Master-Workshop «Citizen Share»

by Armin Blasbichler

Fueled by technological progress we can observe a shift from centralized capitalist economies to decentralized resource-based commons. Access to goods and services without the implications of ownership, give rise to what is being called the «share economy». The effects of this ongoing social and technological transition promise to unfold the potential for humanity to re-structure society and move from a system of scarcity and control to one of (global) abundance and access.


As humans we are inclined to look after the things we own. We care, because we attribute value to them. In contrast, and entangled in the framework of consumer capitalism, the practice of ‘planned obsolescence’, marked the early fateful liaison between design, business and the consumer. The concept of strategic failure for the benefit of all, pervaded society as a whole. Rather then to endure – whether it is a light bulb, a relationship or a financial system – things ought to fail to be legitimized; a methodology more akin to a marriage impostor than to a sustainable social system. The shift towards open-source and collaborative peer production, which enables us to share all kinds of products, services, skills, knowledge and more, might correct this rationale.

Products of and for multiple users are exposed to intense use and require reliability, resilience, repairability, modularity, responsibility, and communication platforms as well as logistics infrastructures, which allow adequate interaction. Popular online businesses like Uber, AirBnB and alike, thrive on nearly zero-cost-technologies and threaten profit schemes of traditional industries. Simultaneously they insinuate a digital feudalism to which we concede ourselves more and more. Collaborative consumption pledges to make the ‘coincidence of wants’ – the basic problem of barter – more likely and thus challenge even mediums of exchange, i.e. money.

It seems as if we move into a future by looking in the rear view mirror, as all these apparently new modes of production and exchange reflect a modus operandi of ancient civilizations. In the workshop series we want to explore how to design for a world in ‘abundance of scarcity’.