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Sharing Economy and the Internet

The term sharing economy originally grew out of the open source community, which referred to peer-to-peer transactions of goods and services for the benefit of its community and often without monetary exchange. But the term has evolved to become a generally accepted misnomer and umbrella term for all kinds of online marketplaces. More apt terms have included platform, short-term rental, individual contract, and “access economies.” Instead of being a platform for collaborative community efforts, most sharing economy enterprises are for-profit businesses that charge a fee to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions.

The first generation of Internet companies, such as Amazon.com, attempted to replace brick-and-mortar stores with online shopping and warehouse delivery. Now, the next generation is upending consumer industries altogether. Neoclassical economists have long based their models ...

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