This does spark wider issues of collections, though. I have a gut feeling that the sort of mind which enjoys keeping a journal, online or offline, is the sort of mind to enjoy collecting things. After all, a journal is a collection of thoughts and reflections upon experiences. I know I keep my collection of old handwritten diaries and note that I have hardly ever written in them, barring documents like Christmas card lists, since starting this LiveJournal.
Other things I have collected over the years:
Game show video tapes. 80% of you will probably raise at least one eyebrow at this; the Potteresque 50% of the 80% will probably be somewhat satisfied with an explanation that there exists a game show fandom with episodes of game shows as its canon. A very small number of shows have attained sufficient fan base over the years to build up their own fandoms, but most game show fans broadly tend to be dilletantes, most interested in the thrills that new game shows have to offer the world; one good new show with all its interesting ideas and thought-provoking new ways to play can match up to very many similar episodes of an established favourite.
At a guess, perhaps fifteen or twenty people on my Friends list are people I would consider to be in the game show fandom, most of whom maintain private collections. The game show fandom does have meetings - Google for Game Show Convention, passim. (Actually, they tend to be back in the day such that the more effective tool to research them would be Google Groups; the dear old alt.tv.game-shows newsgroup was the first place I regarded as a home from home on the Internet.) There are more comparisons to be drawn between the game show fandom and the other fandoms of the world. Heck, we could probably get the game show fandom into the notorious f_w if we wanted to, but we can surely live without. Besides, people would only say "there's a game show fandom?" for about 18 hours before it gets one-upped by something like the splinter Press Your Luck sub-fandom. Alas, I shit you not. *salutes Charlie O'Donnell*
However, I am definitely rather less of a game show fan than I was; new shows are far less likely to move in the directions I enjoy than I used to - though I'm still as capable of squealing in an unseemly fashion over a hot new idea as I ever was - and far more likely to move in the directions I don't enjoy. (See angsty but non-specific posts over the past year, passim.) I'm sure it's cyclic to an extent; the nasties have largely not been doing all that well and so have been appearing not so much because previous ones were successful but because previous ones weren't successful and might have been successful had some things been done differently. The wrong type of nastiness, if you will.
What's the essential appeal? Increasingly, I find it's just the simple joy of watching people having fun playing a good game, enjoying themselves and being happy. Of course, that's not nearly all that game shows have to offer, but many of my favourites succeed particularly well at this aim - not every time, by necessity, but when they do it well, they do it meaningfully well.
As ever, the size of any fandom depends on what you count. Would, say, a group of people who get together every week to watch Survivor count as game show fans? What if they watched Survivor and discussed Joe Millionaire among themselves as well? (Indeed, let's not get into the game show definition argument; if you want to refer to Survivor and its ilk as "reality shows", or anything other than game shows, feel free - but the game show fandom claims them as its own too. Well, some of the game show fandom does, anyway.) If there's an aspect of self-identification to your definition, I would point to 661 registered at this global (but 97% US-centric) message board and 377 subscribers to the ukgameshows Yahoo! Group. So, erm, it's a "sort of middle-sized" fandom.
I digress. I have a collection of something like 200 video tapes of game shows. They come from five continents (no Antarctica, no South America - and Africa's a bit of a cheat) and six decades (one 1959 show, one 1963 show, a little from the '70s and mostly recent stuff). For about six years or so I made sure to tape at least one episode of every new UK game show, but I haven't bothered for a while. Heck, even my tape list is a good couple of years out of date, because I was never all that interested in tape trading.
I'm glad to have this collection of game show video tapes, not least because game show video tape collections in the UK are very rare and I'm glad that someone is keeping a collection of them. However, I'm really not finding that I'm going back to watch the older shows for enjoyment in practice, even for shows I know that I enjoy very much. It's occasionally nice to be able to show people things that they vaguely remember from years ago, but this is extremely infrequent. Video tapes are big, bulky and inconvenient. I know some game show tape collectors have started to transfer their tapes to DVD, but that's not a route which appeals very much, not least as I have no DVD drive and the house very seldom uses its DVD player.
About thirty tapes (the first thirty or so of the "one of everything" collection) are currently with mrstrellis, who is capturing screen grabs for http://www.ukgameshows.com/ - a museum resource easily capable of meeting 99.9% of the public's requirements and interests. The site is notable also too for daweaver's weekly bulletin, also posted beautifully to ukgameshows. Iain does an amazing job with tremendous consistency and dedication; it's only a shame that the fandom isn't bigger so that the size of his achievement would be recognised by more folk. It's the equivalent of a really good weekly 'zine.
I am minded to dispose of almost all of my collection. There are a few tapes I'd like to keep the shows from, but I would be happy to consider trading VHS tapes for other media with copies of the shows on. (daweaver, must talk to you about DivX compression at some point.) Unfortunately, the UK side of the fandom is very small; the only objection about trading with the US side is (a) the cost of postage and (b) the old problem about the difference between NTSC and PAL video formats. There are still things I'd like to see from time to time, too - I've only seen the first fantastic series of Australia's The Mole, for instance.
I expect that my collection is of no interest except to game show fans already. It's also known that trading tapes for money is Not The Done Thing. (Possible exception to the rule: wonder if pro über-collector Bob Boden might pay cash money to absorb an interesting collection into his own? I suppose it might be worth asking...) Accordingly, I guess it's looking like rather a giveaway, but this isn't such a bad thing because (a) I already owe brigbother at least a double handsful of tapes from over the years and probably daweaver countless others too and (b) I've got most of the rest of the game show fans who I consider to be nice on my Friends list.
This isn't a rash decision; about 18 months or so, I decided that I probably wanted out at some point, and there has been very little over the last 18 months or so to make me want to change my mind. Accordingly, now is the time to start to implement the distribution part of the "getting out" process. Interested? Let's
Despite this, I'm wondering exactly what's going on on Super Millionaire in the US right at this moment, whether anyone is winning millions of dollars... (no spoilers, please - the show hasn't been broadcast to the West Coast yet!)
.net was either the first Internet magazine in the UK, or one of the first. Issue 1 was published either late in 1994 or early in 1995; it has been continuing at a steady thirteen magazines per year (twelve monthlies plus one "Spring" or "Christmas" issue per year) ever since. I have a complete collection of the magazine: every issue from number one to the most recent, number 121; every magazine, every free CD and probably most of the freebies. The last fifteen have remained unopened in their bags, which is an indication of how much I've been getting out of them. I meant to cancel my subscription shortly after issue 100, but forgot at the time. They were cluttering up the bottom of my clothes cupboard; the need for sock storage space has inspired me to deal with this once and for all.
Accordingly, I'm firmly minded to dispose of this collection; extra space is good, I'm not bothering with the magazine and money would be handy. As ever, the issue is how to dispose of the collection, not least because it constitutes about six cubic feet and is accordingly somewhat heavy. My first thought is to see whether it might shift on EBay; searching for ".net magazine" in the completed auctions reveals a load of single issues which did not sell - a bad start - but searching for "magazine collection" reveals that magazine collections often get sold for tens of pounds. Well, looks like it might be worth a try. Second thought: might there be any other better places to sell? QXL looks like a wasteland; the magazine has an online forum, but the AUP says "no commercial postings". Even if I'm trying to abandon my association with the magazine, I'd rather not annoy a forum and its moderators on the way out.
Third thought: are there any more interesting things I could do with a complete collection of .net magazines instead? I'm not thinking in terms of "build a little house", more in terms of Ambition 79: make a major donation to a museum. Granted, "nine years of magazines" isn't exactly major, but "a complete history of the Internet in the UK" is probably of at least passing interest. Can any of you bright folk think of some museum which might be interested in taking this as a donation? Money would be nice, but tens of pounds isn't going to change the world, and this is hardly going to rival the Wayback Archive as a piece for Antiques Roadshow. Imaginitive suggestions welcomed!
Assuming nobody has smart suggestions (and "I'll give you £x for them" may qualify as a smart suggestion here for sufficiently large x) then I'm minded to give EBay a punt. Questions for EBay veterans: as a first-time seller with very little idea of what the item is worth, do you have advice for me, please? I'm sure there must be some "how to avoid common EBay mistakes" and/or "how to maximise the value of the single item you're selling" fan sites out there - if you can point me to a good site with trustworthy information, that would be most welcome. I'm also sure that there are guides with this important information for sale on EBay, but I really don't feel like splashing out money for them. :-)
I have a pelmet of cute little ducks and about a square yard of floor space taken up with larger pandas. As is the only true measure of the size of a cuddly toy, three of them are the right size to hug with one arm and two of them are the right size to hug with both arms. However, they are all about 12 to 18 years old; some of them are rather sorely in need of a 10,000-cuddle maintenance servicing.
I am now at a stage of life where I have had neither need nor interest in a new toy to cuddle for many years, but still think very fondly of the inhabitants of Panda Corner. Nevertheless, approximately three times as much plush as can conveniently be glomped at once does strike me as a luxury in terms of floor footprint. There was a show about tidiness a couple of years back (the name the Space Doctor rings a bell?) and the expert's recommendation was that a person only ever really needs one teddy to cuddle. Gulp. The hot water bottle duck's future is assured, for he can claim practicality as well as looking happy and cute; as for the others, when I move to a smaller apartment of my own, I might have to find a niece or a nephew who I can trust with them. (Of course, being an only child makes this rather harder!)
I played postal games in about fifteen different printed 'zines between about 1996 and about 2001 or so. Many happy memories, but I've found very little desire to play games by mail recently - heck, even by e-mail. Admittedly this is largely because I can attend about as many board game conventions and meetings of the local games club as I'd like in order to get my gaming fix - and I'm finding that I'm requiring less of that than I used to, as well. (Not something which makes me happy.) The people who wrote them all are talented, caring and - for the vast part - deeply admirable. Again, at some point there's a longer post to be written about the difference between printed 'zines and online journals; to my surprise, I'm finding that my preference at the moment is shifting very strongly online indeed.
Certainly I'll be keeping my complete run of One Man's Rubbish, not least because that was the 'zine to which I contributed. (Happily, I have my parts - Games In Testing - in a rudimentary online form. Hopefully none of you will ever realise just how much I have been ripping myself off for content for this LJ. Hey, recycling is a good thing, right?) I also cherish the Up Around The Bends produced by the_maenad. However, there's still another couple of cubic feet, mostly with titles that mysteriously abbreviate to dubious things like SNOT and BUM, which might not make the cut some day. The tactic probably has to be "keep your favourite couple of issues to remember each 'zine by" - unless, of course, you know better.
Happily, the postal 'zine hobby is very well organised and there already exists an extensive 'Zine Archive, so the equivalent of '60s/'70s/'80s/'90s gaming LiveJournal will not be lost to history. Again, though, any suggestions as to what to do with the issues that I cannot justify the space for - or would the best plan be to contribute to the "here, take this!" plunder pile freebie box of old 'zines that seems to get bigger every convention, and hope that some young fogey can get as much entertainment from them in the future as I have done already?
OK, I really can't justify ring pulls; the rest were collections, this is an accumulation. Unless I have misremembered and have been kidding myself for twenty years, I am sure that I sneaked a look in my parents' Readers' Digests of the time about twenty years ago and read of one school that, wishing to give its pupils an indication of just how large a million really is, set out to collect one million ring pulls from cans of fizzy drinks. Upon reading this, I decided it would be cute to try to contribute towards their collection. Please bear in mind that I was probably not yet ten at the time.
Currently, I have about 7" x 5" x 5" solid of the things, which I would estimate as being about three or four thousand. No, I'm not counting. I will be proactively happy to give them away to anyone who has a more interesting thing to do with them than recycling. Then I can stop.
Of course, I could always write to Readers' Digest saying "Erm, about twenty years ago, you wrote about this school who were collecting ring pulls..."; they probably have a Craig Shergold Memorial department for dealing with just those enquiries. However, they will normally come from eighty-seven-year-olds. I think I will probably continue to collect these some day as evidence in case I ever need to attempt to claim state disability benefits due to being obsessive-compulsive. HHOS.
Everyone builds up their own library; I am no exception. Mine is nothing at all to write home about, though it has a decent collection of what are regarded as the modern classic games books. Does anyone like receiving random second-hand books? Giving gifts is a fine thing; giving second-hand gifts significantly less fine. (It's handy when you see something to give away on someone else's wish-list, though - then the good derived from the match-nature tends to outweigh the ill derived from the second-hand-nature. Yesno? Certainly it does here as a recipient, but perhaps that's not a safe generalisation...)
Music: well, the "My Music" folder is between 4 GB and 4GiB, but if I bothered to compress my lousy .wav files sampled directly from tape to .mp3s - or, better still, get proper .mp3 versions of the files in question - then that would probably drop by a half. Very few CDs. Indeed, probably more music CDs and compilations by people I know (2ndavemusic, missingdonut, catalana, others...) than from people who I don't know. Yet still I regard music not to be an especially important part of my life.
Games: about 70 board and card games, but this number has gone up by fewer than 10 in the last 20 months or so.
Old e-mail: lots, to the point where I need to go through and delete large old mail messages (typically mail containing big files) in order to get the mail backup onto one CD. It's nice to be able to filter whole mailing list subscriptions out from time to time and a good way of getting closure on a whole chapter, a whole mailing list experience, but doesn't save much space.
Maths: all my university coursework notes that I very much doubt I shall ever use, though I have sold on all my textbooks. Should I actually need to refer to hard maths ever again, I fear that I may conclude that I have got rid of the wrong one.
Computers: one Amiga 500, non-working; one Amiga 500, presumed working but untried; one Amiga hard disk drive that I still harbour ambitions of retrieving old letters and the like from some day; three boxes of old Amiga floppy disks that I vaguely mean to download an emulator and try again some day; one old Sinclair ZX Spectrum; about three or four boxes of tapes, ditto. Hmm. That's a sign of a losing battle, isn't it, when I have had the same "ooh, emulators!" intentions for two operating systems running?
Holiday souvenirs: most of the trips abroad I've taken have resulted in a document wallet full of travel details and happy memories. In Nimbus - 2003's case, there's a whole PumpkinPie.org carrier bag of nifty swag.
Game consoles: one Atari VCS - yes! - and about 15 games. Haven't touched 'em for about five years, at a guess, but the Fan Society is having an Old Video Games evening on Friday and this is the only opportunity I'll ever get to use 'em. *cough*lookingforGranny'sGardenfortheBBC
It's always interesting to think about your old collections and why you're no longer collecting them any more. I have made the definite, proactive decision to stop accumulating so much and get rid of many of my old collections, but there are some collections which stop by accident.
For instance, I have about two or three inches thick of train tickets from about ten years ago. At one point, I was thinking of running a prediction game that would depend in part on how much I spent on train tickets in the coming year. Oh, and I did once manage to substitute them for a standard deck of 52+2 in a particularly spirited round of The Chairman's Game. (Upon playing an Ace, I suggested that the next suit in play might be Darlington, or somesuch.) However, not all train tickets are the standard size, some need to be filed away as business expenses, and a whole wallet with Young Person's Railcard and about £25 of return train journey ticket once got lost somewhere between Manchester and Atlanta; this was the sort of collection for which completeness felt essential, so the motivation died at that point.
Likewise, I never recovered my book with a listing of the games I had played during 2003, so that particular collection of data stopped at that point, too; no 5-and-10 list for me in 2003. I haven't produced one for 2004, either; so much less point in doing so with a gap in the data.
From time to time, people criticise those who spend large amounts of time accumulating substantial positions in online games and the like. Virtual collections have some distinct advantages over physical ones in that they do not consume nearly as much space, that they are often not based on scarcity and they do not pose the same sort of disposal problems. Here's to virtual collections and digital packrats!