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5 Things I No Longer Wish to Own
September 20, 2011 - 10:30pm

Is this desire to shed ownership of things a life cycle story, a digital story, or something else? Do you share my desire for life as a service? Has owning stuff also lost its appeal to you?

5 Things I No Longer Wish to Own:

1. Software: Software as a service (SaaS) today may not always be possible or pragmatic, but SaaS is clearly the future. What enterprise or personal applications that we currently host on our servers or laptops will not eventually move to the cloud?

2. Hardware: As we move from software providers and owners to software consumers and renters, the hardware on which we run our software will also migrate from our grasp. Good. Let the servers sit in the data centers, and the laptops be be rented and refreshed every two years.

3. Books: A bookshelf full of books has been important to me for 30 odd years (I'm 41). The bookshelf full of books was a map to my values and knowledge, a symbol of investment, the physical manifestation of a life of the mind. No longer. The bookshelf is no longer essential to my presentation of self. A select number of reference books I'll always treasure, and move from place to place. Some of these reference books I'll actually utilize, most hold primarily sentimental value. For most of the books I'll read going forward, my preferred delivery package is lightweight. A paper book checked out from the library is wonderful. An e-book, available on all my screens from e-readers to smart phones (and all synching together), might be even better.

4. Car: Any consumer expert (or your father) will tell you that the best plan for car ownership is to drive the thing into the ground. Even smarter if you can buy the car gently used, and then drive it pretty much forever. As an owner of 2 high mileage cars I've scrupulously followed this advice. But I fantasize about leasing. Give up the minivan for a Mini with a 6 speed, and turn it in 3 years later for a new one.

5. House: The crash of the housing bubble has perhaps forever changed how I look at housing. Never again will a house be considered an investment, only a place to live. We know that owner occupied housing is, on average, of higher quality than rental occupied housing. And we know that over a number of years that the financial benefits of homeownership accrue, for the enforced savings and tax advantages that comes with a mortgage. But I don't think housing values will come back to 2006 levels for many years to come, and for most of us an owned home is a barrier to mobility. Once the kids leave the house (2017), I'm hoping to join the nation of renters.

What do you own and would rather rent?

What do you now rent that you once owned?


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