No. 02 — Pocket treasures 🌱 Digital Collectibles 🔑 State of Play
On pocket treasures in the world of pixels.
My name is Linda. I write a bi-weekly newsletter about computer science, childhood and culture - and there are 9912 of you listening. If you enjoy this issue, please share it with anyone you think may find it useful.
One of the projects I think about a lot is Melissa Kaseman’s Preschool Pocket Treasures. It is a photographic archive of the tiny magical objects found stuffed in the pockets of her son after each day at preschool. The series is charming and helps remind me how seeing takes time. In this newsletter, thoughts on digital pocket treasures.
To be two is to be extravagant and unconditional, to hold every magical piece of stone, flower and fluff with determination and admiration.
That’s what I think when I look at my godchildren and their pocket treasures.
At some point the real world playthings move to the digital world. We understand the pinecone and seashell collections on the shelf, but have a harder time defining vocabulary and patterns around online treasures. Especially this spring, many important childhood moments happened online. I wish we would learn to see their importance and pay attention.
So what are the pocket treasures in the world of pixels?
As a kid of the 90s, I remember downloading Spice Girls pictures, collecting free fonts, writing down handwritten links into a tiny notebook and organising mp3 files into folders Winamp would recognise. Screenshot memes, WhatsApp discussions and hard laboured gameloot are all similar examples of today. I’m curious to learn more about how we understand online treasures, materials and moments as more and more of our childhood has a digital element to it. (Will digital hoarding become a thing? I wish to see a Matthew Ball-esque analysis on the Digital Collectibles marketplace!)
This week’s activity is to go on an unusual scavenger hunt, collecting memories, moments and objects that spark (digital) joy. Ephemeral by nature, childhood treasures disappear, but by asking the child to share stories of importance, documenting their creations and playing with the treasures as we play with stones or shells, we communicate to children that their ideas matter to us.
In computer science, a linked list is a linear collection of data elements whose order is not given by their physical placement in memory. But here it is a selection of things I’ve been reading lately.
New York Times has a series of essays called The State of Play. There is one on coding education gone wrong, one on quarantine and playtime and a beautiful one on how games are girls’ algorithms and the musical play of black girls.
As lockdown learning starts again, The Kids Should See This is my recurring recommendation on free, high-quality, carefully curated YouTube videos, podcasts, books, games and toys for curious minds of all ages. Consider becoming a member - when schools closed TKSST’s traffic more than doubled and the site is run by a team of one, the marvellous Rion Nakaya. My favorites? Cut paper maps with Christian Robinson, Design Ah in English, Lil Buck at Foundation Louis Vuitton and Silly Robots.
George Dyson’s new book Analogia is a book I wish I could write about computers, nature and history. (I love how he keeps returning to Leibniz over and over again in his books). Another book recommendations is The Nature of Play by Delfina Aguilar. The website has some great activities for nature-based play with kids.
I’m hoping to surface and share stories from all of you and I’d love to see your worksheets! Or hit reply and answer me:
Do you have digital pocket treasures? Links, pictures or digital gaming items you treasured in childhood and kept returning to?
Are you a digital Mari Kondo or a hoarder? Are you folders organised, desktop empty and inbox at zero?
How would you introduce digital pocket treasures for a classroom?