CHAPTER 8 A zero-barrier world: how access to knowledge is breaking down barriers

For most of the industrial era the only option for having goods and services was to own them. If we wanted to have anything, we had to buy it. This was also the way industrial society was set up. It moved society away from the traditional ideas of shared resources into consumption silo mode. The industrial era made many things affordable for the first time. The rational choice was to purchase and own, so we accumulated goods and stored them at home for when they were needed. Being able to have everything we needed, and places to store it all (fridges, cupboards, spare rooms and garages), reduced a lot of the friction that existed before industrial communities came into being and resources were shared.

So what’s changed?

Much of the friction of sharing is now coming back out of the commercial system. While vehicles gave us access to vast geography on demand, the internet is giving us access to vast information, entertainment and even physical goods on demand. Many of the things we had no choice but to buy if we wanted access to them are changing the way they come to market. Increasingly, we have an option to buy or to simply access an asset on demand. We are choosing the latter.

Why do we even own stuff?

There are two main reasons for owning anything: utility and status. Owning something for its usefulness is pretty straightforward: you need to own it to be able to use it. Owning something ...

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