Personal Serial Numbers

Personal Serial Numbers

I was listening to Van Neistat yesterday and he mentioned a habit of adding serial numbers to pieces he builds. I like that - a fun little stamp on an item that gives it a name all its own. As a complement to version numbers (which should follow semantic versioning format) which identify the model used for a build, a serial number to identify that specific instance of a build is useful.

I like the format that Tom Sachs (and some other) artists take of incorporating the year into a format of YYYY.### which results in something like 2024.023 for the twenty-third item made in twenty-twenty-four.

But I’d want a serial number to also identify the model in addition to the year and counter. Something like YYYY.SSS.### where SSS is the model or series identifier. A uniq three-letter code that identifies the series or model being counted. This would result in something like 2024.DSK.003 for the third desk I built in twenty-twenty-four. Really, the “counter” doesn’t have to actually be a counter, it just has to be unique in the year. Counting is just an easy way for humans to generate a unique identifier for a thing.

Where could I start using this to give handles to things I’m making? I guess the serial number is most useful for physical items that must be made and can’t be copied easily. The version number is most useful for digital knowledge (like code) that are replicated and destroyed infinitely.

I guess I’ve been using a serial numbering system (implicitly) for years in my cameras: they each have their own file naming pattern for each photo that tries to mimic a serial numbering scheme. I should lean into that! I should go edit them to conform to a common serial pattern for easier sorting/identification/etc.