Note — Oct 03, 2021

The Digital Death of Collecting

Kyle Chayka considering the death of collections, how “the placelessness and self-erasure of digital platforms and the enforced passivity of the algorithmic feed have removed” some of the tactile and emotional experiences of assembling, owning, keeping, organizing, valuing and getting attached to collections.

He’s talking specifically of media, like music albums, photos, and books, which are now largely digitized and, more problematically, turned into services. Once again, the model of many internet companies transforms ownership into larger access for us and more control for them through making things simple and frictionless.

It doesn’t take away from his points but I would have liked his take on how the same internet has also enabled the collection of so many different physical objects through a global market instead of just running around a few local flea-markets.

It’s very difficult to be responsible for what we collect on the internet; we can’t be stewards of the culture we appreciate in the same way. We very literally don’t own it. […]

[O]ur era of algorithmic feeds might herald the actual death of the collector, because the algorithm itself is the collector, curator, and arbiter of culture. Not only does that represent a loss of agency and control, it’s also a loss of feeling.