What's in Your Bag? A Minimalist Edition


Inspired by Ellie Brown’s BAG Project, I’ve included a photo of my everyday carry in my “bag”. Brown’s BAG Project BAG aims to

“explore the duality between the way people characterize themselves in public and the
private contents of their handbags.”

Obviously, I do not require a bag in order to bring my cell phone or car keys to my school everyday. Often times these items are transported only in my jacket.

What is your daily need for the items in your bag? How might these items be considered "texts" and what do they say about you, the places you inhabit, the cultures with which you engage, and/or the activities you take up?

As an elementary technology teacher, the vast majority of my day is spent, of course, with technology. In a previous blog I’ve already detailed my definition of technologies and what I would define them as, a tool that we use to achieve a goal. In this sense, any of these two objects in my bag, my cellphone or car keys, are both technologies in their own respects. For obvious reasons, the car key gets me to work in Seoul, and for non-obvious reasons my cellphone is both a communication device and an extension of my memory.

In 2017, I experienced a TIA, Transient ischemic attack, which caused the majority of the left half of my body to go numb for several hours. After extensive tests with MRIs and CAT scans, thankfully there was no damage to my brain. However, I found that since this event I have not been a ‘quick witted’ as I used to be, nor is my memory what it used to be. To combat this, back in early 2018 I developed a system, the GSD system, in order to be able to augment my memory with the use of technology. Every task, regardless of how mundane (like grabbing butter from the grocery store) ends up getting documented into an App on my phone. I refer back to this app 30+ times a day as a reminder of what needs to be completed, things I may have ‘forgotten’ to do (although the terminology of forgetting has changed for me now with the use of the GSD System), and what is coming up next in my plate for the day.

Unfortunately, as I do not have much in my everyday carry bag, there is not much to continue on in this regard. Essentially, most of my life has moved into the ‘cloud’ for storage, efficiency, and searching basis.

What do the items in your bag say about the literacies you have?

Seeing as I have worked to remove almost all paper from my life, it is clear that being able to do so required me to have a high degree of familiarity with technologies, purposes, and how they can replace the things carried every day. It has even managed to replace by wallet with things like Alipay, Apple Wallet, and the Google wallet.

On top of this technological literacy, it also speaks to a literacy of cloud based content, and of the ability to interact with technology as well as understanding how to utilize these tools in order to increase day to day efficiency.

How does the narrative of the (private) contents of your bag compare with the narrative produced by image you have of yourself or the image you outwardly project?

It matches up relatively well. I present myself as a minimalist in nature, and the small nature of my everyday carry continues to portray this. If one were able to see the contents of my phone however, if the digital artifacts took up significantly more space than the Flash memory within my phone, it would be a sprawling mountain of information, almost in a stream of consciousness sort of way.

What would this same bag have looked like, say, 15 or 25 years ago?

15 years ago this bag would have been a school bag for Grade 4, would probably have included apples, and my homework. 25 years ago I was incapable of carrying a bag.

How do you imagine an archeologist aiming to understand this temporal period might view the contents of your bag many years in the future?

I hope to god that this archeologist does not have my phone password.