A Sharing Culture

For years, the world has been plagued by a disease that has changed the lives of the rich and poor. Finally, a vaccine has been developed that prevents the disease from affecting any more lives. Just imagine how much that vaccine was worth to its creator. In the case of polio, Jonas Salk refused to patent his vaccine out of a concern for humanity. Albert Sabin followed Salk in not seeing a patent for his vaccine.

Both Salk and Sabin were not only pioneers in vaccine development, but also of a sharing culture. Broadly described, a sharing culture is one in which the creators and owners of assets provide access to those assets to others at no cost. Not included in a sharing culture are those who provide access to the assets of others without their permission.

What’s driving the sharing culture? Certainly for Salk and Sabin, it was a humanitarian concern. But what about those who share their creative works on a social media channel such as YouTube? Some may have hopes of “being discovered”, but for most it’s just enjoying knowing that others viewed their creations.

In other cases, the sharing culture is based upon the reality that free and open access to creative works encourages developments that would never have happened otherwise. Software development is an example. Firefox is open source web browser that can aide anyone in web development.

The sharing culture is also a protest movement against restrictive ownership and unjustifiable pricing. Faculty are rebelling against the high prices of textbooks and providing their own learning resources to students free of charge.

The sharing culture is also a social movement where land owners, restaurants, equipment operators and others share unused or underrated assets with those who have limited means to support themselves or to purchase assets to better themselves.

Then there are professionals who share their expertise to those who could not afford the expertise otherwise. Examples include free health clinics, mental health counseling, income tax preparation, and career mentors.

Why has the sharing culture grown? There are perhaps many reasons, but maybe the underlying reason can be summed up in one word: purpose. People want to feel there is a purpose in their lives. They want to make a difference for which the only return is a memory of gratitude.

All of us can be a part of the sharing culture. Just imagine what you can share with others.

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“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank

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