Your Souvenir Barcode


In 1973, a nine-year-old Paul Lukas went to see a Mets baseball game, keeping the ticket to remember the day – an experience he’s not likely to have again:

I no longer save my tickets like I did when I was a kid. But even if I were still inclined to save such things, the 2013 ticket isn’t a particularly pleasing keepsake. It’s printed on an ordinary sheet of paper, it has no design flourishes other than the Mets logo, and it isn’t very official-seeming. The fact that the Mets felt the need to emblazon it with the words “THIS IS YOUR TICKET” speaks to how un-ticket-like it is. Like every other ticket these days, it’s really just a bar code delivery device. I suppose I might be inclined to save it if something historic had happened at this game — a no-hitter, say, or a single player hitting four home runs—but it still wouldn’t have the satisfying feel of something that could be framed or put in an album.

His broader point – and a counterpoint from a reader:

[T]he real cost of digital ticketing isn’t just the loss of nicely designed physical items. It’s also the loss of documentation, the loss of personal totems that serve as touchstones to past experiences. Of course, digital tickets are documented too, since every ticket purchase and turnstile scan ends up on a hard drive or server as more data to be mined. But that’s not the same as having an envelope full of stubs that you can pull out of the drawer whenever you like.

Update from a reader:

While we no longer have the physical momento of a ticket, we have digital artifacts that can be more powerful. Any photo I take with my phone at a ball game is instantly backed up with date and location information attached. I can instagram the event and pick a filter to match the mood. I can Vine a video or post about it to Google Plus or Facebook. In short, I can curate the moment the way I choose.

(Photo by Jeff Marquis)