Digital Patina

Jonas Carlsson:

Patina is the surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use. A lived-in kitchen, a Leica camera, a leather jacket—they were all once brand spanking new but they all get better with time. Scratches and stains symbolize memories and experiences, and they build up on a durable, perpetually relevant item to create character, or patina.

Digital patina comes in the form of populated message boards, article comments, product reviews, the tally of a weight loss communities’ number of pounds lost, the lists of email addresses of past recipients embedded in email forwards. Social media has a particularly apparent patina. Just like a scratch on a sofa represents an event and a memory, every photo, poke and update on Facebook represents an experience, a moment. Accordingly, each social networking account has its own individual patina. Someone who has been on Facebook for five years with 800 friends has developed a different patina than a user signed up for an account last week and has 50 friends.

This is one of those timeless observations that helps us understand how our digital identities relate to the non-digital parts of our lives. Your blog can age and develop a nice patina just like the furniture on your balcony or in your garden.

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