IPS Digital Frontiers Seminar: “The Power of Self-solving in the Singapore Digital Village: Sharing Economy as a Case Study”


Many economic and sociological theories operate on one key assumption — human beings are rational individuals who organise themselves to overcome scarcities in their environment so as to enhance their well-being. Premised on this principle is the idea of Singapore as a digital village, as proposed by IPS Research Fellow Carol Soon, where people use technology to solve common problems collectively. In a traditional village, exchanging resources and providing support are part and parcel of village life. Today, technologies such as social media and peer-to-peer sharing platforms have enabled large-scale sharing.

This seminar focuses on microcosms of digital villages — online communities where people from different backgrounds are brought together by a common desire to solve problems for themselves instead of relying on the authorities. These microcosms exist in different forms, one of which is the sharing economy. Sharing economies are ground up efforts; they are economic systems founded on people’s sharing of underused assets or services for free or for a fee. People’ participation is often driven by their desire to overcome problems ranging from environmental (reducing pollution and minimising wastage) to productivity issues.

There are different types of sharing economies such as redistribution markets (social networks which enable used or pre-owned goods to be redistributed from where they are not needed to where they are needed, e.g., the Singapore Freecycle Network); product service systems (where the product is owned by a company or an individual and multiple users share its benefits, e.g., ZipCar); and collaborative lifestyles (where people of similar interests exchange assets such as time, space and skills, e.g., Couchsurfing). Research shows that people are increasingly open to sharing and exchanging resources, both material and non-material. In a 2014 report by Nielsen, 68% of global respondents were willing to share or rent their personal assets for financial gain, and were likely to utilise products and services from others, with those from Asia-Pacific being most willing to do so.

What are the emerging trends in Singapore’s context? What motivates people to organise themselves in order to solve problems? How successful are these efforts and what are some of the challenges encountered by innovators and participants? How can such microcosms of the digital village contribute to nation-building? What role does the government play? This seminar brings together experts, researchers, innovators, policymakers and the private sector to discuss these issues.

Please click here to view the programme.

About the IPS Digital Frontiers Seminar:

This series of seminars is based on the idea that new technologies have reached a point that has suddenly opened the doors for novel ways of doing things, be it in the social, political, economic and even research arenas. The seminars in the series are:



If you have any enquiries, please contact Ms Nur Zahidah at tel: 6601-1420  or via email:

Friday, 18 September 2015
2.30 pm – 5.00 pm (Registration begins at 2.00 pm)

Conference Room, Level 1, Oei Tiong Ham Building Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy National University of Singapore (Bukit Timah Campus)