Branding Electronics

I have a funny relationship with my consumer electronics. I am typically very emotionless and cold toward them — they’re disposable, they’re replaceable, and they’re not going to be with me long so there is no point in making a phone or an iPod a personal and prized object. I feel apathetic about them. They are, on the whole, entirely unloved.

This changed with the netbooks. We both have the same make and model of HP Mini so without a distinguishing mark they could easily be confused. To distinguish my netbook from Eric’s netbook, I bought a gel sticker. Mine is an ancient 1920’s-style typewriter bought from GelaSkins. I like it. I like how it looks. I like to pull it out of its bag and admire it for a moment before opening the lid.

I have formed this bizarre attachment to my netbook. It’s not just mine but mine. It feels a little silly because the netbook was bought specifically so I could dispose of it at will. Broken? Replaced. Outmoded? Replaced. Now I will have to buy an identical gelaskin for the next one for that feeling of continuity and feel a little silly that it won’t be Right and Proper until it is branded with My Mark which, admitted, I bought off a website.

I don’t want to decorate my iPod, which I have had for years, or my Storm, which I dislike on a visceral level. But I need to decorate my Kindle to make it mine. Reading off the Kindle doesn’t have that nice ego boost of snobbishness of showing off the cover of the book I am currently reading (“Look I can read Spinoza aren’t I special?”) so I need something. Now I am branding the back of the Kindle with artwork. Ralph Steadman to be precise. Once my skin arrives I will feel slightly less dorky reading a book off a flat, dull, yellowish and silver device.

I cannot tell if this is indicative of my relationship with books, my evolving relationship with electronics, or a deep need to have a cover of a book for all to see while I read it. Nonetheless, having a skin on my Kindle makes me feel somehow better about the device. Marginally.

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