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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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A Story About a Typewriter

Sure, it is made of steel, but you carry anything as light as 10 lbs. around the world as a reporter, author, or even war-time journalist, and it's prone to anything from minor scratches to irreparable damage. That's what makes finding typewriters like this one in great condition so challenging 100 years later. 

It might be strange to call a typewriter beautiful, but if a car of steel can be beautiful, why not a typewriter?

Mark Twain called typewriters “curiosity-breeding little jokers”—his correspondents were so curious as to be distracted by the fact he had and used a typewriter (learn more in this story from Heritage Auctions)—but my typewriter is petite, totally functional, and emblematic of artistically inspired ingenuity fit to purpose. And isn't it funny that one of its taglines back in the twenties was "personal writing machine?" And what would they say now about modern mobile phones? Or ChatGPT for that matter? 

I bought and wrapped this gift for myself as a congratulations for the creation of Artifcts. I waited to buy until I hit that moment when I knew we were on the doorstep. The moment arrived... a corona for a crowning moment. 

Now I can enjoy two clicks I love: that sound of clipping into my peddles on a road bike and the tapping of the corona’s keys.

What antiques take up positions of pride in your home? Artifct and share today, National Cherish an Antique Day.

Happy Artifcting! 

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BONUS! For all of you typewriter enthusiasts 

I know you covet the details about the typewriters, like the machine’s serial codes. I can confirm my serial number and carriage number do not match.

I purchased my typewriter from the most amazing, knowledgeable, and gracious shop on Etsy @Findstein who even pointed me to print and online resources so that I could learn about and maintain my Corona, including purchasing a new 1/2˝ universal ink ribbon 300 hundred pages or so from now, which has to be re-spun by hand. Here are the references, if you’re in the market: 

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Using ChatGPT for Stories and Memories

We want to acknowledge the elephant in the room: ChatGPT. Created by a company called OpenAI, it’s only been publicly available for a few months and is an unavoidable topic. You might think it’s not for you, you’ll ignore the bold headlines, go on with life. Or you might have this nagging feeling that you’re missing out on something. 

Here at Artifcts, we’re excited about the promise the constant evolution of Artificial Intelligence, this time in the form of ChatGPT, holds for us all. SPOILER ALERT: We won’t be introducing it, even in a playful experimental version, at Artifcts yet for you to capture your stories and memories. Here’s why. 

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Let’s imagine your grandfather was, gasp, imperfectly perfect. He served his country during WWII, was a dedicated civil service employee after the war, and fiercely protective of his family of four. And yet … he told rude jokes, harbored controversial views, and was blustery in his judgements he shared with no filter. 

Now imagine you have a piece of his military uniform you want to Artifct. You tell ChatGPT that you were at your grandfather’s house, cleaning it out as he downsized, and he gave you the hat. 

ChatGPT nearly instantly can give you a story, “With tears in his eyes, my grandpa placed the hat in my hands…” Hold on! TEARS in his eyes? Um, nope, not my grandpa. With a whole story written like this, I know I’m better off starting over. No machine knows his personality. No machine knows the words he said to me. No machine knows how I feel when I’m with him, the smells that remind me of him, the events of that day together that precipitated him giving me the hat. 

This sort of output from ChatGPT is what one person interviewed by 60 Minutes in a segment, “Who is minding the chatbots?” called authoritative bull****: “[ChatGPT] blends the truth and falsities so finely together that unless you are a real expert, you do not know.” It’s a pathway to your own personal alternative histories. Much like reading historical fiction, it takes a cautious reader to parse out the fact and the fiction. Watch the interview on 60 Minutes

We need to take ChatGPT’s stated limitations seriously and play with it to experience those limitations for ourselves. 

List of limitations from ChatGPT Open AI website

Source: https://chat.openai.com

ChatGPT could also respond to this same scenario with a more straightforward, leaning toward prescriptive output. Here’s an example based on this scenario: 

Description automatically generated by ChatGPT about Grandpa

 
 
Source: https://chat.openai.com/chat  

That’s better in some ways. Still might be offbeat for how I view ‘stuff,’ but at least we’ve ditched the tears. The bottom line is that you simply can't outsource your memories and stories in general, nevermind, to AI.

Where to for ChatGPT and Artifcts? 

One area where ChatGPT could, as is, apply to the Artifcts our Arti Community Members are creating is in the factual elements some people include in their Artifcts. The history of an artist, a designer, a manufacturer. The history of a world or community event. If you want to share who H. Stern was in life within your Artifct, ChatGPT can help.  

Of course, since ChatGPT requires a personal login, and will remember and learn from what you type into it, you can also easily build its knowledge of your life to the point where it will remember where you were on the date you received that present from your mom. Items you own and should probably Artifct. It could remember stories you shared about people in your life. Emails you exchanged, videos you posted, searches you made; so much data for a tool like ChatGPT. So, yes, it might someday know that Grandpa was a grumpy old man late in life and recast stories for you in that light to rapidly create Artifcts with fairly accurate descriptive details, but at what cost? 

The privacy risks are not yet fully understood. And that’s a difficult compromise to make when in an Artifct, you need only add a few words to capture the essence of why you have or keep an object in your life. 

For now, because we value and place great importance on your story, one that often is deeply personal, we cannot rely on a technology that has proven to have its challenges to be your source of truth. We’ll be watching and waiting, maybe even playing still behind the scenes, to understand ChatGPT’s potential for Artifcts along with its potential risks. 

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What's your experience with ChatGPT? What are you hopes for what it will offer the world? We'd love to hear from you at Editor@Artifcts.com.

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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The Artifcts Bookshelf: Books About or Related to 'Stuff'

Here you'll find a simple listing of a wide-ranging and growing collection of books, with 'stuff' as the unify theme. They were recommendations from others, background research, continuing education, and sometimes just straight up fun. Now and then we may post a link to an online article, podcast, or similar, but given how impermanent those links can be and the frustration paywalls can present, we'll mostly stick to books.

We use tags to organize them for your quick scanning. Click any image below to review the book over on the author’s site, Amazon, or elsewhere. 

What are you reading? Share with Editor@Artifcts.com and we'll check it out.

(Please note: These books are literally on our nightstands, coffee tables, e-readers, and bookshelves. We are not paid to list publications here.)

THE ARTIFCTS BOOKSHELF

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

By Edmund de Waal, Jan. 2010

FICTION, COLLECTIBLES

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

By V. E. Schwab, Oct. 2021

FICTION, ARTS

Uncommon Type

By Tom Hanks, Sep. 2018

FICTION, COLLECTIONS

What to Do with Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want

By Marni Jameson, Jun. 2021

NONFICTION, INSTRUCTIONAL

108 Beloved Objects: Letting Go of Stuff, Keeping Our Stories

By Jeff Greenwald, Aug. 2021

NONFICTION, THE EVERYDAY

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

By Margareta Magnusson, Jan. 2018

NONFICTION, INSTRUCTIONAL, THE EVERYDAY

The Dig

By John Preston, Apr. 2016

FICTION, HISTORY

goodbye, things: The New Japanese Minimalism

By Fumio Sasaki, Apr. 2017

NONFICTION, THE EVERYDAY

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

By Ingrid Fetell Lee, Sep. 2018

NONFICTION, THE EVERYDAY, INSTRUCTIONAL

Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff: Declutter, Downsize, and Move Forward with Your Life

By Matt Paxton, Feb. 2022

NONFICTION, INSTRUCTIONAL

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

By Gail Steketee, Jan. 2011

NONFICTION

Book Cover of The Book of Form and Emptiness

The Book of Form and Emptiness

By Ruth Ozeki, Jun. 2022

FICTION, MENTAL HEALTH

Book Cover of What We Keep

What We Keep: 150 People Share the One Object that Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning

By Bill Shapiro & Naomi Wax, Sept. 2018

NONFICTION, COLLECTIBLES, TRAVEL

Book Cover of Taste

Taste: My Life Through Food

By Stanley Tucci, Oct. 2021

NONFICTION, RECIPES, TRAVEL

Book Cover of Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel

By Amor Towles, Mar. 2019

FICTION, HISTORY

Book Cover of Minimalism for Families

Minimalism for Families: Practical Minimalism Strategies to Simplify Your Home and Life

By Zoë Kim, Oct. 2017

NONFICTION, INSTRUCTIONAL

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The Making of Lantern in Just 5 Artifcts

Artifcts contextualize our lives. The most random of objects can pack in a story to challenge Tolstoy. Normally you probably create and receive, or even view in our public collection, Artifcts from people’s everyday lives – mementos, furnishings, jewelry, collections, letters and photos, and more. Today, we have a special treat – the Artifcts that provide the color to the making not of a single life but of a company: Lantern. 

This female founded, venture capital-backed platform exists for these simple truths: death is hard on the living who are left behind, it inspires anxiety and confusion for all, and it leaves so many to wonder how to afford it and whether they’ve done justice to their loved one’s wishes in the end.

It just should not be that hard. 

That is why Liz Eddy and Alyssa Ruderman decided back in 2018 to take on the problem through the creation of Lantern, a public benefit corporation that can assist you at any stage of life to pre-plan for the inevitable as well as walk you through the steps of the after-loss process. 

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THE MAKING OF LANTERN IN JUST 5 ARTIFCTS

Before diving into the five Artifcts that Liz chose to share about the life of Lantern, it’s worth pointing out that this was not her first foray into entrepreneurship or the fields of grief and trauma. 

At the age of 15, young Liz, along with two friends with whom she’s still close today, started her first company: Sisters on the Runway. With a curriculum, fundraising toolkit, and other resources behind it, the company provides high school and university students nationwide with the foundation for addressing domestic abuse in their communities. Just think: This company student-led organization has now been running for more than half of Liz’s lifetime!


Artifct #1: The Inception of Lantern

A Photo of My Grandmother

It was the passing of Liz’s grandmother, and the glaring holes she experienced in the post loss process, particularly the legal and financial logistics, that inspired Lantern. If that were not enough, Liz’s grandmother was an entrepreneur herself, dropping out of high school to become a fashion designer and build her company from the ground up, keeping at it until she was in her 90s! “She was powerful,” said Liz. “She didn’t believe in retirement, saying you could slow down but not stop. And never being afraid of starting something new!” 

Photo of Liz Eddy's grandmother
 
 
 
Photo of Liz's grandparents on their wedding day. 

Artifct #2: Securing Financial Support 

Kite + String Tattoo

Liz and Alyssa each got a tattoo of a kite because they call each other "Kite + String." If Liz is the "big picture, head in the clouds, headfirst into business" kind of partner, it’s Alyssa who is the "thoughtful, stable, grounded" partner. One cannot exist without the other. The co-founders got these small, meaningful tattoos after officially getting Lantern off the ground and with venture capital financial backing. It is a forever reminder to them of how far they've come, how much they can still do, and the unbreakable bond they share. 

 
 
Kite + String tattoos

Artifct #3: The Building of the Brand

Lantern Illustration by Liza Rusalskaya

A brand can use many means to convey its ethos and mission. All of the site illustrations sprinkled throughout Lantern.co are done by illustrators from around the work in memory of those who they have lost. This illustration is featured on the welcome page of the site and was among many they received while first developing their site. It depicts a powerful combination of beauty and sadness, so much of what we experience in loss.  Visitors often tell the founders that they connect deeply with the illustrations.

 
 
Lantern Illustration by Liza Rusalskaya.

Artifct #4: Tailwinds from the Sunday New York Times

Lantern Takes Front Page of SundayBusiness

Not all surprises in business are great. And despite what they say, not all press is good press. But when you stroll out one morning from your uncle’s where you are visiting to grab breakfast and a copy of the Sunday NY Times to search excitedly for the tiniest thumbnail mention of your company and are greeted instead with … the front page of the NY Times SundayBusiness section, you’re in the 7th heaven zone of business. 

Catching sight of the skull and cross bones with flower, Liz thought, “It can’t be!” But it was. It was a MASSIVE life moment for the Lantern team and company. The piece not only put death front and center, but Lantern’s approach to working with other companies in the space to fill all the critical gaps in end of life and loss. Collaboration instead of competition is in part why Lantern is a public benefit corporation after all!

 
 
Sunday New York Times article featuring Lantern. 

Artifct #5: No Company is One Person (or Two Cofounders)

A Note from an Employee

It’s one thing if you happen to bump into a former employee and they greet you warmly or even make a point to bustle across a crowded room to say hello. It’s another thing altogether in the craziness of the holidays to sit down and write out a personal note of appreciation and support. This Artifct is about the importance of a happy, caring, supported team to a thriving company. Without, “You rot from the inside,” said Liz. “You can’t move so fast that you lose sight of that.” 

 
 
Note from one of Lantern's employees. 

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To learn more about Lantern, visit Lantern.co. We also highly recommend viewing the video about the making of Lantern. A favorite quote of ours from the video, because we can directly relate: “You have to be irrationally obsessed with what you’re doing to accomplish something, … to help you ride through the highs, lows, and challenges.”

© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Data Privacy Day 2023: How Are You Doing?

Data Privacy Day is an international event that occurs every year on 28 January (this Saturday). Never heard of it? Chances are that you're not alone. The day was created back in 2007 to bring awareness to the “importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust.” 

As you may or may not know, one of our founding cornerstones here at Artifcts is privacy. We believe your information is yours and yours alone. We will not sell or otherwise transact the personal information you entrust with us. Similarly, we want to ensure you are in control of your information and data, which is why we’ve made it easy for you to upload and download your files (and your Artifcts!). We also make it clear in our Content & Community Policy that you retain not only the right but also the ownership of any information you use in creating your Artifcts. Sadly, not all online platforms share our beliefs.  

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about simple steps you can take to enhance your privacy and safeguard your data wherever you have online accounts and transactions.  

  • PASSWORDS. Have you changed yours lately? We recommend you update your passwords at least once a year. And while you’re at it, ensure that your password is a strong password, that is, it has at least 12 characters, and includes alpha numeric and special characters.  
  • TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION. You may not like it, but you should use it, where available, especially when dealing with financial or personal, sensitive information, like medical records. Two factor authentication simply means that in addition to your login, you will be prompted for a second means of authenticating that it’s really you. This could be a text, a call, or an email. The latest generation even can include voice. Do a quick scrub of all your online banking and medical accounts to double check that two factor authentication is set up, and that your second means of authentication is up to date.  
  • PRIVACY MODES. Don’t want Google to track your every move? Tired of getting Amazon ads every time you click? Consider using the privacy mode setting in your browser (go to File > New Private Window, or similar path) or use a privacy-first browser from the get-go, such as Duck Duck Go or Brave. These browsers do not store your personal information or follow you around the Web with ads.   
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, DON'T CLICK! If you receive an email from an unknown sender with an attachment or link, don’t download, don’t click, and just to be extra safe, delete it from your inbox. What if you receive the link from a trusted contact? If it is out of the ordinary, or something you were not expecting, text, call, or otherwise double check outside of email just to be safe. Cyber criminals are getting smarter and developing new tactics seemingly daily, including spoofing (i.e., impersonating) email addresses. 

Interested in learning more or looking for other resources? The Future of Privacy Forum has helpful infographics and educational materials, especially tips for protecting youth online. The Electronic Privacy Information Center also offers simple guidelines for consumer privacy and a break-down of some of the most common internet scams.  

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Cheers to 2023!

Dear Readers, 

As we approach the New Year, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support, encouragement, and feedback, whether you’ve been with us since the beginning or are just joining.  

Ellen and I created Artifcts to change the conversation around ‘stuff’ and lighten the financial and emotional burden that so often surrounds the stuff we keep and the stuff we let go. Our goal as founders is to enable you to not only to capture, preserve, and share the histories, stories, and memories behind your most cherished objects, but to also discover (or maybe even rediscover) the joy and human connection that go hand in hand with the items that make us, well, us! 

Heart value is just as important as financial value here at Artifcts. We’ve seen from our members over the past year that some of the most “valuable” Artifcts—postcards and letters, glass lamps, even a collection of old cookbooks—may have no financial value whatsoever, but are bursting with the histories, stories, and memories of us and our families. (Still stuck on the financial value piece? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We partnered with Heritage Auctions this past year to ensure our members can request and receive a free valuation for those Artifcts suspected to have financial AND heart value.) 

Speaking of partnerships, we’ve traveled the country during the past year on our quest to understand and transform the world of ‘stuff.’ We’ve partnered with positive aging and memory care organizations such as AgeWise Colorado and Insight Memory Care to give families a new way to spend quality time together, connecting and engaging around the objects of their lives. We’ve spoken with experts at Leading Age; presented at genealogy, AgeTech, and downsizing conferences; and learned from and shared with experts in the estate planning and insurance space who are eager to harness the power of Artifcts.  

As founders, we like to think big thoughts and dream of new and imaginative ways to build community and connection. Imagine one day being able to put on a pair of virtual reality goggles and “seeing” your childhood home and all your favorite Artifcts from years gone by. Or being able to say, “Siri, read me my Artifcts,” and have Siri take you on a trip down memory lane. These are all things we’re thinking about daily as we continue to design, build, and deploy Artifcts.  

As for the here and now, the Artifcts team is hard at work ensuring Artifcts is where you need it, when you need it. Stay tuned for a slew of new product features, publication of our spring webinar series schedule, and announcements of new partnerships spanning positive aging, end of life, moving and decluttering and beyond as we transform our relationships with ‘stuff’ together. 

With that, Ellen and I invite you to join us in a virtual toast as we say, “Cheers to 2023!” May it delight and surprise us in all that we do.  

Happy Artifcting,

Heather 

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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