This is one of those “duh” studies, like “doctors who are totally stoned more mistakes in the operating room than doctors who are not,” but I do understand the value of conducing formal research to quantify cultural information.
“A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff,” the comedian George Carlin famously observed. But a lot of stuff that often is cherished — printed books, photographs, music CDs — is being replaced by electronic equivalents, such as e-books and iPod downloads. And computers are generating artifacts that have never been stuff — social networking profiles, online game avatars, Foursquare badges— but can hold meaning.
If a house is a place to store your stuff, then a mobile phone might be considered a treasure box that gives you access to your stuff, the interviews revealed. The “placelessness” of virtual possessions stored online rather than on a computer often enhanced their value because they were always available. One 17-year-old participant said she uploaded all of her photos online so that she could access them whether she was in her bed or at the mall. “Obviously, I can’t look at them all and that’s not the point,” she said. “I like knowing that they’ll be there if I want them.”