New York Times Validates Our Predictation About The Sharing Economy


One of our predictions of a topic that would generate media coverage in 2020 was the sharing economy, principally:  Streaming — but not owning — content increasingly means you might be able to access the version you want.”

At the time we wrote that, we were a little uncertain. After all, the sharing economy had been around for a couple of years, and we had not seen much written about the downsides of not owning your content. But we felt that this would change this year in part due to the so-called streaming wars. There’s been a lot of attention to programs like “Friends” and “The Office” that will be leaving Netflix for NBC Peacock service, and we thought — correctly, as it seems — that that would spark more coverage of the issues of renting content but not owning it.

Brian X. Chen, lead consumer tech writer for the New York Times, has written two articles about how to navigate and control content. 

In “We’re Living in a Subscriptions World. Here’s How to Navigate It,” Chen writes, “Subscription services like Netflix and Google Drive are convenient, but we can lose control of our content and data.”

In the article, Chen says, “Here are some approaches to taking control of our media while enjoying the benefits of subscription services. Those steps range from the obvious, like creating local copies of your data, to more advanced methods, like making a personal cloud using an internet-connected storage device that acts like a miniature server.”

The Times also published another article on the topic: “We Should Have Bought the DVDs It’s 2022. I don’t know if I’ll ever own a house, but I can own my favorite television shows in their entirety.” The op-ed, clearly written in 2020 (not 2022) is part of a Times initiative called “Op-Eds From the Future,” which asks science fiction autors, futuriss, philosophers and scientists to write “the Op-Eds that they imagine we might read two, 10, 50 or even 200 years from now.”

So, okay, you might say we’re right that this feature of the sharing economy will get written about in 2020 or that we saw even further into the future, 2022. But we think this is really a 2020 conversation; by 2022, the sharing economy will be so prevalent, people won’t really remember an age in which we actually owned content.

Let us know if you think we’re wrong or if you have any insights that you, um, want to share.

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