How Significant are Digital Objects?
Playwright and programmer Llewellyn Hinkes has a brilliant essay over at The Morning News which explores how people tend to assign and associate memories, emotion, meaning and significance to physical objects – what he describes as a kind of fetishisation. And he wonders about the decreasing value and significance we place on all the digital, formerly physical objects in our lives.
In one insightful passage, Hinkes talks about why the tangible holds so much value for people:
there is something very primal in coveting and collecting things. It’s more akin to a low-level obsessive-compulsive desire for memories. Having memories stored in a physical medium, like a book, is immensely satisfying. I have an old paperback copy of Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach sitting on my bookshelf that’s torn to bits. It’s missing its cover and the spine is falling apart. When the spine finally disintegrates, I’ll probably just use a rubber band to hold it together. Trying to read the book in this state would be impossible, yet it’s one of my prized possessions because of its connection to a point in my life, like a tattoo made of wood pulp.