct from social centres - see below for more details.
A sharespace is intended to be only a small part of a much larger social framework - a framework which depends on trust and indirect reciprocity, rather than money or exchange.
Scope & function
For eligible members, a sharespace is:
- a storage space - an area where tools, equipment, materials and components can be stored
- a resource library - from which tools and equipment may be temporarily taken from the space for a period (for jobs/tasks which can not be carried out in the space itself)
- a work area
- a forum in which to explore ways of consolidating these and similar non-commercial ventures.
A particular space may fulfill only one or two of the above functions, while others may serve purposes beyond those listed here (e.g. some might be used partly for commercial purposes also). Just as their countless activities that fall within the scope of non-commercial culture, sharespaces could fulfill a wide and diverse range of functions.
Non-members may benefit from some of these facilities - but not all. Alternatively, it may be that they have to pay to use tools, etc..
Ideally, each member would have their own set of keys, and would be able to access the space 24 hours a day. It is realized that this may not be feasible in all cases however.
In order to meet real-world demands, people may in some cases choose to establish "semi-commercial" spaces. I.e. in some cases a space may fulfill both commercial and non-commercial functions. The use of a space partly for commercial purposes does not necessarily preclude its use for sharing purposes also - and such compromises may be necessary in some cases.
How each space operates is left to the discretion of its members.
Membership is not necessarily based on payment of fees. It is, more likely, to be based on character assessment and the suitability of the individual - e.g. the extent to which they actually aspire to sharing and mutual aid. In certain cases, in attempting to discern suitability, inquiries may be made in to applicants' past activities and associations.
Given the potential value of the resources which may be stored in these spaces, and given the level of time, energy and investment which people would be investing in such projects, it would be careless and irresponsible to grant people access without prior examination of their character and trustworthiness. Thus, reasonably stringent criteria may be necessary.
If applicants are commercially active in the project area or using the resources of the project for making profit, this would be an exclusion criterion in my view. Ibu
- Hi ibu. Personally, I think that might be too stringent a criteria. As I have mentioned in a separate context, I think some sort of "compromise" is necessary in the present. Would you mind if I moved these comments to the discussion page at some point? David
Comparison to other models
While the idea of a sharespace may bear resemblences to or overlap with other ideas, there is a significant distinction. This is not a criticism of these models - merely an explanation of the differences. In highlighting these differences, we hope to demonstrate why a different sort of model is needed.
Most social centres do espouse some sort of non-commercial outlook. This is usually not emphasised to the same extent, however, and they seldom focus on direct cooperation and sharing.
Similarly, hackerspaces may fulfill one or two of the same functions as a sharespace, but don't emphasise sharing or mutual aid.
No such spaces which already exist are known by the author(s). There are, however, similar projects run by state organisations.
The Berkeley Tool Lending Library in California, US - although somewhat different to what is proposed here in that it is state-controlled and has quite different membership criteria - more-or-less implements some of these ideas.
The Santa Rosa Tool Library is very similar to the one in Berkeley (and also nearby).
An online inventory could be maintained - similar to those maintained at neighborgoods.net, etc.. This could perhaps even be designed to indicate which member is currently in possession of a particular tool, when it is due back at the space, etc.. This would enable people to check the availability of tools and equipment even when they are away from the space - and could make the operation considerably more efficient.
In a wider context
We want to know if it is possible for human potential to flourish outside commercial culture, and - if so - to help that happen.