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What kind of person are you?

Hope Stephan
Hope Stephan

Here's a fun exercise, if you're having a really, really slow day – or looking for a way to start a blog entry (ahem): Pop “there are two kinds of people” into a search engine.

Google gave me 8.5 million results, some profound and some pretty funny, with a lot of repetition and variation in the middle.

I've read lately about a new divide between people who want to own things and people who simply want access to them. I bumped into this twice last week, both times involving software.

First, Adobe – maker of Photoshop, Illustrator and a host of premium products used by designers (including the Business Journal) to create graphics and print products – announced it was no longer going to sell its products. Instead, it is adopting a subscription model. Stop paying, and you lose access to your ability to modify or create new work.

The upside, supposedly, is that you'll always have the latest version, the newest features. The downside? What if it's essential to your business and you're having a few bad months? Your software is now a fixed cost. You're stuck. And what if you don't need the latest bells and whistles – which could turn out to be buggy? Sorry, you're getting them anyway.

At least Microsoft still gives customers an option, though not ideal. When I bought my latest MacBook ("there are two kinds of people – Mac and PC …"), I decided to forgo Office for Mac and switch to Pages and Numbers. But I need Word for some projects I'm working on, so I hopped online the other night and went looking for it.

I can buy a bundled Office suite – Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- for a couple of hundred dollars and be done with it, or I can "subscribe" to that, plus a lot of other programs and features I don't need, for $9.99 a month, forever. Or until I decide I don't need it anymore. Or until the price goes up.

Am I resisting the wave of the future ("there are two kinds of people – dinosaurs and evolutionary wonders …") in wanting to plunk my money down and call my purchase mine? Yes, I want to think I can sell, trade or give away the thing I bought or even turn it into lawn sculpture if the mood strikes.

Like a book. Remember books?

I had a pretty heated discussion with a friend a couple of months ago about whether she really owns the books she paid for and downloaded onto her ereader. She hadn't heard about the infamous incident in 2009 when Amazon snatched two digitized George Orwell novels back from customers' Kindles. There was a copyright issue, but that's beside the point. First, if those customers had bought physical books, this never could happen. And second, what else can ebook vendors do after your purchase?

For one thing, they know exactly when you open a book, how long it takes you to finish it and how far you read if you didn't. Publishers collect this data and are using it to make decisions on what books to publish and promote. But I digress.

The point is, who owns that vast digital library you've collected? You can't sell it, you can't lend it, you may not even be able to bequeath it to your heirs.

On the other hand, you don't have to dust it, pack it when you move or worry about damage from fire, flood and the other hazards of physical life.

I haven't decided what to do about the Office software I want, but $9.99 a month seems pretty cheap.

The week ahead

Real Trends has identified the top real estate professionals in the country; reporter Jason Scott provided a preview here and follows up Friday with a more detailed look at the midstates's top producers.

We're well into summer, but networking opportunities abound in the midstate.

On the report front: Construction spending for May was reported up last week from the previous month – but not as high as analysts predicted. On Tuesday, we get the Homebuilders Index for June and, on Wednesday, we find out how housing starts are doing. Both are forecast to be up slightly. But mortgage applications, alas but not surprisingly, are moving against rising rates. Put together, it makes for a complicated snapshot of the industry.

The rewind

Are there just two kinds of people? Probably not, but here are a couple of quotes I came across that are worth sharing.

"There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there."

-- Indira Gandhi

"There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better."

― Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

And as Neil deGrasse Tyson reminded the world in a tweet last week, "There are three kinds of people in the world. Those who get math and those who don't."

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