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Digital Packrats

By Writer


Packrats have been around since the beginning of time. My mother still holds on to almost every memory from my childhood. The reason for this is beyond me. I honestly see no need to hold on to every McDonald Happy Meal toy or pair of shoes I ever came in contact with as a child. It seems ridiculous.


But now I ask myself, “Am I any different?” I do not have hundreds of Xerox boxes lining the walls of my basement, but I sure do have a lot of clutter. Not physical clutter—digital clutter.


I am inclined to believe most technological people have this same problem. A desktop full of documents, an excessive amount of media, and four or more hard drives plugged in at once. I am guilty of all of these.


I fully began to realize this when consolidating my iTunes library. I hooked another hard drive up to my computer, because the 250GB external hard drive started to get full. I decided it would be a good idea to move all of my iTunes media to a single, exclusive hard drive. The transfer was anything but quick and easy. First I changed the iTunes library location to the new hard drive and iTunes began to update data, searching for new files. There was nothing in the new hard drive to find or update; yet that process took nearly an hour.


Next was the fun part: moving all of my data. Seven hours was all it took for my 2GB of RAM to process the transfer. Only seven hours—note the hint of sarcasm there. The wait was almost painful. What took so long? My media contains 40GB of music, 6GB of movies, 60GB of television shows, and 50GB of podcasts. The sad thing, I have not watched or listened to half of what is in my library.


There are millions of people with this same problem. Digital clutter has become an increasing problem as digital downloads take over the media industry.


Here is a list of questions from Zenhabits.com that will help you decide if you are, like me, a digital packrat:


Do you have 20 or more folders and sub-folders in your documents folder on your hard drive?


Is your list of Internet bookmarks long and overwhelming?


Is your email program nearly full, or do you use more than one email account because of all the storage you need?


Do you have multiple duplicates of photos, and is it hard to find a photo you need?


Is your hard drive 75% full or more?


Do you have multiple accounts for similar things, making it hard to find stuff?


Are any of your digital file systems overwhelming?


Do you have email from 5 years ago?


Do you have project files from 2 years ago?


Do you have folders of stuff to read that would take a year to actually read?


They claim if you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions then you are a digital packrat, but I did not need a quiz to confirm that.