If there were a reality show called “Digital Hoarders,” I would be the haggard face under the titles of every episode because I am destined to be their poster child. Except I totally wouldn’t because a TV crew in my home? I’ve been in houses where TV crews have taken over, and I’ll pass, thanks. Unless there’s a LOT of money or at least a free new whirlpool/LCD swimming pool of a bathtub involved, in which case, bring on the crew! I’ll even provide craft services!
The past few weeks, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that a lot of the hard drives on which I have relied for years – drives that have my entire digital history on them – are, in some instances, beyond their life expectancy, so I’ve been going through and consolidating and moving and culling.
There’s one big danger (or bonus, depending on how you look at it) to being a digital hoarder: You love, nay ADORE, redundancies. I took 12,000 pictures of my child in the first year of her life. Not only are those pictures still in their own iPhoto library on a main computer, plus on a hard drive currently sitting at my feet, PLUS on another hard drive in a closet upstairs, PLUS on a hard drive in the safety deposit box at the bank, there’s yet ANOTHER backup on CD in the safety deposit box. Add all of those together, consider the fact that I wasn’t always careful and sometimes photos were imported or stored twice somehow, and you’re talking about SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND digital files. And that is just the first year! Of photos!
Fortunately (or un), I’m not quite as obsessive about photographing now as I was then, but I still take a good deal of pictures, either with my iPhone or one of my little Leicas or the big daddy Nikon or my indestructible little Pentax. But it’s not just pictures, either. The other day I brought all of my music into a fresh new copy of iTunes to go through and cull out duplicates and organize. I have nearly 40,000 songs in there – every CD I ever owned, probably half of my cassettes, stuff I’ve bought in digital format! Plus TV shows. Plus movies!
Oh, I have gone way beyond gigs and gigs of data. I’m at TBs and TBs of data. I’m at, “Hey, TechPapa, can you point me to a reliable little 6-10TB RAID stack?” and “Will someone please buy my awesome elliptical off of the neighborhood marketplace so I can afford a 6-10TB RAID stack?”
All of the media aside, is it even necessary to mention all of the documents I have? I have papers I wrote in high school on my old Mac Classic that I’ve salvaged from 3.5″ floppies. Remember the other day when I posted about my creative juices once flowed in the past? I have the novel I wrote way back then. Two full-length scripts for Murphy Brown I wrote (one went to a contest, the other I just wrote because that was what I did before I discovered fanfic). I have all of my fanfic. I have several high school projects and writings, most of my college papers, my complete (required) musings from a Leadership class I once did, and monologues I wrote for acting classes. There are essays and stories and poems and letters and…just…everything. People, I even have every blog post I have ever written.
Now, I know, looking at the scant archives here, on this blog on this domain (are the archives even accessible on this one? I have no clue – I’ve been blogging long enough I don’t even care, really), you wouldn’t think there would be much. But since I started blogging, I’ve been at Blogger and TypePad (back in the BETA days!), used Graymatter, Movable Type, WordPress, and ExpressionEngine on at least [counts on fingers] 9 different domains. I’ve gone through ye olde blogger identity crisis more than you could possibly imagine (which I’m sure is why I’ve never had more than 300 readers – today I’m happy with, I dunno, maybe a dozen on a good day. But I’m good with that.). And I still have every. single. post.
DATE: 2/7/2001 01:29:05 AM —– BODY: Oh, the things you can think…and post on the Internet! Welcome to my blog, where I can entertain myself whilst hopefully entertaining you in the process. Words of wisdom at the dawning of this newfound technology? May the truth be with you. Now, it’s bedtime. ——–
Nice little Star Wars/X-Files hat tip there, no? Once a geek, always a…
But did you notice that date? February of 2001. 1:30 in the morning (insanely fitting). That was the year I took a huge risk (so worth it) and was in The Vagina Monologues at UTK, the year I finally got a degree (even if they had to waive a P.E. class because a P.E. would have put me over 200 credit hours which is, apparently, A Bad Thing), and, of course, just 7 months later…. Those archives give me just the tiniest glimpse of how we all were, or how things were through my eyes, before 9/11. I have all of that. I can go back and see that change happen. It’s funny and amazing and sad and wonderful to be able to go back and look at where I was, where I went, what I became, where I am now.
Which is really why I’m such a digital hoarder. It’s not about amassing “the most” or having the biggest collection. It’s because it’s the History of ME. It’s all there, splayed out among my writings, my journals, my blogs. I’m trying to cull and consolidate. Consolidating is easy. That’s just killing the dupes, essentially. But culling? Man, that’s a tough one. How do I let go of a memory I had completely forgotten until I came across that file or that photo or that song? How do you get rid of the awesomeness that is my college poli-sci paper “Linguistic Lambada and the Freedom of Speech.”
Ideally, I’ll get down to one workable copy and two redundancies on two separate, different aged drives. But I still have a LONG way to go. 20 years of digital history is a lot to go through. And as a digital hoarder, that’s one helluva jampacked 20 years.