Scanning over someone’s bookshelf or record and CD collection can give you a good snapshot of his or her personality. One sly look when they’re out of the room can give you a good idea of their tastes, quirks, life history and guilty pleasures (probably Will Young and/or Jack Johnson).
You can also tell a lot about a person by the way they show off this stuff. If they’ve alphabetised, genre sorted, colour coded or got them in a fancy display case you can probably tell whether they’re a control freak, frustrated creative or take a particular pride in their collection.
Times are changing though and in the future this peek into someone’s personality will be an impossibility. With the digitisation of content and the consumer shift away from hard copy purchasing to digital transactions and cloud storage it’s soon going to be a lot harder to both express and assess personalities through hard copy content.
As an aside a huge downside to this (speaking personally anyway) is that this shift is going to make it harder to seem more clever than you actually are. After all, what’s the point of buying an e-book you have no intention of reading in a bid to be seen as clever when no-one’s ever going to see it?
Back to my point though which is that losing these views of a personality is a real shame.
The good news though is that there are digital equivalents of the bookshelf and record cupboard that can be mined for similar personality information. Good examples are the computer desktop and the smartphone app screen.
In the age of digital customisation and the social web, we often forget that these humble screens can sometimes give us a much more accurate view of someone’s true personality. For a start, users often assume that no-one else is ever going to see them meaning they’re less likely to project a fictional personality or partake in intellectual narcissism in these areas – an accusation frequently thrown at social network pages.
How many meetings have you been in where a total stranger has been presenting, but has unintentionally shown a bit of their personality by projecting their computer desktop onto the big screen while setting up? Not only can you sometimes see what someone has been working on, but also whether they’re unorganised and messy (have loads of docs all over their desktop), a control freak (totally clear desktop apart from 1 or 2 files), where they’ve been on holiday (desktop wallpaper), who their sports team is (desktop widget) or who else they’re going to be presenting to later in the week (names of documents).
The same is true of apps on smartphones. The personality of the smartphone user is often reflected in the apps they’ve downloaded. Are they a busy commuter (train and traffic apps), an early adopter (the latest cutting edge apps), a foodie (restaurant location, recipe and rating apps) or a music fan (music streaming and ticket apps)?
What do your computer desktop and app collection say about you?
Let me know below, I’m just off to uninstall iFart.