Sharing is the joint use of a resource or space. In its narrow sense, it refers to joint or alternating use of an inherently finite good, such as a common pasture or a shared residence. It is also the process of dividing and distributing. Apart from obvious instances, which we can observe in human activity, we can also find many examples of this happening naturally in nature. When an organism takes in nutrition or oxygen for instance, its internal organs are designed to divide and distribute the energy taken in, to supply parts of its body that need it. Flowers divide and distribute their seeds. In a broader sense, it can also include the free granting of use rights to a good that is capable of being treated as a nonrival good, such as information. Still more loosely, “sharing” can actually mean giving something as an outright gift: for example, to “share” one's food really means to give some of it as a gift.
Sharing in the Marketplace
Sharing disjoints the connection between usage and ownership of a product. Products are often sold because a buyer intends to use the product or the buyer intends to sell it to someone who will use it, thus sharing a product may reduce the product's demand by reducing the number of people who intend to acquire it in order to use it. Though sharing is touted as an economical and environmental aid to the public(carpooling, shared apartments, etc.), some businesses perceive it as a threat because of its assumed effect on their profitability. This has resulted in protection laws(like copyright provisions such as denying owners the right to perform or display the work publicly) to curb sharing. The effect on profitability is difficult if not impossible to assess because it relies on making sweeping assumptions about public behavior including individual decision making differences, buyers only convinced to buy after using a friend's product, and the effect on the sales of compliment products. Sharing figures prominently in gift economies, but also can play a significant role in market economies, for example in car sharing. Share housing is a common and informally negotiated example of sharing of householders' labour, (for example, in the form of housework) and communal household goods.
Sharing in Computer Science
The issue of handling shared resources figures prominently in computer science: for example time-sharing is an approach to interactive computing in which a single computer is used to provide apparently simultaneous interactive general-purpose computing to multiple users by sharing processor time. Sharing is a key feature in the developing field of free software and open source software, with implications for economics. This is leading to a need to review licensing, patents and copyright, and to controversy in these areas, as well as new approaches like Creative Commons and the GPL.
- 1. a. trans. To divide and apportion in shares between two or more recipients. Obs. or arch.
- b. Now chiefly with out.
- c. To apportion to an individual as his share. Also with out. arch.
- d. To divide (what one has or receives) into portions, and give shares to others as well as one's self. Const. with.
- e. To divide into parts or shares. rare.
- f. refl. To divide one's service, devotion, etc. between (two different objects). Obs.
- 2. Of two or more persons: To divide into shares and take each a portion. Also absol.
- 3. a. To grant or give another or others a share in. Also const. with.
- b. nonce-use. To cause (one thing) to share its place with another.
- 4. a. To receive, possess, or occupy together with others.
- b. fig. (with a thing as subject.)
- c. To receive or possess (a portion allotted to one); to take or receive as one's share. poet. Obs.
- d. to share from: to gain at the expense of.
- e. to share alone: incorrectly, to possess unshared.
- f. Chem. Of an atom, orbital, etc.: to hold (one or more electrons) in common with another atom or orbital, so as to form a covalent bond. (See also SHARED ppl. a.)
- 5. To participate in (an action, activity, opinion, feeling, or condition); to perform, enjoy, or suffer in common with others; to possess (a quality) which other persons or things also have. Const. with.
- 6. a. intr. To have a share (in something); to participate in, to take part in.
- b. To participate with (a person) in something. (? Obs.) rare.
- c. To partake of. Obs. rare.
- d. To be equal with. Obs. rare1.
- Yochai Benkler, Sharing Nicely: On Shareable Goods and the Emergence of Sharing as a Modality of Economic Production, Yale Law Journal, Vol. 114, 273-358 (PDF)
- Oxford English Dictionary
- Bruce Perens (2005). “The Emerging Economic Paradigm of Open Source”. Retrieved October 25, 2005.