Friday, March 11, 2005

Getting It Together

With eighteen weeks or so to go until ‘Day Zero’, Val and I are undoubtedly progressing with the nesting phase — clearing out and sorting out a lot of the extraneous material from our house prior to the arrival of The Tribble. The mood is obviously becoming infectious as I find myself executing a similar process with all of my own flotsam and miscellanies in the digital realm.

(Attention Conservation Notice: the following is pretty much some nerd-orientated thinking-out loud type of material, so if you have anything better to do, etc.)

Inspired by the Digital Aggregation article (linked to on 7 February 2005) I have been conducting a slash and burn operation on my own ‘data silos’. Not surprisingly, email has turned out to be the biggest headache. One of the downsides of our having three computers at home is that you end up with emails stashed away on three separate hard disks. So finding any one email whenever you need to is more complicated than it ought to be. There is more joy when you factor in all of the personal emails sent to my work address and stored on my hard disk there. A further complication there is that, as work only switched to Entourage last year, the majority of that archive of emails is buried in a Quickmail client that is not even online anymore. Whatever is a boy to do?

A Gmail account with 1000MB of online storage seemed a good place to start (thanks Benny!) That is now making a good repository for all of the old content I might conceivably want to look at again. It also gives me some more useful tools than Outlook. Each email can be tagged with as many classes as I like, so I can sort and review along multiple axis. My whole archive is Google-searchable, so finding that really obscure web link from Daragh should now be a doddle. Ultimately the clincher is that, because it is an offsite cache, I will now have access to this material wherever I go online.

However, now there is the not-inconsiderable matter of incrementally going through my old emails and ruthlessly applying the 80:20 rule to find those pearls of wisdom worth retaining. Which task is going to eat up quite a few of my foreseeable lunch breaks...