We can distinguish three abstract elements in the paradigm shift from assets to access. The first is to distinguish between solid and fluid. Records and CDs are solid, while streaming is fluid. Cars are solid, but the distance you drive is fluid. Goods you own are solid – you have to purchase them, store them, maintain them, and eventually upgrade or replace them. The use of borrowed or rented goods is a fluid, temporary interaction.
The second element is the shift from underutilized to utilized. This can happen in a commercial or non-commercial way, through renting or sharing. This is more than just a more efficient use of commercial assets, such as empty hotel rooms or airplane seats. The spare potential in the use of consumer assets – spare rooms, private cars and tools – is increased through information-sharing on platforms. It is about replacing infrastructure with information – a category shift.
The third element in the shift is that the asset in question does not even need to be material. It is a question of it shifting from stock to flow. In education, it is the shift from large swathes of memorized facts to a flow of information, and the capacity to find information and turn it into knowledge. For a company or organization, the shift can be from thinking in terms of stocks of ownership of knowledge or data to open flows of ideas and data.