Do you ever get the feeling we’re rushing headlong into a cyberpunk dystopia? With the added disadvantage of fewer shiny bodysuits. I really have come to dislike the subscription economy. I don’t mean traditional subscriptions. Certainly not something tangible, something material. Like the newspaper. I happily read mine on a daily basis and a subscription really is the only way to ensure a daily delivery.
No, it’s stuff like streamers, the shenanigans BMW tried to pull with offering subscriptions to its heated seats that were already in peoples’ cars and most gallingly of all, software as a service. You know, Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. Even GamePass, which struck me initially as a tremendous deal. But the truth is, I’d much rather have a perpetual license to these things than pay a lifetime of subscription fees.
Obviously the corporations feel the opposite. They want a long term income stream rather than a one and done outright purchase. And they’re only answerable to their shareholders rather than their customers.
I don’t mind small creators making use of Substack or Patreon or other revenue streams. It’s the difference between a stall on a market day and a mega corporation. And I get that in some aspects of contemporary life it is unavoidable. I’ve paid for hosting this site and the domain name, for example. And I pay my mobile bill – I guess that could be deemed a kind of subscription. But that makes sense.
Naturally I keep my eye out for less ephemeral and price-elastic options.
As a hobbyist photographer I’m not a fan of Adobe and have made the decision to adopt the Open Source RawTherapee as an alternative to Photoshop. It’s taking a little while to adjust to it, but I think I’ve got the hang of it.
You might think I’ve also switched away from Office and while that’s half true – I do have LibreOffice installed on my laptop – I did spring for a licence key for Office 21 Pro, which people can still buy outright. As for Spotify and streaming services, the first is a shared plan within the household and likewise for the second, I only pay for one service (Prime). Although I find my use of such services is getting rarer.
In terms of remote storage I have a NAS, which I can remotely upload files to. So I don’t need a cloud storage solution.
Finally, I never got rid of my DVD collection. In fact, I have added a few optical discs to it in recent months.
So in my own way I’m doing my best to resist. It’s always worth remaining aware that corporations are doing their best to stick their hands in your pockets and grab as much money as possible as often as possible. Be thoughtful about this. If there are alternatives that limit this or a change of behaviour that doesn’t impact you too much, I encourage you to adopt them. That way these businesses may not get as lazy as they can become and instead offer you a better service for a better price.
Anyway, here’s an outstanding documentary from 20 years ago generally explaining the mindset behind this sort of thing.