Imperfect Periodical

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Age of Access

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Not too long ago I was spending time with a friend at the LA arboretum. While strolling the grounds she told me that once she’s made it she’s going to have an estate as big as the park is. I quickly challenged the notion.

“Why would you want to pay the upkeep on all that land? Just build a house on the edge of a forest. Same effect-lower cost.”

Welcome to the end of ownership and the age at access. For generations now we’ve been sold on the dream that ownership is everything. Without property a man is nothing. It is how we measure worth. Keep score. Determine one’s place in the pecking order.

Of course, it has led to a culture of hoarders and reality TV shows about people who buy abandoned storage lots at auction. All this owning has bent in on itself like a consumer singularity. Even the word has become distorted: pwn.

We can even double down on the irony. On Hollywood’s night of nights- The Oscars- the most glamorous stars, the people every one wants to be, aren’t even wearing her own clothes. Everything’s borrowed. So what makes the difference? Why don’t we look askance at these fashionably decorated bums?

Because the true measure of cultural cache isn’t what you own-it’s what you have access to.

I don’t need physical copies of my CDs if I can access the music from any device. l shouldn’t have to buy PAC-MAN six times over (not counting when it is totally remade). I should be able to pay once and access forever. Buy into a tool library. Extract more value from fewer physical objects.
Zip cars. Community gardens. Catering kitchens inside condo complexes.

This is the mark of the new wealth. A rebirth of the commons. Environmentally saner and a hell at a lot less expensive to boot.

As the real cost of the goods we use and the materials we consume begin to get passed down to us, we will come to truly see just how wasteful our culture is. As luck would have it, we have an alternative waiting in the wings.

Written by njnelson

April 25, 2011 at 9:00 am

Posted in PhilosophyGuy

Tagged with , ,