PERSONAL COLLECTING AND THE INTERNET: A growing collective resource?

Lucy Elder, MA Museum Studies candidate, Institute of Archaeology, UCL
Collection on bookshelf, 2009
I am currently researching personal collecting and the relationship that develops between these collections when put online and when offline in a domestic setting (Miller, 2001). This starting point will eventually become the focus of my MA dissertation, and will hopefully go a small way towards attempting to understand and explain how the internet can be utilised as a facilitating tool for personal collecting. This will be as seen from the perspective of the mass digitisation of material culture objects in the twenty-first century, and a growing interest in personal collecting (Martin 2001, Pearce 2002).
Research will provide case studies of current models of online exchange and consumerism, (e.g eHive, Collectors Weekly) and will identify the fascinating ways in which these models might often reflect the movement of collections between private and public spaces offline. This is illustrated through the observance of the auction, the garage sale and the storage facility (Cwerner, 2003; Herrman, 1997).
What I am particularly interested in at this stage of the research is getting a sense of how personal collectors collect online, that is, if they do at all. How are collecting sites used? Do they exist for formal or informal collectors? Do collectors replicate offline exchange/consumer collecting practices, or have new ones developed? (Miller 2008) Do collectors feel a motivation to put their objects online, or is this action transitory: a means to a sale or exchange?
Brush collection, 2009
I am searching for collectors to interview, both those who are extremely formal and/or entirely informal in their collecting practices. I will chat, discuss, write letters, email and receive any criticism or thoughts on the matter.
I also have an online collecting survey, which I would like to get as many responses to as possible. I would be most grateful if any readers could take five minutes to fill in the survey, or just link this page onto someone who can.
Click Here to take survey
Below is a link to my website, The Lyric Road Archive. This was a very basic attempt to represent an idea of how people’s personal collections could be transferred from a domestic setting to a single resource on the Internet.

Leave a Reply