While celebrity ownership offers a new kind of aura to mass-manufactured devices, however, it’s likely to remain less interesting to most of us that the purely personal: those devices that each of us have lived with, gathering dust in a draw, still bearing the knocks and thumb-smudges of involvement in almost every aspect of modern living.
Perhaps this is why I, at least, feel the urge to hold onto my old computers. Because, increasingly, the histories of our lives are also the histories of our machines: the experiences we have had with and through them. If we want someone in 2050 to understand the texture our lives, we need to be able to ensure their access to our devices: from apps running on original iPhones to Nintendo games consoles, Android tablets, mass-market desktops, and even those brick-like phones many of us first made a mobile call through. Without the hardware, you have only half the story.
Only a few of today’s digital devices will ever become collectors’ items; and most of those are likely to end up locked away from the world, alongside art, antiques and first editions. It’s the rest, though, that really matters. In a digital age, these are the building blocks of our individual histories – and hanging onto them may become one of the most important ways we tell the story of our selves.