Archivists

A few years ago I wrote a blog mentioning my archiving tendencies: how I was constantly being torn between the desire to “to have every single minute (even every passing thought) of my life archived somehow so I could look it up in future” and the opposite desire “to live to the full, not wasting a single minute of my time by recording life rather than living it”. This applies to emails, blogs, photographs, …

In Cothrom 72, Alison Lang struck a similar chord, writing about keeping, just in case, hundreds of emails on her computer “none of which I was ever going to read again”, e-books she would never read (or never read again) and so on. She wrote how she forced herself to delete a lot of those no longer useful emails, arguing that nobody would keep so many printed letters, that the ease of storing digital media made us “hoard” what had actually turned into “junk”, overlooking the danger that “we will go under, drowned in this stuff”.

Deleting old emails and suchlike is something I’m doing a lot of as well. Still, the article made me pause and ponder. Yes, I wouldn’t keep a thousand printed letters for possible but improbable future reference. But perhaps I wouldn’t do it precisely because I’d know that among too many letters I wouldn’t find the information anyway. With emails it’s different: there’s software to help one search. As long as we have enough space on our discs and accounts, isn’t going through and deleting this “junk” just a waste of time to conform to our (Alison’s and mine) yearning to have everything neat and tidy?

I’ve lost plenty of time by transferring my posts from one blogsite to another, “pruning” my mailboxes every now and then and so forth. I’m trying to deal with the matter in a smarter way now: not creating all that junk in the first place. Deleting unimportant emails while they are still only a few days old. Writing only those blogs I can’t help thinking about writing. Trying hard to “see” rather than “take pics” when travelling somewhere.

Nevertheless, I can still finish this post with the same sentence as that old one: “It’s certainly not easy to put this theory into practice but.”

 

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