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I came across the paragraph below on digital hoarding within the general Wikipedia article on hoarding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoarding) and found it quite interesting. 

With the advent of personal computers people started hoarding digital data. In 1980s they started storing megabytes of interesting texts, images and software on floppy disks. Two decades later, computer users hoard on their hard disks gigabytes of songs, movies, and software. Even though most of the content is not unique and can be easily downloaded from the Internet, many people enjoy creating large personal collections.

I'll admit that I'm a bit of a digital hoarder, but I don't store content that can be easily be reacquired as and when needed.  In fact, the whole notion of Media 3.0 runs contrary to this.

However, as I've switched from computer to computer over the last 20+ years I have moved a lot of data with me each time.  It's mostly documents and old work products.  A quick look shows that I've got personal "stuff" dating back to 1989 and work "stuff" that goes back as far as 1986.

Most of this, of course, has no value whatsoever.  But at the same time, it really has no cost, either, because digital storage is so cheap.  In fact, the effort to sort through this digital morass to find what has value and discard what doesn't would introduce a cost -- my time.

Interestingly, too, is the fact that the information contained in my "digital attic" is much more easily accessible (and therefore, arguably, more useful) than it was 20 years ago.  Thanks to products like Google Desktop, I can find much of this content with only a few keystrokes (although some of the file formats are so arcane that they're not understood by modern technology).

I'll go on keeping all this stuff -- it's just not worth the time to sort through it.  Just do me a favour -- when I go, bury my hard drive with me in case I ever need that old phone list from 1992.  Hey, ya never know.

[Update:  I just noticed that I've been using various editions of Quicken to keep track of things since at least January 1, 1990... wow!]

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This page contains a single entry by Alan Sawyer published on September 23, 2008 12:48 PM.

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