There. You see it, right? That little blemish - a tiny mole on otherwise clear skin. It came from me awkwardly dropping my keys into my bag, where the impact upon hitting my (then-unprotected) Kindle broke part of the screen. No amount of refreshing will fix it. I’m not that interested in fixing it.
There was that story a while back about a craze for cracked iPhone screens amongst kids, and how you could get skins that simulated the effect. At first, that just seems like teenagers being stupid and succumbing to any trend (no matter how mindless), but the more I think about it, the more I can’t help but wonder if there’s something behind it.
I still own a lot of books. There’s my copy of Naked Lunch, dog-eared from months of research and re-reading, the spine a mess. To Kill A Mockingbird, which I relentlessly re-read at the age of fourteen, to the point where half the pages are loose now. The Norton Anthology of Poetry, so large and printed on bible paper so that I kept notes on the edges of pages - nothing appropriate to the texts, just ideas here and there when I was bored in lectures about Ben Jonson.
The thing missing from technology, at what we consider to be its best, is that there’s something cold and clinical to it all. Antiquarians cling to print books for a bunch of sentimental reasons, but none more emotionally motivated than the fact that books, when read, show signs of wear. A Kindle, or tablet, treated rightly, only needs replacing when the software becomes obsolete.
This sort of scuff - and even though it amounts to dead pixels, that’s how it feels - still allows for total readability (it falls in between the lines), but shows a little of that old wear and tear. It feels a little more like it could be mine, even if you wiped the contents. The bits of data inside always retain a certain level of coldness, but I own that scuff.