Three things worth reading/watching about how we act in a digital world of goods

March 26th, 2011 § 4

1. A man explains how he put all his possessions online and sold basically everything, in order to live a “minimalist, digitally-centered life”. (Watch »)

Also, he seems terribly smug about it, probably in part due to the “Oooh! You are CRAZY!” tone of the presenter, who apparently came straight from year 2000 (“You’ve digitized ALL your music…?”). What this man’s done, obviously, is to take his bachelor’s pad to its extreme consequence, where he erases everything in it that can signify anything about him. Women (and gay men, see Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) are traditionally thought to be the family specialists in the symbolic language of consumer goods – knowing and appreciating what a pair of shoes or yellow walls say about you, compared to the traditional male stereotype who “don’t know what they want”, or “don’t care about how it/he looks”. Everytime someone gets attention in media for leading an ascetic, digital life, it’s a man – usually of the badly dressed, geeky internet start-up entrepreneur variety.

I’d say that escape from this difficulty is a part of the temptation to sell all your shirts (including, yes, the “Unidentified Robot t-shirt”).

But don’t think this is an easy way out, oh you worn-out ironic t-shirt wearers who roam the internet. Because if my research isn’t completely wrong, girls and better dressed men than you are quickly moving symbolic value online too, and you’ll be lost again. Look at this, for example:

2. An NYT article about Polyvore (read »)

It’s a year old, but it’s a good read. Polyvore, the site where you can appropriate designer clothes and other items by putting them together in image sets, has two million users, by the way, did you know? (In related news, Polyvore wants to make fashion more data-driven, which is yet another opportunity to ponder if one should do an Apple 1984-style uprising against the tyranny of the crowd, or try to find another level of creativity on top of the giant pile of user data. Let’s go with the latter, shall we.)

3. Janice Denegri-Knott on how we act on Ebay, among other things (read »)

I couldn’t find an original article that didn’t require uni access, but this second-hand account will do fine as an introduction to Denegri-Knott’s research on digital virtual consumption.

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