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The age of not owning: they give us everything, we leave with nothing


Although people are now more than ever making use of online webshops for their purchases and companies are going online to grasp the potential of ecommerce, there is another business model that is becoming even more important in our day-to-day lives. Just like me, you probably use Spotify for your music, watch Youtube videos occasionally and might even have tried Netflix since it launched in the Netherlands. And if you’re creative, you might use Photoshop and noticed that this service moved to a subscription-based system.

What do Spotify, Youtube, Netflix and Adobe have in common? They have all started to rent their goods. The price may not even be high, that’s not the point, but we’ve come to live in an age of not owning. Where is the time when we had shelves from IKEA solely for storing our DVD’s and CD’s? Nowadays nobody has them anymore. Instead, consumers are moving away from buying music and movies towards streaming and everybody seems happy with this convenience. But I think it’s an illusion to view this as the perfect solution, when in fact it is a trap the world has started to embrace, when in the end we get nothing in return.

Just think of Spotify; you think that you have a music collection, with your own music playlists and even your local songs of your computer are imported. In a way you do have a music collection, but what if Spotify decides to increase the monthly subscription amount each month or even worse; decides to stop this service, or goes bankrupt. Then all ‘your’ songs would be gone, you may even have spent 100 euro’s of monthly subscriptions for it, when you do not even own the songs, you merely rented them. Also while paying for it; you were limited to syncing your Spotify account with only three devices.  It may seem okay to pay some money for an almost unlimited music library, but the consequences when it ends are disappointing.

Subscribing to digital content is still a fairly new business model, and I think that users are still trying to find out what it means to lease digital content and whether it is an investment that is worth it for what you get in the long term. But as things are going more digital content is moving to this business model; e.g. Oyster is a new application for books, and newspapers are setting up a paywall that let’s you view all content available online when paying a fee.

In other words: Do you think it’s worth it? Or do you prefer ‘the old way’ of buying and owning your digital content? And will this be a trend that is here to stay?


Caroline Massart



Skeuomorphism vs flat design: 0-1

What is Skeuomorphism anyway?

Scewomo-what?? No need to remember this thorny word, because as fast as it took over the design world in 2007, it is already on its decline. Anno 2013 people are starting to embrace a new design concept.

Skeuomorphism means using the design of concepts inherent to an old technology as input for the implementation of a new design.

Most people associate skeuomorphism with Apple products. Just consider the Calculator, Clock, Calendar or Newsstand on your Iphone; they are all digital illustrations of their real-world counterparts. But not only these obvious recognizable components stand out, the subtle movements in the images act as if they are physical products. Originally these ‘old’ designs were used to evoke a sense of familiarity to the user when encountering a new concept or app online. Thanks to Apple’s (read: Steve Jobs’) objective to make a user-friendly design, this has been the look of Apple software for years. Its hardware on the other hand was designed by Jony Ive for the past two decades, a British industrial designer that values a functional and clean look. This combination has made Apple’s look of products world-renowned and extremely popular. A perfect fit.

But times have changed. As many of you know, there has been some shake-up in Apple’s executive positions back in 2012; with as a result that Jony Ive is now responsible for both the software and hardware of Apple. The ultimate result of this decision has been unveiled yesterday. Launched 18 September 2013, Apple has shown an entirely different look, the flat user interface of its 7th mobile operating system (iOS7). Flat design takes out the graphical look of different textures and strips away all the non-functional elements thereby making it a more minimalistic and clean design. But whereas skeuomorphism limited creativity, flat design fosters it by thinking of new ways to represent elements. Not only Apple is embracing the flat design, Windows is following this trend suit with its Metro design in Windows 8.

First opinions have called the flat user interface minimalistic and childish, while others love it. Nonetheless, if it will make skeuomorphism redundant is yet to be seen, for the moment being people are obsessed with its design-counterpart. Don’t forget that the discussion can be extended beyond Apple or Windows to mechanical vs electronic wristwatches, dashboard elements in a car, the traditional look of a house, etc.

What do you think? Should skeuomorphism disappear entirely?

Flat vs Skeuomorphic

PS: if you wonder who was crazy enough to think of this word: skeuomorph is derived from the Greek; skeuos (container or tool) and morphe (shape).

Caroline Massart