How Storytelling Can Create Significant Objects

I love what Rob Walker (author of Buying In: What We Buy and Who We Are) and Josh Glenn (author of Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance) are doing with their Significant Objects project.

A writer is randomly paired with an object — purchased for a few dollars from thrift stores and garage sales — and writes a fictional story about the object. The object is listed for sale on eBay, along with the fictional story and the project back story. The winning bidder is mailed the significant object, along with a printout of the object’s fictional story.

A talented, creative writer invents a story about an object. Invested with new significance by this fiction, the object should — according to our hypothesis — acquire not merely subjective but objective value. How to test our theory? Via eBay!

The results of our experiment? If an increase in the thrift-store objects’ “value in trade” can be accepted as objective evidence of an increase in the objects’ significance, then our hypothesis was 100% correct. We sold $128.74 worth of thrift-store junk for $3,612.51.

In the first phase of the project, the net proceeds were given to the authors. In the present phase, all proceeds are donated to Girls Write Now. Perhaps, you should purchase a significant object yourself.

I build and nurture online communities as CEO of 2020 Social. Read my bio, interview me for a media story, invite me to speak at a conference or ask me how we can help you. E-mail me at [email protected], call me at +91-9999856940, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Slideshare.

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