How Digital Presentations Are Replacing Physical Collections

How Digital Presentations Are Replacing Physical Collections

New York Times Magazine's columnist Rob Walker concludes his series with some final thoughts on the objects we collect and how.

Timothy Ryan, PSFK Labs
  • 17 february 2011

Rob Walker‘s column Consumed first appeared in the New York Times Magazine back in January of 2004. His final column titled, “Websites That Collect Stuff So We Don’t Have To” appeared in last Sunday’s edition. In it, he offers some closure on the topic that he has been considering for the last 7 years; ‘stuff’, and how and why we collect it.

His conclusion, is that regardless of an economic downturn, stuff still matters to us, though our methods of its collection may have changed.

Websites like Things Organized Neatly and Collection A Day have come to replace tangible collections of stuff. The objects on these sites are often trivial; erasers collected from garage fairs or a pair of socks organized neatly, for example. But our need for stuff subsists, and it this way, we can collect stuff without actually having it clutter our living rooms, or our minds. He writes:

Best of all, we don’t even have to deal with these collections as physical things; we can simply enjoy them as digital presentations. It is everything we love about stuff — but without the stuff. In a reversal of the desire to have your cake and eat it too, we can consume these lovely objects and not-have them, too.

He offers one last concluding thought on the topic that has helped shape his career: “Possessions may not be the object of life, but life without objects would be a lot less interesting. Ultimately, we all may just really like having stuff.”

Rob spoke last year at our PSFK Conference in New York.  See video from his presentation here.



Transformable Table Maximizes Utility In Small Spaces

Design & Architecture
Op-Ed Today

Lighting’s Impact On Sleep: More Than The Off Switch

Jeff Patton, General Manager of Connected Home Products at GE Lighting, uncovers how lighting technologies can affect our sleep cycles

Retail Today

The Story Behind How LYNK & CO Created A Car Brand From Scratch

Head of Design Andreas Nilsson describes which values were most influential in determining the identity and design direction of the new auto company


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel Today

Architect’s Design Presents A Radically New Approach For New York’s Penn Station

The firm of Vishaan Chakrabarti has envisioned a bright community and travel hub in the heart of the city

Fitness & Sport Today

Editorial Roundtable: Building An All-Encompassing Performance Suite

WHOOP, ShotTracker, Rithmio, PlaySight, STYR Labs, EverybodyFights and Lift / Next Level Floats on the partnership opportunities available in health and fitness

Related Expert

Tara Greer

Digital Strategy

Health Today

Fantasy Game Responds To Each Player’s Emotions

The card battling venture measures responses through a Bluetooth clip to adjust the experience accordingly

Luxury Today

Carry A Map Of NYC On A Handbag

The bag from Bottega Veneta has been designed exclusively for Bergdorf Goodman to celebrate New York City

Technology Today

Roaming Robots Crawl Around Your Body To Do Small Jobs As You Go About Your Day

A new concept wearable developed by researchers at MIT and Stanford are fully functional bots that live on your clothing


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Creative Leadership Expert: Experiencing A Seismic Shift From Brand Loyalty To Interface Loyalty

Marc Shillum, founder of Chief Creative Office, explains why product designers must rethink the way they capture consumer attention

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Europe Today

Runners Are Delivering Groceries To Parisians

French supermarket Carrefour partnered with a running group for fast and memorable deliveries

Children Today

DIY Kits Let You Create Your Own Cameras And Speakers

Computer-building startup Kano has entered the IoT space with a new set of original products

Syndicated Yesterday

How Fashion Became All About Fonts

Why a new wave of designs have put typography front and center on your clothing

Retail Yesterday

GM And Audi Are Experimenting With Car Rentals In SF

The automakers are trying something new to capture the segment of urban dwellers who don't want to own a car

Travel Yesterday

This Vertical Forest Hotel Will Improve The Air Around It

An architectural firm is creating a lush mountain lodging in China with so much greenery that it will actually clean the atmosphere

Work Yesterday

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

Europe Yesterday

This Company Believes Insects Can Provide Biofuel To Power Our Future

A Polish group is testing out a new factory concept that can provide a source of renewable energy, and even serve space missions

Entertainment Yesterday

Music Venue Caters To Virtual Reality Events

Boiler Room has launched the first VR hub for content creators to capture special footage for the masses

No search results found.