Postcards to the future

Designer & blogger Russell Davies has an interesting post about sharing, but he is mistaken about books.   He says:

A mixtape is more valuable gift than a spotify playlist because of that embedded value, because everyone knows how much work they are, of the care you have to take, because there is only one. If it gets lost it’s lost. Sharing physical goods is psychically harder than sharing information because goods are more valuable. And, therefore, presumably, the satisfactions of sharing them are greater.  I bet there’s some sort of neurological/evolutionary trick in there, physical things will always feel more valuable to us because that’s what we’re used to, that’s what engages our senses. Even though ebooks are massively more convenient, usable and useful than paper ones, that lack of embodiedness nags away at us – telling us that this thing’s not real, not proper, not of value. (And maybe we don’t have the same effect with music because we’re less used to having music engage so many of our senses. It’s pretty unembodied anyway.)

No, it’s not that we value physical objects like books because we are used to doing so, nor (a really silly idea, this) because of some form of long-range evolutionary determinism.  (If our pre-literate ancestors only valued physical objects, why did they paint art on cave walls?)   No, we value books because they are a tangible reminder to us of the feelings we had while reading them, a souvenir postcard sent from our past self to our future self.
And no African would agree that music is unembodied. You show your appreciation for music you hear by joining in, physically, dancing or singing or tapping a foot or beating a hand in time. Music is the most embodied of the arts.

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