Our Future of Things

A Cottage of Stuff

I’m always happiest when I have my things around me. By things I mean mainly books and DVDs. We were sitting yesterday binging Outlander,¬†as has been the case of late, and a few of my DVDs kept on catching my eye. It made me wonder what it would be like to live with everything digital.

We subscribe to all the streams. The many forked river of on demand television. Now TV, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video all sit comfortably on our Playstation. Don’t get me wrong, this is great. To have thousands upon thousands of things to watch at our fingertips is really quite incredible.

But I love a physical copy. The argument rages in my day to day life as well, a lot of university libraries try to go towards the digital library, all eBooks, digitisations, epubs and the rest of it. Whereas a lot of students will always prefer a physical book to study from (though admit an eBook is handy when exam time comes and copies are all out).

I do empathise with the physical leaning. I have a large collection of records, and there’s just something a bit more pleasurable about the physical act of putting a record on than scrolling through Spotify or being led by an algorithm to pick music. Algorithms are never romantic.

There’s something nice about running your hand along the spines in Waterstones than being taken down a path of ‘things others bought’ on Amazon.

Having a selection of things around you, a selection of favourites is quite comforting. They catch your eye, you recall things, the last time you watched your favourite film with a loved one. Or the holiday you read A Clash of Kings while stuffed from all inclusive delight, sipping rum cocktails in Gran Canaria.

And maybe others do but I just don’t get that from files on a computer, or apps on an iPad. What if your favourite film leaves Netflix? No one can sell my DVD to another channel. How can you spurn the eternal conundrum of picking physical books to take on holiday, like choosing between friends to share an adventure with? How cold to say ‘oh it’s fine, they’re all on my Kindle. I’ll pick later’. Where’s the excitement? A Kindle won’t collect sand in the pages and go a bit nice and crinkly and loved sitting next to the pool.

In a digital world I quite enjoy challenging the push towards having all our things, all our stuff on a single device. When we live in a Minority Report future, and everything is white and shiny, me and Charlotte will be sat in our cottage somewhere away from it all, sipping tea and climbing over mountains of stuff to get out the door.

And I wouldn’t have that any other way.

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