In 1995, photographer Peter Menzel and writer Charles Mann published a coffee-table book called Material World. It had a great concept: go to families around the globe and ask them to pose alongside all their material possessions. The contrast between the stack of loot filling the entire driveway of a suburban California family and the few spartan implements owned by a family of herders on the steppes of Mongolia was, of course, striking. That book has always stuck in my mind as a unique look into the differences and similarities between cultures.
When I set up this photo (taken May 26, 2005), I was thinking that it would be fun to try the same thing again, but with the focus on digital possessions. What would you see if you asked a person in San Francisco or Seoul or Madras or Catalonia to gather up and pose with all of their gadgets (for the sake of consistency, let's say everything with a microchip in it)? I'd wager that almost everyone, even the Mongolians, has a few digital gadgets today, if only a radio or a cell phone. And a few people, like me, have a slew of electronic toys.
To explore the idea I decided to set up my own shot, showing all my digital stuff. This is the result.