Cybernews podcast #34: ownership in the digital age

DVDs are no longer being crammed into TV cabinets, CDs are not overspilling their holders, and newspapers no longer clutter recycling bins. Everything’s on the cloud, and it’s oh so convenient. But is our stuff actually safe? And what about the emotional connection to our items?

Do you own – as in have physical copies of – a movie collection, music, TV shows, games, books? Sure, you’d say – some. But we have fewer items every day – this is the age of the digital, the age of the subscription.

We have moved from an economy of ownership to an economy of access. In the not-too-distant past, owning a lot of things was seen as a status symbol. If you could afford a houseful of goods, the reasoning went, then you were doing well – and everyone could see it.

Today, however, the needle has shifted. People still want to have things, but they aren’t so concerned about owning them. And indeed, physical items are usually more expensive, both to buy and to keep. Maintenance is also annoying.

One worldwide survey of 13,000 people recently revealed that more than half of respondents wished they could own less stuff.

Owning less is all very neat and clean, but what happens when the service provider suddenly removes content from your library for one reason or another? Well, it’s very simple – you will own none of these things.

Actually, we don’t even own digital items now. The retailers’ terms of service mostly say we are licensing digital content, not buying it.

From the business point of view, it’s quite smart: they hook us to a service and then make us pay for it regularly, making tons of money along the way. Sure, we can still hoard stuff the old-fashioned way – but who among us would bother, really?

In the latest episode of the Cybernews podcast, we discuss:

  • The concept of ownership in the subscription economy and what happens to nostalgia
  • Owned items as symbols of status – the times they are a-changin'
  • Smart long-term planning by tech companies – regular fees bring lots of cash
  • Ways to avoid overspending – it’s still possible with a little effort
  • The need to be able to trade or lend your digital copies of movies, games, or music albums to a friend

“The technological solutions are there. But why would companies be interested in providing them if they don't get anything out of it? An opportunity for you to resell your stuff may even make you more money than you initially paid, but Amazon would just want more people to buy those copies from them, and only from them,” says Jurgita Lapienytė, the editor-in-chief of Cybernews

More from Cybernews:

US federal employee data leaked, claimed by hacker trio

Airlines apps might know more than you think

Meta updates its video player

Benetton Group claimed by Hunters International ransomware gang

Fiery ball of Chinese space junk lights up California night sky

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