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An interesting shift

From some perspectives, every gadget, tool, and device has a narrative; a story of how it fits (or fails to fit) into your hand, pocket, purse, shed and/or life.

What I find interesting is the narrative shift in the last few years to gadgets whose computing power must be continually paid for.

That’s pretty easy to understand if we’re talking about, say, a phone. If I don’t pay for my phone service, the phone is no good to me.

But when did playing my music become a service? Or viewing my spreadsheets? Or editing my documents?

When did a gadget stop being something whose core functionality that you owned and could use at will until it wore out or got broken?

When did it happen that gadgets simply became sexy but inert blobs of plastic when you miss a monthly payment? A paperweight no longer able to perform useful tasks for you, until its true masters are offered their Artemesian tribute once more.

At least with my mobile phone I can stop paying the phone company and I can still use it as a calculator, put apps on it and use them, take photos and save them on my computer, and use the phone as a portable music player. Anything, in short, that doesn’t require actually making or receiving SMS or phone calls.

This newer gear, though, you have to pay for for life to just keep on using the functions that it contains.

Interesting that such a profound psychological shift has taken place without much grumbling.

Categories: Culture, Opinion, Technology.

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