Brittle agreements

Sometimes it is just the right call. This week it was from the Leap Research which is interested in interviewing me, paying me* and talking with me  about sharing.

It is sweet because i think a lot about sharing.  I actually think sharing is one of the very few things we can do to get ourselves out of this terrible jam we are in.  But we do it badly, because we make brittle agreements.

what does not bend breaks - Ani

Let’s pretend i am a generous sort.  You come to me and ask to borrow my car, i throw you the keys and dont think about it again.

You return later and i notice that the car is scratched.

Distressed i say “Hey, what happened to the car?”

You reply, “i went to the east side of town and it looks like someone scratched it intentionally, i did not see it happen”

“You went to the east side of town?!” i gasp, “of course you got damaged on the east side of town, everyone knows the east side is too dangerous.  I am never going to lend you my car again.  Your judgement is so poor i am never going to lend you anything again.”  And thus shatters the relationship – trust, possibility, mutual aid, all shards on the floor, probably never to be rebuilt.

Stuff gets banged up, lost, stolen, worn out, etc.  If we are going to use sharing to get us out of this mess, we need to become experts in flexible agreements.  We need to build in contingencies to make everyone feel taken car of.

Let’s continue our example and say that i, the negligent borrower, dont have much money. i cant afford to offer to pay for the scratch to be fixed (and dont really think it is that big a deal, it is not like the car does not have some other serious scratches in it).  But i want to do something to make it better, to make it right and there are a dozen ways we could go.  But our collective culture most commonly is that we dont do this investigation, it is a hassle, we prefer to be dismissive and judgmental (i am all about judgmental by the way) .

At the commune, we dont care so much about the appearance of the vehicles, perhaps another manifestation of us being either more evolved or poorer than our Babylonian counterparts.  If there is an accident with one of our cars, the first questions “is everyone okay?” and we often never make it to the second questions about the condition of the vehicle, it just does matter that much.

I have a lot to say about what we have learned about sharing from our vehicles system and our bike system and our free clothes lending library.  We have learned about how to beat hording, and how to run dual semi-permeable systems and how to adjust  control points in sharing systems to fine tune sharing systems to perform better.  And this is already a long post so more is to come.

Just thought i would share.

* While they will be “paying me” $150 for an hour interview, the money will go to the commune and i will get labor credits for the work.  They found me because i am here, not because i am a world-renowned sharer – not yet anyway.