The collecting impulse

I found this quote while sifting through some of my old notes for my PhD research (I’m almost finished writing, and thought I’d better go back to see if I missed anything).

A picture in an album has a different function to a picture in a shoebox. Both are building blocks for personal memories, yet whereas the album is formatted as a narrative, the shoebox is a deliberately unsorted collection. 1

The idea of ‘sorted’ vs ‘unsorted’ collections stopped being so directly important for my PhD a while ago, but it is something I want to come back to… I think it has a lot of relevance for how we use technology to manage things like photo collections, or collections of any kind really. The default mode always seems to be sorted into narratives, I wonder why this is?

  1. Dijck, J. van, 2007. Mediated memories in the digital age, Stanford University Press.