Show me your desktop

Dear friends,

As archivists of our own lives, we rely a great deal on digital storage and its searchability to collect, organise, and retrieve data. This data consists of personal files, ephemeral links, and a variety of digital clutter — we collect more digital stuff than know what to do with, or keep track of. Some of us are more prone to digital hoarding (or what Jane Bennett likens to ‘the call of things‘), while some of us sort and file systematically if not obsessively (to perhaps resists or conceal this same call).

The ‘Show me your desktop‘ project is an ongoing collection of screen grabs that expose our digital habits and hoards. But the desktop also reveals more than this through the dis/organisation and disposition of files and folders and their juxtaposition with the background — it is a window into our personal lives, procrastinations, priorities, current obligations, to-do lists and so on. But, it is also, at the same time, a revolving picture frame, pin board, and canvas. The screen grab of a desktop allows us to pause on that moment, and produce (arguably) the most intimate of virtual self-portraits.

The screen grabs in the collection are meant to capture the entirety of your desktop area, and are intended to capture the desktop as is (i.e. not altered for the sake of this project). My goal with this ongoing collection is to transform the collection into commentary via installation, book, moving image — as well as to use these screen grabs as material support for academic writing about the notion of personal archiving.

To participate, please send me a screen grab of your desktop at:
To view the growing collection, please visit

Feel free to pass this on far and wide.

Thank you,


To take a screen grab, on a Mac, press command+shift+3.
To take a screen grab on a PC, hit ALT+Print Screen.

Collection, started Feb 2012 – Sept 2013: