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Jonathan Tsai
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Auren the prophet (or oracle?)! These are interesting insights extrapolated from your analysis of current observed trends/directions, but this is a fairly huge prediction. Overall a well written article, shared with some friends and on Facebook. I would agree with the article's general sentiment, but I see a lot of exceptions or what-ifs and dependencies in which a single slight change could alter the course of your prediction dramatically. I raise the same issue as Tim Dick--do you see this limited along particular dimensions? If so, which ones? Also, you said "_a lot_ less stuff"--how much is "a lot" to you? I don't think a drastic change amounting to "a lot" will happen in my lifetime where I live (SF Bay Area). I can see gradually owning less and less happening, and maybe stop after a few items become transformed into communal or collaborative. I see factors of geography, culture, quality, and others that would potentially counter/resist this trend. Dense cities in SF/NY/LA are nowhere near as dense/huge as they are in other mega cities around the world, like Manila or Hong Kong or Shanghai. Also, interested to hear about what you are doing now/what big bets you are making now to capitalize on what you think is going to happen on the future. E.g. I read an article about how Uber has all this potential with its current infrastructure to help enable the trend of collaborative consumption (example from said article: rent a BBQ grill and get it delivered to you along w/ a pack of hot dogs in under 20 minutes for $40, as it would simply be throwing BBQ grill into back of the trunk of car). San Francisco is pretty dense, but other important cities even in California, like San Jose, are pretty sprawled out and spaced apart, not to mention people living there or in much less dense places like for instance Alaska, New Mexico, Texas (and outside of US: Canada, Russia)... taking a limited supply of shared goods to massively spaced out land areas and ensuring quality, timeliness, etc will be very challenging. Those people will still have lots of space to store the stuff they own. In Asia, the culture is very much not DIY or experience it hands-on. Instead, I predict there will be an increasing need for specialists/service providers and baked-in into the infrastructure. Kinda like in the medieval ages or earlier depicted in the movies, where a mega castle will house a tailor, carpenter, blacksmith, etc. How many people would want to own their own stuff, then? I think an over-saturation in population will at some point dictate a complete change in the solution needed. For a big city with transportation problems, ZipCar is only a temporary bandaid. Ideal, long-term solution would be to build a better public transportation system, altogether phasing out cars. So I am somewhat in agreement with you that there will be less ownership in general, but not necessarily result in increased collaborative consumption like AirBnB and Couchsurfing; ridejoy.com recently just announced they are turning on autopilot mode and no longer actively developing it. Hobbyists and DIYers will continue to own the things they own. Culture has a lot to play in it also. When I was working at a large company, I once emailed the team while we were planning a team trip to offer sharing a hotel room w/ someone to save company some money and also improve team bonding opportunities, and jokingly said, "Or be American-minded and enjoy your privacy." No one took me up on it, and instead I received another humorous response, "I'll choose American through-and-through--I'll get my own room!" There are certain things that people just won't want to share, no matter what, and that's in the realm of what they regard as privacy. Where the line is drawn in privacy is a reflection of individual + cultural attitudes. Currently, I think I pretty much already own everything I need/want, and intentionally won't add to the collection. If there is anything that is truly one-time or limited use, I would have rented it anyway. Then, there is a problem of quality. Go snowboarding once per season or every couple of years? Maybe makes sense to rent. Go multiple times a year? Own. Well, I fell in love with snowboarding after the first time, and splurged on buying my own equipment. I don't go many times a year (and haven't gone for 3 years now), but I still don't regret buying that one time, because some stuff is just great brand new, and the rental stuff just ain't good 'nuff. By the time I wore it out, the resale value is basically nil. For certain expensive goods, the quality quickly deteriorates after a couple of uses. Then, there are companies like Nest that are building hardware + software to automate (optimize) your home. Ikea and other companies come up with ways to efficiently store and organize your stuff in the limited space you have. I think people will generally own the same amount of stuff they do now, but perhaps just a _little_ bit less of the bulkier things (replaced w/ more different and efficient things).
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2013 on The coming decline in ownership at Summation
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Dec 19, 2013