Hold onto your assets!

Now here’s a serious consideration for all the scavengers amongst us.

I was brought up respecting the mystery and romance of second-hand shops, the unwanted-treasure potential of jumble sales. And more recently I discovered the enduring hope associated with the thought of a good car boot sale.

What’s going to happen in the future with a dearth of second-hand books and music?

They’ll be humbly and invisibly residing on the dead hard-drives of the future or worse still floating in planet-killing cloud megaservers of corporate technology giants. A corner of the cloud which will be forever our imagination, but out of sight and out of mind.

I’m not sure who has the stats, but if you look at ownership of books and music in digital format (versus the actual items sitting on people’s bookshelves), now and compared to ten years ago, we can all guess the trend. Which is only going to speed up with tablets and e-readers ubiquitous…

More people, smaller spaces to live in. All the storage runs out quicker. We’re in the peak charity shop age now, and once we’ve given them away, they’re gone forever.

(Unless like me you are buying up everyone else’s junk – perhaps I’ll have that secondhand bookshop one day?)

Or… maybe the user-experience gods will bestow upon us fabulous serendipitous interfaces replicating not just the limitless choice which we have now but the joy and fear experienced in the junk shops and jumble sales of the past?

But just to keep in the negative vein, I think the inherent formula is shot. In the past the excitement was that you found a ‘physical’ bargain no-one else had. With digital replication, that’s gone as well.

I hope we keep sharing around the wonderfully packaged vinyl and dog-eared manuscripts for as long as we can. And if anyone has a dvd version of the movie Coup de Foudre (dir. Diane Kurys, 1983) please get in touch (not yet available on UK Netflix!).

Photo credit: 5th Dunstable Scouts Jumble Sale – 2 March 2013!

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