First Click: why own a few things when you can borrow everything?

March 26th, 2015


I look forward to the day I can pass down my record collection to my kids. By “records” I mean playlists, and by “pass down” I mean tell them my password.

I’ll be dead when that day comes, but it warms my heart to imagine them deciphering my meticulously prepared tagging system. “What’s ‘grunge,’” they’ll perplex, tears streaming down their middle-aged faces as they remember my fondness for unkempt plaids. I just hope they don’t lapse on the subscription payments else my life’s work will vanish into an ephemeral cloud from which all bits stream.

Music ownership is dead, already. iTunes, the great disrupter of physical CDs, has been disrupted by Spotify streams. Once the vanguard of digital consumption tastes, Apple is now the increasingly frail stalwart of the quaint download-to-own model. TV and movies aren't purchased, they're streamed over Netflix. Instant gratification is the value spawned by pervasive connectivity: why own a few things when you can borrow everything and have it right now?

But it’s not just media — the concept of ownership is dead or dying. Increasingly we lease our cars and rent our homes, and then rent them again as Uber taxis and Airbnbs in a sort of divestment uroboros. Art and even your entire wardrobe can be rented, too. We give away our most personal of information in exchange for the use of “free” services like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope, and Gmail. Our personas are now #brands we must market with the same gusto applied to tacos.

We’re the new reality stars in a Portlandia satire — and I’m ok with that.

Five stories to start your day

  1. Trent Reznor is reportedly leading the redesign of Beats Music for Apple

    Nine Inch Nails frontman, Oscar-winning soundtrack composer, and new Apple employee Trent Reznor appears to be no mere figurehead over in Cuptertino. According to a new report from The New York Times, Reznor has been given a "major role" in redesigning the Beats Music service that Apple purchased last year. While there weren't many details on what exactly Reznor is working on, he was described as the "point man" for Apple's efforts at relaunching Beats Music under its own brand.

  2. Periscope, Twitter's answer to Meerkat live-streaming, is now available

    Periscope arrives today on iPhone, with streams also viewable on the web. (An Android version is forthcoming.) Like Meerkat, it allows you to broadcast whatever you’re doing — whether it’s breaking news or making breakfast — live, through video, with a couple of taps. Unlike Meerkat, Periscope can save streams so that you can replay them later. It turns out to be Periscope’s killer feature — and the main reason that it’s likely to become my live-streaming platform of choice.

  3. Watch SpaceX test its amazing SuperDraco rockets from a few feet away

    The Space Shuttle was cool in action, but on paper it sounded like a particularly capacious way to get to work in the mornings. Spaceships should really have cooler names. Elon Musk's SpaceX understands this — the private company's newest Dragon craft is equipped with four SuperDraco pods, each with two engines that belch vast plumes of fire that could help the manned module separate in the case of emergency. Were it up to NASA, I bet they'd have called SpaceX's upcoming craft "the Big Flying Bus," or "Sky Subway."

  4. There are now way too many Lego movies in the works

    The Lego Movie was surprisingly effective at bringing the iconic brick toys to the big screen. Unfortunately, as is often the case, Hollywood is really going to beat the franchise into the ground until we're all sick of it.

  5. Jamie XX shares his new track Loud Places, featuring The xx's Romy Croft

    So what keeps a Jamie xx song featuring Romy from just being an xx song? The answer is obvious enough once the song hits its first peak, a perfect deployment of a sample and hand claps, elevating Romy's whispery vocal to something warmer and universal. While xx songs tend to look inward, Jamie's solo production reaches out to the crowd, finding some quietude in even the loudest of places.

Rental of the day

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