We collect

A collection
Photo from this blog post by Michael Shanks

We have always collected things. Somehow making collections is valuable to us. Most of the media we are collecting is moving or has moved to a virtual representation. Music is moving to the web, video and games will. And I’m sure books will move to the web as well. Encyclopedia and dictionaries already did.

In the end it will probably be a mix of economics and access that make things move to the cloud of information. Why buy a more expensive cd in the store if you can listen to the song right now?

For now we create virtual representations of our physical collections. For example the books you own on LibraryThing or Amazon or your music on

My ‘real-life’ public profile
We use the collections to express who we are. My books and my collected music tell me something about myself. Your collection of books is like a public profile that your real-life friends see when they visit your house.

I don’t know why we collect. For some people it is an obsession, see the movie in the end of this post.

When collections move virtual we get a new type of collectors. The librarians already unite at wikipedia to collect all the information that is valuable. We see creative artists playing with public sets of information through API’s and feeds. Making interactive installations or retrieve emotions and relations from large sets of data.

For journalists the information age is like a golden age. There is so much data public available that if you know how to make valuable collections you can generate news. A good collection of information can act like a news machine. Database journalism enables people to see patterns that answer or create questions.

I’m researching some things about collections for the website. Here are some videos I found that are really interesting.

The interactive installation “I Want You To Want Me”, by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, for their “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibition.

I Want You To Want Me explores the search for love and self in the world of online dating. It chronicles the world’s long-term relationship with romance, across all ages, genders, and sexualities, using real data collected from Internet dating sites every few hours.

The piece is presented on a 56″ high-resolution touch-screen, hanging vertically on the wall, and was installed at MoMA on February 14, 2008, Valentine’s Day.

My Map from Christopher Baker on Vimeo.

Email became an integral part of my life in 1998. Like many people, I have archived all of my email with the hope of someday revisiting my past. I am interested in revealing the innumerable relationships between me, my schoolmates, work-mates, friends and family. This could not readily be accomplished by reading each of my 60,000 emails one-by-one.

Instead, I created My Map, a relational map and alternative self portrait. My Map is a piece of custom designed software capable of rendering the relationships between myself and individuals in my address book by examining the TO:, FROM:, and CC: fields of every email in my email archive. The intensity of the relationship is determined by the intensity of the line.

My Map allows me to explore different relational groupings and periods of time, revealing the temporal ebbs and flows in various relationships. In this way, My Map is a veritable self-portrait, a reflection of my associations and a way to locate myself.

More info:

POSSESSED from Martin Hampton on Vimeo.

‘POSSESSED’ enters the complicated worlds of four hoarders; people whose lives are dominated by their relationship to possessions. The film questions whether hoarding is a symptom of mental illness or a revolt against the material recklessness of consumerism. When does collecting become hoarding and why do possessions exert such an influence on our lives?