What is a Shares Network?

Shares network” is a nice short phrase for a complex topic, because this simple combination of the root words share and net can mean multiple things at the same time, all of them equally valid. Here’s a few examples of what a shares network could mean for you:

    • Have you ever carpooled or joined a ride share program? Then you are part of a network of drivers and passengers, who can each share driving or maintenance cost responsibilities within your network as needed.
    • You can create a dynamic private library of all your own and your neighbors’ media collections. You can always get your own books or discs back when you need them, but you can also gain access to other friends’ books and discs by sharing your own equally.
    • Your personal space and time can be shared exclusively with a close network of friends and neighbors, who will return the favor by sharing their own space and time at the next local event. If any of these events are potlucks, then there’s a network of food and recipe sharing happening as well. We usually call these “parties” for fun!
    • Unless you are a full-time professional contractor or Etsy seller, the craft and maintenance tools you have around your home probably aren’t being used often enough to wear down at all. Instead of everyone constantly buying new tools as new projects and problems arise, a network of nearby neighbors can freely borrow these tools from each other, only as they are needed.
    • A digital network with resources like computers, storage, and bandwidth can be shared on an equal basis — without paying for anything except your own hardware and maintenance costs. The global Internet connection industry calls this “peering”, and they save a lot of money by ignoring the details of who sent what over their Internet mesh connections among equal peers. It all tends to balance out over time.
  • Corporate shares are papers proving that you own a piece of a company, big or small. Owning a piece of another big pool of resources, like a private library or a co-working office space, could be regarded as owning shares in those resources too. In this case, a shares network could be any connections between the people who own shares in the same resource pool, like a hobby space or a buyers club.

There’s constantly new services in the news that claim to be part of the big new sharing economy, but are they really? If you use AirBnB to find a place to stay, Uber to find a ride, or ZipCar to borrow a vehicle, then aren’t you just paying a new kind of provider for an old kind of service? New network technologies enable connecting these new and more diverse providers to service requesters, a lot more efficiently than the old hotels and taxis of the past, but can you really call this sharing?

NELA Shares Network (NELA-Shares.Net for short) is a new kind of non-profit cooperative service to enable real, safe, and efficient sharing among friends and neighbors in your own community. We can use new network software to track everything you want to share, make sure all borrowers are sharing back with you fairly, and generally give you better connections to your closest friends and neighbors. We have to charge a small membership fee to build and maintain all this sharing infrastructure, as well as for any provided hardware and extra services, but we’re non-profit so you will never pay more than our services actually cost each year. If you don’t like how our shares network is being run, you will have a chance to vote for new leadership every couple of years. Your membership practically makes you part-owner of the sharing cooperative! Join today to start really sharing.

3 Replies to “What is a Shares Network?”

  1. Pingback: Data Roads, Sharing Networks, and DIY Movements. « Data Roads Foundation

  2. Hi,
    I just signed up for the LA Mesh Network Meetup. I’m very interested in joining\supporting. Is the $15\mo the fee to have internet access? Is there a min QoS in terms of download\uploads speeds at this point? Is there any access points in the Encino\Sh. Oaks area at this time?


    • Sorry for the slow reply here. I recommend looking at the Local-Shares.Net project, and donating there if you’re interested in starting a Mesh Network Cooperative in your own neighborhood. You are pretty far outside the NELA area, and every local mesh should have some self-determination, via their own democratic cooperatives and board membership.

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