Meaning in Digital Data

In order to answer the question how digital data is becoming meaningful I compared the properties and benefits of digital and physical objects. (more information can be found in the book “The Digital Afterlife” pg. 16)

Some insights I had:

Tangibility:
Physical objects are tangible and can be held in the same way over generations, as a result owners can physically connect with each other. Digital object, in contrast, are intangible, to actually hold a digital object a device (like iPad) is needed. Therefore the meaningful digital data itself can never be held and the owner can only connect with previous owners through content.

Age:
Physical objects can break down and show age, that points out that the object has survived time and events: it tells a story. Because digital object do not age, they do not show this quality, but meaning can be added by additional information (metadata) which can grow over time.

Space:
Physical objects are taking up physical space, which can become a visible place in someones life. Digital objects require minimal space and is not necessarily visible, however the act of revisiting a digital object can be a good opportunity to create a meaningful experience.

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