Making the Bed You Sleep In

January 2011

This piece by Frank Chimero is a must-read if you’re the kind of person who obsesses over computer setups, minimal workspaces, and simplicity. In fact, I’d suggest you read Frank’s piece if you’re the kind of person who owns anything.

Here’s Frank on ownership vs. access:

Access trumps ownership, because access denotes utility and ownership means maintenance. [But] if access trumps ownership, when should we own things? I’d say when they’re manifestly important, and only in the best format we can afford […] go buy those books that made you who you are, but buy them in hardback and the best copy you can find. The important books, albums, and movies are a little piece of you, and they deserve to be treated as such.

Totally agree. I save space and money by reading digitally (thank you, Instapaper! Thank you, Kindle!). Then, when I find a book that really speaks to me, I seek out the best physical copy I can find. That way, I don’t burden my bookshelf with stuff that doesn’t matter. Electronic books are content receptacles: a triumph of utility over beauty. Physical books, in striking a better balance between beauty and utility, have the potential to function as personal talismans.