Physical Properties in a Digital Universe
I do business in a virtual world.
There is no brick-and-mortar version of the TicketPrinting family of websites. We exist solely on the Internet; dependent on a digital interface. One of our sites, TicketRiver.com, deals exclusively in intangibles, selling event tickets virtually and collecting payments the same way. We deal in objects, but until we print and ship, these objects exist only as digital files; ticket templates and customer proofs.
We’re not the only ones. Consider some of the most popular online markets: Ebay, Amazon, Zappos—these stores exist solely in web form, using images to sell objects. Even items whose physical presences were once considered functional necessities have been translated into bits and bytes: think e-tickets for airline travel; Instagram for photo albums.
Increasingly, we work and play in a digital world, but we still live in a physical one, and, despite the appeal of colorful images and intoxicating sounds, we still desire (and require) actual, tactual rewards.
In short, we like our stuff.
Even if we telecommute, working from home, as many of us increasingly do, we want clothes—new clothes, stylish clothes, clothes that make us feel good about our physical selves.
And how do we access the digital wonderland? We love our gear: iPhones or Androids, the fastest computer, the smallest one, the most powerful. The MP3 players and digital cameras and latest technology: the things we can touch and hold, which help us feel connected to our world in an intangible way.
Our physical needs are still greater than our digital desires. We may trick out our own online worlds or bling out our personal pages, but first we need homes to live in, furniture to sit on, art to hang on the walls.
My business, like many others, lives at the intersection of digital and physical worlds. Our virtual box office technically eliminates the need for our ticketing service—after all, our customers could simply check IDs and cross-reference them with a computer-generated list of paying guests—but instead, this service increases our business. Our customers no longer have an objective need for our product, but the subjective need remains. Nothing else can match the special nostalgic and tangible quality of beautiful souvenir tickets.
Now, more than ever, we need our things to ground us in the real world. Those printed tickets—thousands of them shipped out every day—are there to be touched, carried, folded, ripped, and saved. Rather than fearing the future, dealers in real goods can take heart in the knowledge that we are physical beings, still connected to a physical world, with both a need and a desire for physical objects