Remember Everything. Really?

Data management is a complex thing that we are not good at considering the volume of information that we can easily generate and store. Maybe Google is good at it but I don’t think I’m.

We can keep pretty much unlimited information: notes, pdf, photos, music, web clips etc.

But the question is do we need to keep it? How we will benefit from this? When was the last time you looked at the note from 2007 or that restaurant receipt scanned 12 months ago?

We are saving information simply because we can and don’t know what to do with it. Previously we were limited by the physical space we had to store our notebooks, journals and our ability to preserve them. Nowadays these limitations are largely gone and if you’re good with backups you can keep everything for years and years.

Most of the information has only temporary value. Perhaps a year or five but not more really (there are maybe one or two exceptions). Honestly I can’t imagine that a scanned receipt will have any value 100 years from now. Perhaps an original paper print-out might be a curious artifact but a photo of it, unlikely. 

Saving everything is paradoxically also a waste, a waste of space, resources, energy to power the servers and routers that handle the information.  

It’s for the grandchildren. I’ve seen this argument a lot but I think it’s very self indulgent. To think that I’m saving for other people is bit vain. As cool as it sounds to gather the stories, look at old pictures, leaf through pages of paper journals that shouldn’t be the primary reason for keeping the information. 

If you are really saving for your grandchildren here is the test for you. Have you asked your grandparents about their stories, pictures, thoughts etc? If the answer is yes that’s great but otherwise consider the real reasons for saving everything.

Keeping something should be for our own benefit and if you can’t see one why bother, why clutter the space at all.