Essay: The digital death of collecting

How platforms mess with our tastes. –Kyle Chayka

I have often bemoaned when a service I use changes their interface, as it’s often an indicator that their changing focus from one aspect of the service to another. Looking at the software that I use most often, I found that the ones that haven’t changed very much since I started using them are the most used, and I distinctly remember when Facebook changed their desktop layout it completely killed the site for me and I only stop by from time to time to check in on some fish tank groups or LEGO groups that I might be interested in. Somewhere along the line both instagram and Facebook changed what they were about and whatever their new goals might be, they’re outside of what I’m interested in.

Kyle Chayka makes some great points using examples that drive home the need to collect things yourself, using software that you’re in control of. I still have the installation files for Winamp, and have purchased all my music so it’s completely mine and that interface will likely never change, at least until I find something else that works better and what could? For music all I need is something to randomly play tracks that I’ve personally rated. I don’t need to see what the global rating is, or get suggestions from my music app, I get those throughout my day from a thousand other sources, from family and friends.

This same issue is happening with WordPress too, just in a negative way. This time last year the dev team was absolutely adamant that the post creation UI for WP was going to change drastically, something they’ve been trying to get done for several years now (first pushed out just a couple weeks before Christmas, so thanks for that guys), but since it’s open source software, I’ll never truly be forced into the change.

My digital book and comic books collections for the most part are all through Amazon, either Kindle or Comixology.  The books, I generally usually do not go back and re-read ebooks, if I like it that much I’ll buy a physical copy, and for the comics I’ve found that I absolutely hate reading them on a digital device with the locked in reader, the unstable experience, and the absolute dumpster fire of the economics of it all.  I can’t even find the emotional effort to read the digital comics I have downloaded locally from purchases on Humble Bundle, too busy with the physical books I get every week and I haven’t been able to find a reading system to catalogue them that syncs across PC/Android/Web.

Another example is movies, but here I have to admit that I’m enamored by digitally collecting movies, it’s so much more space efficient and easy to consume than physical media.  Again though, if I like something enough to watch it several times, I’m going to buy the physical media so I don’t get the experience ruined by either a bad connection, a changing interface, or the service just straight up changing the content somehow like they’ve done with The Office or Babylon 5.  Why I’m ok with 20 long boxes of comics that i look at once very 10 years but  not 20 bankers boxes of dvds, I’ll never know.

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