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Dave Beans

The Cult Of Less

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Would anyone be brave enough to live with just a Laptop, and not much else?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10928032

Many have begun trading in CD, DVD, and book collections for digital music, movies, and e-books. But this trend in digital technology is now influencing some to get rid of nearly all of their physical possessions - from photographs to furniture to homes altogether. Let's face it - digital files, applications and web services are replacing the need for many of the physical goods that pepper our homes, crowd our desks and fill our closets. From online photo albums to virtual filing cabinets to digital musical instruments, hi-tech replacements are becoming ubiquitous. But as goods continue to make the leap from the bookshelf to the hard drive, some individuals are taking the opportunity to radically change their lifestyles.

'21st-Century minimalist'

Meet Kelly Sutton, a spiky-haired 22-year-old software engineer with thick-rimmed glasses and an empty apartment in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighbourhood - a hotbed for New York's young, early adopters of new technology. Mr Sutton is the founder of CultofLess.com, a website which has helped him sell or give away his possessions - apart from his laptop, an iPad, an Amazon Kindle, two external hard drives, a "few" articles of clothing and bed sheets for a mattress that was left in his newly rented apartment.

This 21st-Century minimalist says he got rid of much of his clutter because he felt the ever-increasing number of available digital goods have provided adequate replacements for his former physical possessions.

"I think cutting down on physical commodities in general might be a trend of my generation - cutting down on physical commodities that can be replaced by digital counterparts will be a fact," said Mr Sutton. The tech-savvy Los Angeles "transplant" credits his external hard drives and online services like iTunes, Hulu, Flickr, Facebook, Skype and Google Maps for allowing him to lead a minimalist life.

"I think the shift to all digital formats in all methods and forms of media consumption is inevitable and coming very quickly," said Mr Sutton. And Mr Sutton may be right. Consumer electronic book sales tripled between 2008 and 2009, while the growth of physical book sales slowed, according to the Association of American Publishers.

Meanwhile, compact disc sales have declined by roughly 50% from their 2005 levels worldwide, while global revenue from digital music has nearly quadrupled in the same period, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Virtual homelessness

Chris Yurista, a DJ from Washington, DC, cites this trend in digital music as one reason he was able to hand over the keys to his basement apartment over a year ago.

You have to really make sure you have backups of your digital goods everywhere”

Chris Yurista

Washington, DC DJ

"It's always nice to have a personal sense of home, but that aside - the internet has replaced my need for an address," the 27-year-old said.

Since boxing up his physical possessions and getting rid of his home, Mr Yurista has taken to the streets with a backpack full of designer clothing, a laptop, an external hard drive, a small piano keyboard and a bicycle - an armful of goods that totals over $3,000 (£1,890) in value. The American University graduate, who spends much of his time basking in the glow emanating from his Macbook, earns a significant income at his full-time job as a travel agent and believes his new life on the digital grid is less cluttered than his old life on the physical one.

"I don't feel a void living the way I'm living because I've figured out a way to use digital technology to my advantage," Mr Yurista explained.

Mr Yurista feels by digitising his life, he no longer has to worry about dusting, organising and cleaning his possessions. And he says his new intangible goods can continue to live on indefinitely with little maintenance.

"Things like records snap and wear down over time. It's upsetting. MP3s don't," he said.

The DJ has now replaced his bed with friends' couches, paper bills with online banking, and a record collection containing nearly 2,000 albums with an external hard drive with DJ software and nearly 13,000 MP3s. But Mr Yurista is not the only digital vagabond. Joshua Klein, a New York City-based technology innovation consultant, also set out on the road with his hard drive.

He and his wife digitised their possessions, got rid of two-thirds of what they owned and headed to the streets of New York for nine months with their laptops. But Mr Klein and Mr Yurista both admit there are risks involved. Mr Klein says the lifestyle can become loathsome because "you never know where you will sleep". And Mr Yurista says he frequently worries he may lose his new digital life to a hard drive crash or downed server.

"You have to really make sure you have back-ups of your digital goods everywhere," he said.

Data crisis counsellor

Data recovery engineer Chris Bross agrees and says if individuals backed up their digital lives "they wouldn't need us when a failure occurs, and they wouldn't be in crisis".

As digital possessions shrink the need for physical property, data recovery companies like Drive Savers, DTI Recovery and Eco Data Recovery may become the emergency response teams of the future. Mr Bross, a Drive Savers employee, believes as individuals grow increasingly dependent on "digital storage technology for holding all these assets that they used to hold more tangibly", data recovery services will become rather like the firefighters of the 21st Century - responders who save your valuables. And like a house fire that rips through a family's prized possessions, when someone loses their digital goods to a computer crash, they can be devastated. Kelly Chessen, a 36-year-old former suicide hotline counsellor with a soothing voice and reassuring personality, is Drive Savers official "data crisis counsellor".

Part-psychiatrist and part-tech enthusiast, Ms Chessen's role is to try to calm people down when they lose their digital possessions to failed drives. Ms Chessen says some people have gone as far as to threaten suicide over their lost digital possessions and data.

"It's usually indirect threats like, 'I'm not sure what I'm going to do if I can't get the data back,' but sometimes it will be a direct threat such as, 'I may just have to end it if I can't get to the information'," said Ms Chessen.

It's the idea that we can copy or transfer the information inside the brain into a computer into a form that can be run on the computer”

Dr Anders Sandberg

Oxford University Research Fellow

And Ms Chessen says she is receiving an increasing number of calls as the shelf life of our physical possessions draws to a close.

The 'ultimate replacement'

Research Fellow Anders Sandberg, at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, warns Ms Chessen may soon be dealing with larger problems than lost photos and video footage. He says our hard drives may one day contain the most important digital replacement of all - digitised replicas of our own brains. Dr Sandberg believes we could be living on hard drives along with our digital possessions in the not too distant future, which would allow us to shed the trouble of owning a body. The concept is called "mind uploading", and it suggests that when our bodies age and begin to fail like a worn or snapped record, we may be able to continue living consciously inside a computer as our own virtual substitutes.

"It's the idea that we can copy or transfer the information inside the brain into a form that can be run on the computer," said Dr Sandberg. He added: "That would mean that your consciousness or a combination of that would continue in the computer."

Dr Sandberg says although it's just a theory now, researchers and engineers are working on super computers that could one day handle a map of all the networks of neurons and synapses in our brains - and that map could produce human consciousness outside of the body. He says if a complete map of our brains was uploaded to a computer and a conscious, digital replica of ourselves was created, we could, in theory, continue to live forever on a hard drive along with our MP3s and e-books. When asked, Mr Yurista says mind uploading sounds like a very hard concept to grasp but admits getting rid of one's body and living inside a computer "truly sounds like the ultimate form of minimalism".

Edited by Dave Beans

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"iPad therefore I am"

Bhuddists beat him to it by some considerable margin, and without enriching Steve Jobs along the way.

Fewer possessions is certainly the way forward, although I don't think digitising them counts, you still have the attachment just in different form. FAIL!

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I've been doing this for years. I still like physical books, but might be tempted to try a kindle eventually.

Once I've read a book though I give it away to friends or colleagues I think it would interest.

It's a habit that started when I was a skint student, and continued throughout my adult life as I tend to move every couple of years.

Right now, if I wanted to move to a different part of the world I could sell, give away and dump most of my possessions and be left with not much more than a laptop, a bag of clothes, and a few choice books.

Sometimes I wonder whether I've developed an inability to settle..

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I don't think this trend is trendiness for the sake of it. Homes are getting smaller. I recently got my first ever paid for Mp3 album. A few years ago I'd have said I wanted a 'proper CD'. But my CDs are never touched - it's all digitized now - so why bother?

Edited by CrashedOutAndBurned

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I don't think this trend is trendiness for the sake of it. Homes are getting smaller. I recently got my first ever paid for Mp3 album. A few years ago I'd have said I wanted a 'proper CD'. But my CDs are never touched - it's all digitized now - so why bother?

When the end of the world comes mad max style I am sure my place will either get looted or turned into some kind of weird shrine to how the world was before 21C minimalism.  Its modern, but my wife does not half  collect a load of bits and pieces, knick knacks etc   But my top hate, scatter cushions.

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I know this might sound a bit daft but I am going into minimilist mode.

After many years of waiting I took the plunge and bought a 37" LCD (not a 55") having donated my perfectly nice 28" wide-screen JVC CRT to a friend.

The sound was characteristically bad so I decided to buy a sound system. I opted for a Pansonic 2.1 system with just 2 speakers and a sub-woofer. Total cost £249. In days of yore I might have gone for a multi-speaker set up and had the nightmare of wires all around the room. My 2.1 system is minimilist and emulates 7.1 reasonably well and I am basking in contentment.

I am still renting and moved into a smaller gaff recently and decided to jettison quite a lot of old furniture as my next purchase will be a much smaller house, possibly just 2 bedrooms even though I could probably squeeze into a smallish 4 BR.

Minimilism is the way to beat inflation and turn it into massive deflation is everyone thinks alike. Minimilism is catching on in the US big time and its a herd thing.

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I don't think this trend is trendiness for the sake of it. Homes are getting smaller. I recently got my first ever paid for Mp3 album. A few years ago I'd have said I wanted a 'proper CD'. But my CDs are never touched - it's all digitized now - so why bother?

Put every CD on hard drive with back up and sold all the originals.....having less gives more, more freedom, more money, more choice. ;)

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I have been living in a series of shared houses for the last 6 years and was getting a bit fed up of moving stuff to the next house that I never even unpacked in the current one, so this year I have been trying to steadily reduce my possessions. The easiest ones are things you borrowed from other people, just give them back! Unwanted books and DVDs are also easy ones to get rid of via Amazon/eBay, after that you have to start making more difficult decisions about furniture and clothes if you really want to get anywhere. I'd say a good way of going about it is to pick a small number of things you're not bothered about, get rid of them, and then when that's done pick another batch. Hopefully making slow but steady progress will yield results over time. Also, obviously try not to accumulate too many new things while you're at it.

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Put every CD on hard drive with back up and sold all the originals.....having less gives more, more freedom, more money, more choice. ;)

Yus indeed. We are going to go with a simple Ipod docker (Klipsch) which is a tenth of the size of our old system and dump all the CDs. Getting ready for that smaller gaff when winter comes and a dark cloud of gloom hangs over property sellers like a cloak of death and destruction. :)

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Put every CD on hard drive with back up and sold all the originals.....having less gives more, more freedom, more money, more choice. ;)

Also illegal, as unless you keep the original CD you are pirating music.

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Also illegal, as unless you keep the original CD you are pirating music.

Sorry officer, I seem to have lost the original.

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I just announced to the trouble that we ought to be loooking for a minimilist 2BR* gaff when we buy and she said she is already on my track! Sorted--let the minimilist revolution begin!

________________________

We recently moved from a 3BR rental and can honestly say that the spare room was used for about 10 days out of the 365.

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I've been doing this for about the past 5 years, the prospect of moving from house to house with masses of physical possessions wasn't very attractive so I got rid of most of it on ebay. I have a couple of smallish boxes of stuff at my parents' house but apart from that I could probably move now without the aid of a car, at the most I'd only need a fiesta/mini.

This isn't ideal, I would like a reasonable sized place with widescreen T.V and a decent kitchen with some nice gizmos, but all the time I'm sharing I don't see the point in paying for stuff that will only get lost or abused by other housemates.

Edited by Chef

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I quite fancy the life of a globe trotting digital nomad - and I have the job that could make it possible.

Sadly my missus is a hoarder (result of having practically nothing as a child I think). I am not much better although I do give a lot of stuff away and I'd dump it all to become a rich vagabond if the missus was up for it. Bought 7 DVDs for £7 last weekend - watched them - all but 1 given away already. The 1 left will likely pay for the rest as it's pretty rare so it'll get flogged on Amazon or eBay.

Increasingly I look for quality in possessions - it is utterly pointless keeping a bestselling novel as you will always be able to find it cheap or free if you want to read it again. My victorian first edition of Sherlock Holmes will remain on the bookshelf though.

Stuff can be very useful in rentals though. We had so much stuff in our last one bedroom flat in London that it actually insulated the place and we didn't have to put the heating on during the winter (not that you could have actually reached a radiator to turn it on anyway). In other respects it was like living in my vision of the seventh circle of consumerist hell - surrounded by your lifetime's purchases slowly squeezing the life out of you.

Edited by greencat

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damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

****** off with your sofa units and string green stripe patterns, I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let... lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may.

Fight club (1999)

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Yus indeed. We are going to go with a simple Ipod docker (Klipsch) which is a tenth of the size of our old system and dump all the CDs. Getting ready for that smaller gaff when winter comes and a dark cloud of gloom hangs over property sellers like a cloak of death and destruction. :)

Albums would be one of my vices. I'd never get rid of my CD collection. If I was a nomad, I'd probably put it into storage. For, MP3s, or wotnot just are not the same as a physical format. If I had enough space for a set of decks, I'd be getting loads of 7" singles as well.

I've had two MP3s go pop on me. Oe was a 60gigger. If I hadn't had the physical formats as well, that could have been thousands of quid down the tubes. I don't like swiping stuff, using P2P if I wanted to replace it; although I often go on to myspace before buying stuff. I'd also get extremely paranoid about having years worth of music just on one HD, I'd have to have several HDs.

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Albums would be one of my vices. I'd never get rid of my CD collection. If I was a nomad, I'd probably put it into storage. For, MP3s, or wotnot just are not the same as a physical format. If I had enough space for a set of decks, I'd be getting loads of 7" singles as well.

I've had two MP3s go pop on me. Oe was a 60gigger. If I hadn't had the physical formats as well, that could have been thousands of quid down the tubes. I don't like swiping stuff, using P2P if I wanted to replace it; although I often go on to myspace before buying stuff. I'd also get extremely paranoid about having years worth of music just on one HD, I'd have to have several HDs.

Just dumped all my cd's and dvd's in the bin this year. If I want to listen to a song I find it on you tube.

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Nothing beats a finely bound book.

An interesting insight.

Do you think perhaps that bugs by nature are hoarders, fearful of relinquishing attachment?

I wonder if there are any Buddhist bugs. :unsure: (serious question btw).

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An interesting insight.

Do you think perhaps that bugs by nature are hoarders, fearful of relinquishing attachment?

I wonder if there are any Buddhist bugs. :unsure: (serious question btw).

More like a lover of quality and things that have permanence. A finely bound leather book can last for hundreds of years. Antique furniture has been made by hand etc etc.

I'll have none of this machine made, break in 2 minutes rubbish. We want solid, high quality items - things that last for generations and reflect the sweat of man (as opposed to the spark of a machine).

Edited by Errol

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  • 196 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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      • up 5%



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