Kickstart a Kickstarter

Figured it’d be worth extrapolating on my Kickstarter investments over (nearly) the last two years. But before we get started, a few statistics:

Type Data
Projects 14
Funded 91%
Not Funded 09%
Ongoing 3
Avg. Price of My Investment $20.07
Most Expensive $50.00
Cheapest $05.00

The Glif

Described as “a simple iPhone 4 accessory with two primary functions: mounting your iPhone to a standard tripod, and acting as a kickstand to prop it up.” It was the first of this kind of accessory, and I’d argue it kindled the insane rise of iOS device-related accessories that followed. Not only was the Glif funded, but it was manufactured and shipped in a timely fashion as well. The creators at Studio Neat sent backers documentary-style videos capturing the process from design to finish, and even went on to design a few other items (like the Cosmonaut and iPhone app, Frameographer).

Quatro Typeface

Mark Caneso wanted to raise funds to expand his typeface, Quatro, to a 16 font family. I dug the blocky sans serif typeface, and my price tier would have yielded a highly discounted version of a few families, but it unfortunately did not get funded.

Wear You Live

The brand billed itself as “a civic-minded design and apparel line focused on creating unique ways for anyone to talk about their city.” While I don’t need to talk about the fine city of Chicago, I liked the graphic design work (mono-color satellite wireframes of cities down-scaled and pressed upon apparel and prints.

Pen Type-A

The Hi-Tec-C ink-powered, stainless steel replacement housing for the Japanese pen. Half ruler, half heavy-weight pen shaft, this thing defined Kickstarter in 2011. They funded around 108x their original goal. Too bad manufacturing took nearly nine months.

Venus Patrol

How could I not fund “a new videogame website in search of beautiful things from former editor and IGF Chairman Brandon Boyer”? Well, I did.


My search for long-form journalism in the age of 140-character bullshit is never-ending. Nick Disabato’s motto for Distance Magazine: “Three essays, five thousand words each, every three months. We want to build a better conversation with you.” A designer’s set of essays in a nicely formatted package.

Double Fine Adventure Game

Wonder how and why all these games keep getting Kickstarter campaigns? Double Fine started it all, with a massive funding exceeding $3.3 million. I’ve been receiving fantastic, quality documentary videos of the production of the game, and am quite excited to see the result.


Another long-form essay endeavor. This time, the focus is on anything with journalistic integrity. With the promise of one epic, well-researched story a week, this could easily displace the New Yorker for time well spent.

Wasteland 2

“Wasteland 2 is a sequel to the amazingly popular 1988 RPG Wasteland and the post-apocalyptic predecessor to the Fallout Series.” Enough said.

Flint & Tinder

Men’s clothing never gets the right kind of attention or love. Jake Bronstein must have felt the pain. He decided to start with the basics: underwear. Quality underwear. With a box of fucking matches. That’s all it took.

The Olympic City

Timely, yes. Creative, yes. I love the idea behind “a photography project that looks at former host cities of the Olympic Games, and what happens to a city after the Olympics are gone.” My city never hosted the Olympics (just a world fair), but who wouldn’t be fascinated by the economic ramifications of hosting a massive worldwide event like the Olympics? About to find out.


I use an AeoPress at work because it’s convenient as hell and makes a fine cup of Americano. This thing may not save me money (only wishful thinking in the long-run, depending on how gross my habit is), but it’s a genius idea. No hesitation in funding it. And they have a track record of beautiful designs and curation.


Yes, I’m a sucker for a project pitching “a super-thin, card-carrying over-achiever.” Thick wallets should burn.

Planetary Annihilation

I was weened in the art of RTS with Total Annihilation back in the 1990s. My favorite RTS game still holds a candle to the modern crop. But a true successor? And one with planetary bodies used for collisions? This shit must be funded. Not only is it a spiritual successor to a brilliant strategy game, but it uses multiple planetary bodies to wage warfare. You can even build rockets on asteroids and use them as bombs. Don’t question its impracticalities — this is a game for the ages.

Taking Notice: The Next Microsoft

Andrew Kim’s speculative redesign of Microsoft permeates all of the company’s current efforts, including Windows, Metro, and Surface. It’s finally picked up steam across the internet much in the same way that Dustin Curtis’s American Airlines redesign did a few years ago — albeit without as much scorn. Andrew decided that “Microsoft needs to be a brand that represents the future.” His design reaches this lofty goal on a cosmetic level (dig the space theme), and exceeds it philosophically.

He also makes excellent advancements on the Windows branding (and current 2012 redesign from Microsoft itself). I’ve long fled the Microsoft boat (since 2003), and nothing has impressed me on a software level from them except the design philosophies of Metro. Metro should have been the phoenix in the Windows ashes, but Microsoft refused to surrender the old metaphor in its branding and logo. Metro (aka Windows Phone OS, Windows 8) could have been that chance. And the recent unveiling of Surface (along with more mainstream coverage of Windows 8) could have been its Mac OS X moment. But they’ve long stuck to their old ways. To name a few:

So it’s no surprise that Andrew Kim rebooted the idea of Windows for the future. And then he went and demonstrated to Microsoft how you carry a consistent design and branding through all your key product lines.

His portfolio is excellent, and there are several other speculative design projects he’s worked on in the past, including EcoCoke and HTC 1.

Sweep the Sleaze (via iA)

If readers are too lazy to copy and paste the URL, and write a few words about your content, then it is not because you lack these magical buttons.

The truth is out there about social media buttons.

Update: Marco weighs in on why he doesn’t include social media buttons on his site:

I don’t embed any sharing buttons for one big reason: they look cheap and desperate. They would devalue my voice and reduce my credibility.

To Hell with SMS Plans

Carriers’ text (SMS) messaging plans should be one of the most contested issues with technology consumers have today, but aside from a few loud shouts from the corners of the Internet, they don’t receive as much attention as is deserved. What’s even more disconcerting than charging for text messages is the tiered pricing levels at which you must choose your service. But as horrible as SMS plans and pricing are, there is a greater problem lurking behind the veil of revolution: fragmentation. 

Context for Complaining

Back in 2007, AT&T allowed its network users to select from three tiered pricing structures for text message plans: 200/mo., 1500/mo., or unlimited. While the bottom tier has morphed over the years, there has always been a cheaper, more affordable option. The original pricing structure for the above tiers, circa five years ago, was:

  • $5/200
  • $15/1500
  • $20/unlimited

Since Apple released its latest iOS version in 2011 (which included iMessage, a service that uses data bandwidth instead of cellular bandwidth to facilitate rich text messages to other iPhones/iOS/Mac users), AT&T eliminated the cheapest version. They also instituted a raise in price of the per-text message option to $0.20/message. While this it entirely unreasonable for a telecommunications/utility company to brace itself for a disruptive technology like iMessage, it’s also monstrously demonstrative of unwarranted price gouging. There is no doubt that SMS is a valuable, globalized technological standard that allows any mobile device with phone calablities to communicate cross-telco. But when you break down the data bandwidths and technology required to operate this, the pricing structure doesn’t match up. And in the face of easier, better messaging technologies that leverage speedy data pipes (let’s not forget BlackBerry Messenger, Google Voice, etc.), it becomes less forgivable to rely on older tech — and charge more for it. It’s not as if cellular bandwidth is a scarce resource; I’d wager more people are using fewer minutes on their monthly plans. And let’s be realistic: text messages are not inelastic. Or are they? 

The Numbers

Now, to put some context around this. Below is a snapshot of my text message usage since iMessage was released. 

Text Message Usage Pre- and Post-iMessage

My messaging habits didn’t change after October, so the gradual decline of message usage directly correlates to the migration of messaging people with SMS to iMessage. Obviously this migration requires the majority of your closest contacts to have iOS devices (in my case: true), but it’s still a remarkable juxtaposition. 

The Bigger Problem

Alas, SMS messaging (and its pricing model) isn’t going anywhere fast — except perhaps up in price. If anything, the introduction of iMessage, as seamless as its integration has been, will only fuel fragmentation among text message users. Those users also must continue to rely on SMS plans for iOS users to affordably message non-iOS users. 

Unless there is a grand messaging unification among mobile OS providers, or SMS technology gets an upgrade to data pipes instead of cellular ones, SMS will never go away. Instead, users will operate in silos whereby it benefits them to share the same mobile OS among families and friends to save money. For example, you could save quite a bit of money if you had an iPod Touch with a monthly data plan. You could leverage iMessage for text messages and a Skype number for voice calls (or undoubtably a soon-to-be-released Apple solution to voice over data), and eschew the constraints of cellular plan pricing from the carriers. As I’ve mentioned before, I could make a pretty penny if there was a black market for AT&T rollover minutes. 

Where My Complaint Is Valid

Regardless of the fragmentation, I still want to complain that the current SMS plans are gouging users. Half the point of iMessage was likely to reduce the monthly cost of SMS plans for iOS users (the other half being an improved experience with message synching across iOS devices, read receipts, etc.). That pricing benefit was rendered irrelevant when AT&T decided to amputate the affordable plan. Make no mistake, this was directly aimed to fuck over its own customers from saving $5-10 a month. I was planning on switching to the cheaper plan until they decided to play this damaging game. 

You’d think competition in this space would address the market’s need. I’m still waiting.  

Buster App Review

App Store - $1.99

As of 02.20.2012

Buster App in Action

Underrated, Overused

One of the most outstanding achievements in technology has been the implementation of public transportation tracking, and its availability to the public via the Internet. Apparently vehicle tracking systems these days typically use GPS or GLONASS technology for locating the vehicle as it traverses terrain. I have no idea what Chicago’s CTA buses and trains use, but I sure appreciate that they’ve implemented it over the past several years. Even though they don’t have displays at all of their bus/train stops, the CTA website performs fantastically well (and accurately) as an estimation tool for when to expect arrivals and transfers.

While the site works on mobile browsers, it isn’t design as elegantly as it ought to be. Touch targets are designed for some backasswards pre-2007 mobile phone browser, and there is no way to quickly access commonly frequented routes (unless you were to bookmark the starting point of each one). We must then let expect the digital marketplace to provide a better solution.

Enter Buster App

And the marketplace did answer.

While Buster app isn’t the only CTA app available on the App Store, it’s by far the best. You could argue it’s merely a glorified skin for the CTA mobile websites for tracking buses and trains, but you’d be wrong. It’s a clever integration of the data available through CTA’s bus/train tracking systems and the conveniences therein of an app that allows for the following perks:

  • Saving favorites
  • Identifying nearby stops for quick access
  • Easy switching between cardinal directions at a selected stop
  • Checking time estimates between transfers (i.e., you’re tracking one bus and checking when that bus will arrive at another stop to transfer buses)
  • Sort by route or name
  • Notifications for next bus arrivals

These are useful, convenient features that accelerate your accessibility of CTA times and ensures your trips along the oftentimes unreliable CTA are maximized.

Well Designed

The design considerations for Buster follow Apple’s Human User Guidelines to a T. Tabular navigation at the bottom of the screen, status bar visible at the top (useful for keeping an eye on the time as you browse), correctly sized tap targets, considerations for the high resolution displays, and neat use of location services for finding nearby bus stops. The contextual tabs at the top (switching between Sort by Bus/Sort by Name, for instance) and contextual back buttons (for instance:

And as a utility app, Buster deserves homepage placement. If I’m going anywhere other than downtown Chicago for work, this thing is tapped constantly. I’ll easily plot a route and maintain my expectations with exacting precision. If we weren’t so desensitized with the incredible feats of technology, the experience of using Buster would feel very much like precognition.

Saddleback Leather

A recent discovery, Saddleback Leather is a serious online retailer specializing in leather goods. They sell geniune, 100% leather goods across several accessory lines, including wallets, business bags, luggage, and belts. The warranty for their products also happens to be 100 years. Yeah, no shit. Fortunately, the seriousness ends with their products, and everything else is military-grade wit. Nothing beats a good copywriter.

So I recently placed an order for a fairly inexpensive wallet — an extremely simple thing, featuring one slot that holds around 8 cards (when jammed tightly in), and provides a finger hole at the bottom for popping up and extracting. As any good retailer, these fellows have a friendly Common Questions tab for each of their products. An important question of moral integrity regarding the leather’s origin receives an excellent response:

Are the animals tortured before they are slaughtered?

Absolutely not! With some pigs we do use waterboarding and sensory deprivation techniques previous to slaughtering them, but the cows do not require any special handling.

How you can not support a place like this? The whole site is a delight to read. When I actually received my wallet, tucked between the leather was a small business card of the company CEO with the tagline of “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.” More, please.

iPod Touch & the Mobile Market

For all of those seemingly astonished analysts (via 512 Pixels) mulling over the fact that Apple owns the mobile marketplace (even after the rise of Android OS’s footprint): how did you not see this coming? Not only does iOS still rake in the largest share of all mobile app purchases, but let’s not forget they also sell and rent movies and TV shows, and are still the number one retailer for music.

But while everyone talks iPhones and iPads, there’s a sneaky product that’s probably contributing to these numbers a hell of a lot more than most people would guess. One look around the families gathered at our Christmas tree this year and it’s evident that iPod touches are selling very well to the younger (and teenage) crowd. Almost all of my cousins currently owned one or received one for Christmas — and every single one of them received iTunes gift cards to spend on Apple’s digital stores. While setting these things up is a bit tedious (I helped two younger cousins get through the process of creating email accounts and Apple IDs), once everything is operational, it’s clear that kids grasp digital frameworks quickly — just hearing them discuss games and apps, how important reviews are, and maximizing the credit attributed to their accounts is explanatory enough to reinforce this. It’s also obvious, as a result, that Apple and its developers are making a significant amount of revenue from customers without credit cards tied to Apple IDs and gift cards. It’s a fantastic method for permitting young customers to access and purchase on a mobile marketplace without the need of a credit card.

The bigger problem for the marketplace is that, after five years, there is hardly any competitor to the iPod touch (or phone-less smartphone). And just like Apple dominates the so-called “tablet” market, they too dominate a market without valid competition: the phone-less smartphone market (which isn’t really a phone-less market when you factor in phone-enabling apps over wifi like Skype and Google Voice). If no one can manufacture a version of a smartphone without subsidies, then the marketplace really does belong to Apple. Apparently some have tried, but none have succeeded in denting marketshare. It’s certainly worse than the digital music player market that Apple nearly owned entirely with its iPods during the 2000s. And just like that market, they’re doing the same to the tablet and smartphone-less ones. Good luck to anyone who can marshall the financing and resources to take on these markets. At this point, though, it’d be wiser to carve a niche into somethign new.

Apple Store App: In-Store Pickup

A few months ago, Apple updated their Apple Store app (the app tied to its physical retail stores, not the digital ones) to version 2.0. The added features circulated the tech blog rounds with applause, but they never caught on with mainstream media. Granted, the new features would be alien to a normal in-store shopper. And after having used them, it would take me quite a few times to ease habitually into them. But if more stores employed the features, shopping would certainly be more enjoyable.

So what exactly did Apple update? The big features released in Version 2.0 include the following:

  • Browse and purchase products in-app, then pick up at store
  • Easily purchase accessories on your own in-store with EasyPay

I did the former the other evening; the latter still seems too strange to me. Apple is granting enormous trust on its customers with the latter. And that’s actually something I did learn when speaking to the employee about the pick-up service — he reassured me that I should really try it and that they trust us — that they’re really trying to educate their customers on trusting them in their stores (which is fascinating considering the foot traffic they receive on an hourly basis).

So: while at work, I bought an accessory in-app (even picked out a specific color from a customize drop-down) and selected in-store pick up. It detected the nearby Apple Stores, and I merely tapped one and it automatically checked store inventory. Purchased it. Done.

About five minutes after receiving purchase confirmation emails, I was sent another email informing me that the product was ready for pick-up. Alas, I had to wait another five hours for work to elapse.

Propmtly after work, I jaunted over to the Michigan Ave store and checked my iPhone. This is what you see after tapping open the Apple Store app and initiating the pick-up screen:

Works Like It Should

The whole thing is magically slick. Stand anywhere you want in the store, tap Pick Up Now, and the app will initiate a process on the back-end that informs available Apple employees to the presence of a pick-up customer (I asked later about this, and was told that they have select individuals “on-duty” for these kinds of things).

I did, however, feel strange that somehow this wouldn’t exactly work, so I just went up to an Apple employee (a friendly guy named Pat) and told him what I was doing. He was rather surprised and genuinely excited about trying this out (apparently he hadn’t done it yet), so I re-did the Pick Up Now tap and we watched on his iPhone screen as an alert popped up. And just like that, my order information was provided so Pat could easily grab it from the back. (He had the option of returning me an alert that someone was on their way to me, but we skipped it.)

Within half a minute I had my product in-hand and a confirmation email sent to my phone. I know Apple retail stores aren’t the first to have a system in place for purchasing online and then picking up at store, but it’s by far the smoothest. I’ve tried Best Buy’s before and while it works, you have to stand in line and wait at Customer Service (which is the most awful part of their stores), as well as hope they’ve actually received the request for pick-up by the time you get to the clerk. For last-minute shopping, Apple’s process takes the cake.

The Bane of Share Buttons

If you have this on your site, please remove it. Just delete the code. Please.

ShareThis Can Suck It

Why would this look good — anywhere? Seeing a variation of this row of share buttons is just as vexing as seeing Flash ads initiate without your consent. Services like ShareThis are the bane of the Internet. If someone is going to share or link to an article (or product or service), they’ll likely do it by either:

  1. Copying the URL and pasting (because haven’t we habitually been doing this for decades?)
  2. Using their mobile OS’s built-in share service (which often includes the most important methods)

And for the sake of sensibility, if you’re going to do this, at least place them at the bottom of the article. Why the fuck would you put them at the top, near the title? By doing this, you assume your reader has read the content already — just as they land at the top of the page. This is impossible. And publications that send out newsletters with the share buttons affixed to the titles of featured articles (ahem, Atlantic) demonstrate even more incompetence.

You should loathe seeing share buttons on pages because of the following:

  • Off-color, different-sized buttons clash with the aesthetic of your website
  • Share options typically load pre-written text surrounding a link that doesn’t reflect your sentiments or your readers’
  • Low share numbers recorded on some of the buttons can depress readers’ trust in your content
  • More numbers to keep track of by way of more analytics on shared links — which, by the way, may even conflict with readers’ own methods for shortening URLs or doing other things to your URL that you can’t even track with a service like ShareThis

This isn’t a rant. It’s good advice. Take it and make the Internet a better place.

"Modern" social media is shit.

Pinboard’s maestro says it best:

The funny thing is, no one’s really hiding the secret of how to make awesome online communities. Give people something cool to do and a way to talk to each other, moderate a little bit, and your job is done. Games like Eve Online or WoW have developed entire economies on top of what’s basically a message board. MetaFilter, Reddit, LiveJournal and SA all started with a couple of buttons and a textfield and have produced some fascinating subcultures. And maybe the purest (!) example is 4chan, a Lord of the Flies community that invents all the stuff you end up sharing elsewhere: image macros, copypasta, rage comics, the lolrus. The data model for 4chan is three fields long - image, timestamp, text.

Now tell me one bit of original culture that’s ever come out of Facebook.

Why is Wunderlist Free?

Every so often I run a trial of a new task/project manager and see how well it flows into my daily needs. One of the most recently popular task managers is Wunderlist, a product of the Berlin-based development studio 6Wunderkinder. As a task manager, is it useable and pretty, but hardly efficient. It’s somewhere between Ta-Da List and, and really can’t touch something as extensive as Things or Omnifocus. But it is cross-platform, does exhibit cloud syncing, has custom backgrounds (who cares?), and is priced at $0.00. I’m sure the reason they have over 1 million users can be attributed to these very features. But how, and why, is Wunderlist free?

For supporting a growing team of 13 and hiring like crazy, Wunderkinder is likely sucking down VC or angel investments. But I wonder how this is paying off. How many times do companies that know how to successful run a business need to clarify? Wunderkinder, for being a perceptively clever and lean company, must have something to sell, right? There are currently no ads associated with any Wunderkinder app or the site, and I doubt they’re selling any kind of user information, so there must be a projected revenue stream somewhere down the road.

Recently, I received an email requesting an early beta sign-up for a new product they’ve been working on called Wunderkit. Perhaps since I only trial ran their task manager, I never got around to following development updates, so Wunderkit came as a surprise. After having read their announcement blog post, I was still miffed as to what exactly Wunderkit was, and how it fit into the Wunderlist ecosystem. Presumably, it’s some variation of project management, or even a re-imagining of it. From the few screenshots and conceptual previews, the product addresses various shortcomings found in Wunderlist (namely, recurring tasks), and expands upon the aesthetics and design found in the skimpier task management software.

So if Wunderkit is the studio’s answer to the current negative revenue stream, will it suffice? Can it render them monetarily successful? Wunderlist has been out for around a year. It arrived right when productivity software was hitting its peak — there are so many apps out there claiming to offer easy project and task management it’s utterly nutty. Is there room for one more, let alone one that isn’t free? After all, we can assume that’s one of the reasons Wunderlist has been so successful. But they’ll be up against monolithic titans of a completely different marketplace — Basecamp, Salesforce, Flow, etc.

Depending on the price point for Wunderkit (if there even is a price point), it’s going to require a lot of features and a significant number of upgraders/switchers to justify further software development, as well as to address the number of different platforms on which Wunderkit will presumably reside. Who knows, maybe they’ll redefine a market and register millions of paying users. Maybe I’m still vexed it’s taken Cultured Code years to implement their fucking cloud sync. Either way, I still don’t know how or why Wunderlist is free — but perhaps we’ll find out soon enough.

The Fans are All Right

Pinboard’s creator on staying true to his users with his bookmarking service, and refraining from buckling to the socializing plug-in layers that riddle so many other services. Pinboard, after all, has always intended to be “a bookmarking site and personal archive with an emphasis on speed over socializing.”

Pinboard is not a social site, and it has always been about archiving, not sharing. I don’t intend to make the same mistake Avos did and suddenly try to retool the site for a brand new group while neglecting the quiet link hoarders who form the Pinboard old guard. As a grouchy hermit, I like to think that other grouchy hermits should have a place to store stuff that will never feel like publishing or expose them to unwanted contact with other people.

At the same time, I think the fans are a very nice bunch who have been somewhat hard done by, and that their presence will be a long-term boon to the site. Like bees in a garden, the sudden arrival of a big swarm can be alarming, but all this swarm wants is a place to set up a hive and get to work. And I’ll end this metaphor right now before it provokes any pollination slash.


Up until the turn of the century, we’ve accessed entertainment media by purchasing tangible goods (even if the actual product wasn’t). But digital distribution methods, storage-infinite portables, and the instantaneous speeds of an ubiquitous high-speed network have changed all that – indefinitely. So how do we treat the act of using and enjoying media – whether it be film, music, videogames, or books – when offered services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, Steam, Gamefly, and Project Gutenberg? When you have tens of thousands of films available for a nominal monthly price, or the ability to listen to any song any time without cost, or download and read any public domain book on a single, portable device?

Let Me Re-Phrase That

How about looking at it like this: instead of spending a cool $14 on a music album you play in a CD player, listening from track 1 to track 13 in a linear fashion, you instead get (for the same price) instantaneous access to infinite playlists of any artist, album, song, or snippet from here to the other side of the planet. And every time you begin listening to a new song, you’re kindly suggested a dozen more artists just like the one you’re listening to. Click, tap, swipe.

Even if you aren’t considering the medium of streaming, we’ve moved from listening to “full-length” albums and EPs to distributing single downloadable tracks anywhere you are connected to an Internet service provider. It’s instant-on, instant-access. Anywhere and everywhere – no need to take a train down to the record store.

Or what about books? Instead of carefully selecting a Penguin Classics for $12 at Borders, you stare at a list of thousands of classic literature titles, all free, all downloadable to your Kindle. How do you choose where to begin when you see so many free options? How do you value just one of them, once you’ve downloaded it?

What to watch tonight? Way too many choices. I’ve spent more time slicing the selection on Netflix than I ever did dawdling through Blockbuster aisles. And if you don’t think you’re going to like a movie fifteen minutes in — easy fix: back button, insta-substitute.

Living in Excess

In the age of insta-excess, we’re slowly endangering the value of worth in art and entertainment. With services like Netflix and Spotify stuffing our browsers and mobile devices with more than we could ever enjoy in a lifetime, we also may be losing our appreciation for the monetary worth of entertainment. How much does an artist or studio make from a publisher’s contract with Spotify? How about Netflix? Project Gutenberg? Does it matter?

Add to that assumption the attention span of an engaged participant and you start to see a magnified problem – harder to find time to stay focused and read a significant numbers of pages in one sitting, watch an entire film, play through a large chunk of a single-player videogame // check phone // walk around // distract yourself // back again.

The technologies and entertainment mediums of our time have changed. But the efforts around their creation haven’t. Can there be a balance? Are we left to watching movies, listening to music, reading books, and playing games without actually owning any of them, merely licensing the ability to watch at our leisure? Do we care about book shelves and collections, about offline viewing, about going back and playing an old game on an old system packed away in a storage bin?

Rewiring the Brain, Accepting the New Reality

Perhaps this adjustment only pertains to those of us who experienced this transformation in media access over the last decade. For everyone born afterwards, it’s all they will ever know. We’re living in an environment with distribution methods unfathomed by previous generations. Since the invention of bound books, actually.

The new reality is insta-access, which also happens to be insta-excess. Owning content is on its way out; licensing its use on a variety of owned mediums is in. Perhaps this is how it’s going to be. The quaint bookstores of yore selling physical bound volumes likely won’t disappear, but it’s evident that they’re tied to a previous civilization. How we’ll value music, film, games, and literature going forward may be decided by algorithms, suggestion systems, and social sharing services. I hope it’s not, but these are the mechanisms built into the new distribution channels (digital stores and streaming products) that didn’t exist in previous incarnations. Insta-excess may end up providing more benefits in the long-term, if, of course, we end up finding more leisure time.