Significant Objection

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I’m a big fan of BBC Radio’s A History of the World In 100 Objects series, so I am supremely disappointed and irked that my attempt to join in the series’ interactive Web feature invitation to “add your object” to a kind of crowd-curated collection has been rejected!

I was inspired in part by this video in which a guy explains the significance of an ordinary-looking bar of soap — it is of course the object’s story (it was from the World Trade Center). Probably many listener submissions have stories attached. What could be a more useful addition to this discussion, then, than a Significant Object?

Specifically I thought the Mystery Object would be a really cool thing to add — as I argued over on, this may have been the most Significant of the Significant Objects to date: “By eliminating the object itself from the equation until after the bidding has concluded, this auction sells invented Significance in its purest, most uncut form yet.”As you know, the Mystery Object + Ben Greenman Story sold for $103.50.

Surely that’s a compelling finding to throw into a discussion of what objects mean! So I followed the directions and gave it a go. And sadly, BBC Radio disagrees with my assessment. In my description I explained the project, and I guess that’s why I got this message: “Unfortunately, your Mystery Object has not been put on the site. This is because it has broken our house rules on advertising.”

Advertising? It’s not for sale! (Or not from us anyway.) Maybe an S.O. being added to the online collection would have to come from one of our buyers who’s willing to go through the rigamarole (as I did) of registering on their site.

Ah well…



Rob Walker is the author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, and writes the Consumed column for The New York Times Magazine.

2 thoughts on “Significant Objection

  1. Probably so. There was a space for a link and I direct-linked to that story/object, so it wasn’t for sale, but maybe they saw that we had OTHER things for sale and thus concluded we were a store. And I guess on some level … we are a store. Sort of. Kind of. In a sense.

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