4 photographs

At my department end of year party, hosted by my department head, I slowly made my way to the bookshelves. Lined with books. I love looking at other peoples’ book shelves. There is something so voyeuristic intimate revealing about what people read. I do this a lot — spend time examining a bookshelf, sometimes talking with my friend about the books, judging. I started thinking — you know, one or two Americanos in me and my mind wanders a bit much — of how certain things like bookshelves are so telling about us.

So I came up with an idea to make a blog where people (anonymously) submit pictures of 4 things:

1. Their bookshelves

2. The inside of their refrigerator

3. Their wallet, with the contents removed and lined up near the wallet [personal details blurred out]

4. Their computer desktop screenshot [1]

Then other people could comment on these things, conjecturing about the people behind the photos. What do the objects tell about the photographer?

This could be adapted for us teachers. Photographs of:

1. our desk

2. our gradebook

3. one of our tests

4. our computer desktop

(Are there other things that you think say more about you? I would say “our classroom” but I taught in 4 different rooms, none of which ever felt like my own.)

When I posted this idea on twitter, @vtdeacon suggested adapting it to be a “get to know you” start of the year activity for kids, and/or an end of year activity for kids too. (Where @vtdeacon suggests photos of their lockers, and I add in the idea of photos of their backpack: packed and unpacked — like the wallet.)

So heck, I think I’m going to try out the first idea (bookshelf, fridge, wallet, and computer desktop). I’ll post them of myself soon.

[1] I originally said 1 day internet history. However, that wouldn’t be a photograph.



  1. Re wallet: I have two credit cards (used to be one, but I wanted an emergency spare), and 6 library cards. I think that’s the opposite of what most people have.

    I think you’d like my bookshelves…

    1. I like this idea. I was thinking about it and you wouldn’t learn too much from me from my desktop. However, my Google Reader list would be interesting. I guess that’s not really a picture though.

  2. Sue, I have 5 library cards (one is also my student ID). 1 credit card & 2 debit cards. Not quite as good as your ration, but close enough to appreciate kindred spirits.

  3. @Jason Buell

    Install Desktop Google Reader and voila! A screenshot later and your sorted.

    I was wondering, is there one location we could post these? I really like the idea, tells you a lot about a person. My photos are all ready, I could post them on my blog, but was wondering if there was somewhere a little more collaborative.

  4. I don’t buy books.. i get em from the library.. so henceforth.. I have no bookshelf.. :(

    and i don’t really carry a purse/wallet..

    so I can’t participate.. :(.. all you folk are so intelligent.. oh well.. keep posting!.. I like this idea..

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