Wednesday, May 31, 2023
HomeTechnologyTidy up my beautiful trash heap

Tidy up my beautiful trash heap

There’s really no other way to say this: I like saving crap. Receipts from favorite stores or meals, brochures and maps from travel, ticket stubs and clothing tags – if some fragment is from a cherished memory or even just carefully crafted, I stash it in a random corner of my home and almost forget about it Got it until I went looking for something else.

The urge to hoard papers can be irksome to the people I live with. Unfortunately for them, it’s also good for my job. At least one Wayback Machine tab is always open, and I have a staggering amount of screenshots, recordings, transcripts, and notes that bog down every device I own. But unlike physical ephemera in drawers and boxes, the files on my computer are just that: shapeless, searchable, not littered on top of the dresser or forgotten in pockets and piles of books. The odds and ends I stash haven’t been a problem yet, but I’m finally starting to think about what I can actually do with them

– when we talk about extracting receipts on certain things , I don’t think it’s taken literally.

I have a lot of digital outlets at my disposal for archiving what I do with my time, but none of them seem to fit my precious pile of junk. I considered Instagram Stories—understated and casual, without cluttering papers and cute shopping bags out of place. But I’m not sure I want to share my gazes with others in order to file them. Once I take a photo, what happens to the physical evidence? I’m back at Square One.

I’m getting better at collecting scraps in one place.

A Moleskine notebook opened with the cover facing up. A cut open paper envelope is taped onto the front and back cover of the notebook. Photo by Photo by Mia Sato / The Verge

In the end, my solution was as low-tech as possible. Instead of coming up with a clever new way to preserve these trinkets, I grabbed glue sticks, scissors, and a blank notebook and headed to town.

Scrapbooking is an activity that people have been doing for centuries, and once you get started, you can see why it lasts. One of my favorite Instagram accounts, @paperofthepast, collects and documents vintage and antique scrapbooks dating back to the 1800s. Scrolling through the photos is beautiful and surreal and haunting, but I try not to linger too much on what the original owner wrote, lest I feel like an intruder. I didn’t really think about these everyday files surviving until I came across Instagram accounts.

Generations ago, someone was saving cigarettes, food package labels, and friends’ fingerprint-bound books. Now, 100 years later, that content is immortalized on social media. It feels a bit odd to be able to peek into a stranger’s private thoughts, but it’s surprisingly moving to see what people want to preserve, and the layout and aesthetic feel very modern and contemporary.

Scrapbooking has also been completely satisfying, even if the material inside doesn’t represent real life. For fake scrapbooking videos, it’s the assembly process that draws people in. Viral diary TikTok accounts like @senajournal create ASMR-level scrapbooking videos by tearing off stickers, ripping paper, and arranging snippets on pages—but the scrapbooks in question mostly come from stacks of decorative paper or look like are images torn from mood boards (some collages even include fragments of fake letters written in cursive). The pages look perfect, and there’s something magical about the whole exercise. Imagine someone finds a scrapbook after 100 years and pastes the letters beginning, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…”

inside There are very few things companies haven’t tried to digitize modern life, whether or not it actually makes sense to do so. From software that makes shopping lists to apps that track and share a user’s run, tech “solutions” keep popping up. It’s happening with collages, too: Last year, Pinterest’s invite-only mood board app, Shuffles, created a brief frenzy among young adults eager to use it.

Maybe I’m getting old, but so far nothing beats the physical experience of assembling and revisiting a book of my favorite things that I can hold in my hand. Each piece placed in its place feels like another memory being preserved; it’s hard to imagine clicking “Publish” for that sense of satisfaction. When it’s time to move on—from a chapter of life or out of this plane of existence entirely—I can dispose of my trash as I please. Hopefully my random bits and pieces won’t end up on a future stranger’s Instagram account, and definitely not stored digitally on some company’s data server. I prefer scrap in its truest form – irregular, imperfect, disposable if necessary.

I should really invest in some double sided tape.

A Moleskine notebook opened with the cover facing up. A cut open paper envelope is taped onto the front and back cover of the notebook. Photo by Photo by Mia Sato / The Verge



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Featured NEWS