Here’s some electronic things my household owns collectively:
- our main camera
- our television
- our games consoles
- our Kindle and Nexus tablet
Here’s the services I use almost daily that do not have any notion of collectively owned content or multiple publishers wanting to manage a single account:
- Google Play, or any other Google service
- Xbox Live (to the extent I’ve explored it)
And this is epically frustrating, because here’s some use cases that these websites don’t handle well.
- we share parenting of our children. We would like to be able to play one or both of them Frozen or Cars or whatever without both owning a copy from a streamable service or someone needing to leave a logged in Android device with a known password in the house at all times.
- we both take photographs on our main camera. We sometimes can’t remember who took which one and in any case, it’s always me who post-processes them. We would like to be able to publish them on a photo sharing website and maybe sometimes attribute authorship (if one of us is especially proud of a shot and actually remembers taking it) and sometimes not!
- we read the same books because I read them first and Andrew reads some subset of them on my recommendation, and we’d like to do that without both buying a copy.
- we listen to the same music because Andrew listens to it first and I listen to some subset of it on his recommendation, and we’d like to do that without both buying a copy.
I mean, it’s disgusting really. One day we could even do the ultimate in simple gross violation of normal and healthy relationship boundaries some day and want to play each other’s saved games.
Right now we do pretty much what everyone does to some degree, as far as I can tell, which is to have a shared Amazon account and a shared Flickr account and still buy movies on optical discs for now even though five minutes of unskippable sections at the start are annoying and put our music on a fileserver and awkwardly manage our photos on a USB hard drive that can get plugged into different laptops and really not stream much stuff at all. Maybe one day we’ll have some kind of dedicated device that is logged into someone’s Google account and streams movies that are always bought through that account, or something like that.
Now traditionally when I make this point, someone will show up and say “yes, my dear, but something extremely complicated is going on here, much too complex and subtle for your delicate sensibilities, called making money through an advertising revenue model requiring demographic information and the entire world will go bankrupt if we allowed multiple people to share accounts even for content they produced in any recognised way, so don’t worry your pretty little head about it and let your husband buy the clicky button things from now on.”
To which I answer: this blog is (to the best of my knowledge) not owned by any of Yahoo!, Google or Microsoft and does not especially care about their revenue models. Moreover, if your comment boils down to “please try and see this from the side of the websites” I will replace your comment with the one from the previous paragraph, sexist content and all. (Also don’t explain to me that one can share passwords in various ways. I know. I do those things.)
I will concede one point: households don’t have continuity in the way that individuals do. My household will split into at least three and perhaps four someday. This is pretty much impossible to model in the present intellectual property+licencing rights model as far as I can tell.
And all the same, I’m annoyed that the software world is really hostile to the (very normal) way I live my life and is (surprise!) set up for a world in which each of the four people in my house sits in their own room with their own TV + gaming system + speakers + phone/tablet + ereader interacting with content they purchased entirely separately, and in many cases, in duplicate (possibly) maximising your revenue since whichever unfortunate day someone came up with the idea of an “account” on a computer system.
First ecosystem to fix this gets to sell me Frozen or something.