Yes, I’m an obsessive and compulsive collector of media that matters most to me: music, movies, books, video games. It takes a lot of shelves to store all this stuff. I’m always needing to put up more shelves. But these lines and lines of media covered shelves are the wallpaper of my life. These are the things that surround me, the things that make me feel comforted, feel at home, feel like I am in my world. I can take any one of these items off my shelf, and just looking at the artwork or reading descriptions on the packaging can evoke happy feelings. I get giddy and squeal with glee when I sift through my collection and spot an item that I have in my possession that is currently rare and not in print. And really, aren’t all these forms of media on their way to not being ‘in print’ ever again? As everything moves onto the oh-so volatile format known as digital, we are being denied our chance to cherish anything in physical format. Sure, these items should remain attainable at any time with a simple download, but that sort of takes them from infinite appreciation pieces to mere quick fixes.
I just can’t fathom a minimalist home décor! There. I said it. I’d feel so empty, so lacking in self-identity. My surroundings and everything in them are reflections of who I am. Naturally, the music on those CDs, the words in those books, the visuals on those DVDs, and the interactive experience of those videogames are the real meat of each product, but their physical encasements are also a huge part of what defines each of them individually for me. They aren’t just names on a list in a folder on my computer.
If (when) hard formats die completely, I’ll do what I need to still be enriched by the essence of my favorite media, but I’ll never be happy about the idea of paying good money for a file. I’m hopelessly devoted to my collections, which I can physically touch and look at and read about in packaging blurbs, liner notes, and instruction manuals, each bringing back vivid memories, a crucial part of the overall experience and key moments in my life. I’ll simply never have any emotional attachment to a file or be thrilled to receive a file as a birthday or Christmas present—in part because that file and all my other files will most likely be lost in a hard drive crash someday. Yes, I know, I can make backups of everything—but if I’m just going to end up with loads of recordable discs, hard drives, USB sticks, and flash drives stacked up on shelves collecting dust, I’d rather have an official product with pretty packaging and a longer shelf life in the first place instead of ugly unstable computer appendages covered in sticky labels or masking tape scrawled with titles written with Sharpies. Whoa. Just got flashbacks to my early days of preservation on VHS tapes…but isn’t technology supposed to be bringing us out of the past?