Recently I realised that I have been redefining my notions of ownership and place. Actually, perhaps it’s the intertubes that have been inspiring the redefining and the consequential conversations with @Girlwonder_ that confounded the confusion over place. These conversations reduced us to considering what a dropbox (cloud service) for milk would be and how feasible a cat share scheme would be. 

It is all because someone stole my bicycle a few months ago and though they don’t know it, they did me a favour. I had known that I would be moving cities (possibly countries) in which case a bicycle was something to be sold or transported at both financial and time costs. Now in London I have replaced my bike but only because Bojo hasn’t extended the bike scheme to this zone yet. 

This losing, replacing and managing physical property has however raised some questions over my ownership notions. Much of what I now consume are services not things, I don’t purchase paper newspapers, nor physical media such as DVDs or CDs. I try not to purchase digital films or music – opting instead for on-demand streaming services such as Netflix, Lovefilm or Spotify. I don’t own much so I don’t have to manage collections nor pay for their storage and this makes it increasingly easy to travel, time shift and device switch.

This also changes my working practice, I’m writing my doctoral thesis at the moment and my study, unlike those of my older peers is blissfully devoid of physical books and journal papers (I’ve lost that urge to read from paper), yet I have four hundred journal papers and four chapters (close to 50%) of my thesis stowed in the cloud. I can access and work on this anywhere that I have internet access. My requirements have therefore shifted from continuity of place to a multiple screens requirement and internet access. Moving and travelling is easy for me. 

More recently however this means that I am often confused when the milk I placed in the fridge in Paris in the morning is no longer there when I open my London fridge in the evening – thus the milk dropbox discussion. Of course this cloud and on-demand service approach to ownership and access can work well outside the internets too. My gym and office space is flexi-location, my bicycle could be an on-demand service if Bojo extended the scheme in London and services such as Vault Couture and handbag hire bring wardrobes closer to on-demand services. 

Of course cat share schemes are a thing in Rent-a-cat Tokyo and someone will soon implement airport petting zoos – I’m sure of it. Healthcare is likely to be revolutionised by servitisation, but in the meantime  servitisation trends are changing notions of ownership and place – most clearly demonstrated in the digital sphere. It would be interesting to see the resolution and responsiveness of off-line services get closer to the efficiency and responsiveness of digital services. 

We generate so much data that could be used to curate such services around our lives, so where are the Foursquare responsive milk-men and location switching postal addresses? Postcodes don’t work for me anymore, but identifiers that route my post to whatever city I happen to be in at that time would be useful, c’mon Royalmail. Oh, and the milk, we’re out again.

This basically means I need an internet fridge doesn’t it? Fu@k yeah Internet fridge.


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