Electronic Hoarding

We used Google’s GMail service here at coldieDOTnet to look after la famiglia. All the family (well, all except one) has an account on coldieDOTnet and as such we have lots of space – so much space that I gave up deleting message from my email account several years ago. I just store them all and use Google’s quite efficient search engine to find the conversation I am looking for.

My coldieDOTnet account looks something like:

image This tells me that I almost have 7.5GB of storage for old emails and that I am keeping way too many of them anyway. Still, there have been a couple of times this year when I have gone back to reference emails sent two or three years ago.

I also have a second email account at Google. This is a standard GMail account and is the one I use for most of my wargaming based activities. In the newsgroups and discussion groups I belong to I use this gmail.com address to receive mail and to continue discussions and mostly this is all hobby related stuff. I was pleased therefore to see that Google has given me a full 7.5GB of storage on that email account. The downside – well, look at the image below:

image Yep – more mail stored here – much more mail.

It is indicative of today though – there is no need currently to cleanup old emails to reduce space. The storage out there in the cloud is large, cheap (in GMail’s case free) and the tools are available to search back through old messages to find what you are looking for. Why delete old messages therefore.

It’s the same in our social networks. Our tweets back to year dot are still out there in the Twitterverse. Our Facebook status updates over the last years are there for all to see if they can be bothered to keep clicking the “older” link. Our failed Social experiments at Live Journal, MySpace, Orkut and such are still there – usually because inertia keeps us too lazy to be bothered going out to kill off the accounts.

Before electrons moved in the mysterious ways of PC’s, iPhones and iPads we would periodically do housekeeping. Maybe it was springtime and we would go through the house from one end to the other, cleaning up, taking out old things we didn’t need or want anymore, selling them off through garage sales or taking old copies of pulp fiction to the second-hand bookstore – returning with another collection of second hand books that we just must read.

Nowadays there is no compulsion to do this. An external SD card in our eBook reader and we never need delete a book ever again – heck, the basic Kindle can store 3,500 books so who even needs that sort of expansion.

An external 320 GB hard drive and we can store more music than we can listen to in a year.

We’ve lost the need to tidy up. When we let newspapers build up in the kitchen, or old clothes in the wardrobe or boxes of old books and magazines in the garage we are accused of being hoarders.

When we do it electronically,  when we become electronic hoarders, all that happens is that someone makes some space available for us out there in the cloud somewhere … and we are then able to hoard some more.

Perhaps the time has come for us to actually start some meaningful electronic tidying up of our electronic hoards. Let’s clear our memory cards and hard disks, tidy up the electronic hoard and enjoy the clear crisp mornings of Spring. Now … where do I start with this Google Mail.

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