Access Beats Ownership In The Age Of Cloud Computing

A couple of recent ideas point to how the development of cloud computing has impacted the way we think about storage and ownership.

In the recent publication 20 Things I Learned About Browsers And The Web, Google touches on how digital storage capacity, ubiquitous access, and increased bandwidth have all blossomed over the last decade, resulting in the notion of cloud computing. We’re now seeing a couple of ideas that demonstrate how this notion has affected the way we manipulate not only digital files but physical ones as well — and even our ideas of storage and ownership at large.

One example is the service StorageByMail, something of a cloud storage service for physical items. Springwise explains below:

StorageByMail maintains a world-class storage facility that’s also used by brands including Bloomingdale’s and Tommy Hilfiger. Customers of the service begin by creating an account and an online description of any package of goods they’d like to send into storage. Next, they print a custom, prepaid USPS shipping label for each box they’d like to send; those labels ensure safe passage for the goods through the U.S. Postal Service to StorageByMail’s warehouse. When the customer wants them back, he or she simply requests return delivery and the company will ship them out the next business day.

Another interesting thought appears in a Metafilter thread titled Collect ‘em all, by a user named Pastabagel:

Coveting possessions is unhealthy. Here’s how I look at it:

All of the computers on Ebay are mine. In fact, everything on Ebay is already mine. All of those things are just in long term storage that I pay nothing for. Storage is free.

When I want to take something out of storage, I just pay the for the storage costs for that particular thing up to that point, plus a nominal shipping fee, and my things are delivered to me so I can use them. When I am done with them, I return them to storage via Craigslist or Ebay, and I am given a fee as compensation for freeing up the storage facilities resources.

This is also the case with all of my stuff that Amazon and Walmart are holding for me. I have antiques, priceless art, cars, estates, and jewels beyond the dreams of avarice.

The world is my museum, displaying my collections on loan. The James Savages of the world are merely curators.

As I am the curator of their things, and thus together we all share the world.

We expect to see more ideas emerge that point to the shifting nature of ownership; the idea that access beats ownership seems to be implicit in the popularity of digital content services ranging from Netflix to Spotify.

Storage By Mail

20 Things I Learned About Browsers And The Web

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