Access is better than ownership!

January 22, 2009

kevinkelly

Again a remarkable blog post by Kevin Kelly. In his text titled “Better than owning” Kevin calls the Internet the “magic rental store” and asks: “If you lived inside of the world’s largest rental store, why would you own anything?”
We are on a way to the “Age of Access” i fully agree.

Here are some quotes of his best arguments:

“The request to enjoy a work is thus separated from the more complicated choice of whether I want to “own” it. I can consume a movie, music or book without having to decide or follow up on ownership.”

(…)

“For many people this type of instant universal access is better than owning. No responsibility of care, backing up, sorting, cataloging, cleaning, or storage.  As they gain in public accessibility, books, music and movies are headed to become social goods even though they might not be paid by taxes.”

(…)

“Our sense of ownership is a funny thing. If you purchase an ebook and download the book’s PDF file to your computer, you’d say you owned it, and expect the rights of ownership. However if you went to a link where a PDF of a book was opened on your screen for free and automatically, you might not feel you owned this book, even if it was copied to your disk. Possession of a copy turns out to be less important in the feeling of ownership than does the price. Free things don’t generate strong feelings of ownership. Gifts do, which we think of as “free,” but our sense of ownership is related to their “replacement costs” – how much they would cost us to buy elsewhere, their market value. If an item has a marketplace cost of zero, we tend not to feel we own it. So as more economic activity gravitates toward the free, less will feel owned. As more is shared, less will act like property.”

(…)

“The downside to the traditional rental business is the “rival” nature of physical goods. Rival means that there is a zero-sum game; only one rival prevails. If I am renting your boat, no one else can. (…) But of course, intangible goods and services don’t work this way. They are “non-rival” which means you can rent the same movie to as many people who want to rent it this hour. Sharing intangibles scales magnificently. This ability to share on a large scale without diminishing the satisfaction of the individual renter is transformative. The total cost of use drops precipitously (shared by millions instead of one). Suddenly, ownership is not so important.  Why own, when you get the same utility from renting, leasing, licensing, sharing?”

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One Response to “Access is better than ownership!”


  1. That is an awesome article. And the comments add an additional dimension to the discussion, very worth reading.


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