Status in the age of digital reproduction

My column for the mag this week is on status and art in the age of mass digitization — it riffs off a great piece that was in the wsj a while back about a neat thing a dude in Brooklyn is doing with a Sufjan Stevens tune he “won”. The broader context for this is what becomes of status signaling when so many signs of status rest on displaying “hard copies” of things that are easily digitizable. The solution, I argue, is a form of contrived scarce materiality or, alternatively,  ephemerality.

The question arose in a different context last week, when a handful of bloggers started wondering how they’d be able to show off what a cool/smart/profound intellect they are in the age of Kindle, when their literary tastes are no longer on display. Julian Sanchez has the answer:

Your Facebook profile will dog you like one of those floating Sims icons. You won’t just know what the girl sitting across the coffee shop is blasting on her iPod, you’ll be able to listen in. All the tech is actually here already, if not in quite the fancy form it’s implemented at the link above. All it would take is for someone to integrate the location-sensitive functions of an app like Loopt into the apps for Facebook or, and you’ve got a point-and-profile system.

The main thing to keep in mind is that this is not a “problem” in any meaningful sense. As long as people are status conscious, they will always find ways of signallng it.