Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Age of Access

Contrary to popular belief, I did not spend my summer lounging on the beach making sand castles. Instead, I read and read and then read some more. One of the books, that I devoured was The Age of Access by Jeremy Rifkin. One of the subtitles is: Why You Spend More and Own Less. His basic premise for the book is that most of life will become a "paid for" experience. The news media MUST figure out what people will actually pay for in this new world economy.

This book was published in 2000 and way back then, Rifkin said that more and more people will lease life in order to have a simulated lifestyle. In other words, more people will lease cars because they want a change every six months and to feel like they have value. Yes, this is a terrifying notion that one's self worth is truly being equated to status and monetary wealth, real and imagined. Ownership is passe and too confining. More people will lease homes, apartments, etc. in order to be more mobile and to change more quickly. Brick and mortar businesses have too much overhead. Cyberspace is more economical and more networked.

In Rifkin's opinion and I agree, those who control access to distribution channels will rule in the network economy. As every major industry consolidates, the recording industry, airline industry, book industry, media industry, etc., power is being streamlined and placed in the hands of a few. So much for the Anti-trust laws.

This post is definitely to be continued. I have so many notes in my book, I can't type them all at once and I know you don't have time to read them all. So here are some parting thoughts from Rifkin for now:

1.Intellectual capital is worth more than physical capital. (Good news for academics, thinkers, analysts, etc.)

2.Culture is now a commerical resource. (People are paying for simulated real experiences.)

3.Time and attention become the most valued possession as a result. (As a faculty member, I must jockey for the time and attention of my students every class. I'm fighting text, random thoughts, hunger and who knows what else.)

4.Contractual relations in the form of paid memberships, subscriptions, admission charges, etc. have replaced traditional reciprocal obligations. (How can the media get the audience to pay for information? Note, I said information, not news.)

5.In a world of continuous innovation, everything becomes almost immediately outdated. (Great Scott, Batman!!!)

6."Experience Economy" "a world in which each person's own life becomes, in effect, a commercial market." (Think SELF as the product. Thanks Pam Johnson, Director of Journalism, Western Kentucky University.)

7.Commodification of Play-Paid for personal entertainment (Wii, Nintendo, etc. At Disney, they believe that gaming is the next frontier for an integrated wireless experience, the game box may become the conduit for connectivity.)

Seven is the number of completion so I'll stop there.
What are the implications? Think about it.

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