Saturday, February 16, 2013

Digital Hoarding

I'm not afraid to get rid of stuff. I watch Hoarders and can't even begin to understand why they do what they do. (Yes, I realize that in most cases it's a mental illness.) I'm happy to throw things away, send stuff to Goodwill, whatever. In general, I honestly do not develop emotional attachments to Stuff. Do I have my hangups? Sure. I like yarn. I like having a lot of yarn. But, it's organized, inventoried, and frequently used. It isn't taking over the house or preventing me from living a good life.

Another, maybe more serious, hangup for me is information. I love information. When I was a teenager, I had a few magazine subscriptions (anyone remember YM?), and I would tear out the articles and keep them in file folders by subject, in case I ever needed to reference them again (I never needed to reference them again.). As I grew up, I did the same with other magazines. I even created an accordion file of home decor and craft ideas. Needless to say, I no longer have the articles I painstakingly curated when I was a teenager. However, I do still have a milk crate full of hanging files with those home decor and craft ideas. I think I'm about ready to let most of those go and just need to make the time to sort through them.

Then I learned how to knit and discovered knitting magazines. At one point, I had literally hundreds of knitting magazines on my bookshelf. I also had hundreds of knitting patterns in binders--some printed from online sources, and other purchased at yarn shops. A couple of years ago, the idea hit me to "destructively digitize" my knitting magazines. At work, I have access to a top-feed scanner that will automatically scan both sides at a fairly high resolution. I used a paper cutter to remove the bindings and used personal time (not work time) to scan in all of my magazines. I have a redundant storage system in place--all digital copies are on, on my hard drive at home, and on discs (though I will admit that the discs haven't been updated in some time). I keep all current issues in paper, and when a new issue comes out, the old one gets scanned and recycled. It's a beautiful system that allows me to keep all my "information" without taking up physical space in my environment. I've filled nearly 22GB of virtual space on with knitting magazines and patterns.

There are two more sources of information that I can't resist. Ravelry and Pinterest. Let's talk about Ravelry first. It allows me to keep track of all of my projects, inventory my yarn, enter my magazines, books and patterns in the library, AND purchase additional patterns and ebooks to add to my library. It is a knitting information-lover's paradise! I can see what patterns have been knit with particular yarns. I can see what yarns were used in a particular pattern. I can read about another knitter's experience with both yarns and patterns. Everything is cross-referenced and beautifully organized. If you are a knitter (or crocheter!) and you aren't on Ravelry, go now. Join. Seriously. Now. Do it. (My username is gaeacreations, if you want to check out what I've been up to on Ravelry.) Where I get in trouble is with the ability to Queue and Favorite various things. I currently have a very reasonable 41 projects in my Queue. That means I want to knit them soon-ish. I say this is reasonable because at one point, I had nearly 200 things in my Queue. That was just crazy. That's when I decided that anything I liked but wasn't sure I'd ever actually knit would go in my Favorites. There are 840 things in my favorites, all tagged, so I can sort by yarn weight, type of project, etc. 

Now let's talk about Pinterest. When I joined Pinterest, I knew no one else who was on it. There were a few people I followed, but for the most part, I used it to Pin things I found on other websites. Then Pinterest exploded in popularity, and a whole world of Information became available--mostly because it was stuff I wouldn't have thought to search for on the internet. When I look at my boards on Pinterest, I start to wonder if maybe I have a little problem with Digital Hoarding. I have 58 boards and more than 3,600 pins. Pinterest has totally taken the place of my files of magazine articles and pictures. Do I ever go back and look at those Pins? Actually, yes. I have them sorted in a way that makes lots of sense to me, and when I need a piece of information or inspiration, I know right where to look.

I don't feel bad or guilty about my hoarding. All of the information I hoard is well-organized and referenced fairly frequently. But I have to admit that sometimes I wonder if it's psychologically related in any way to the hoarding of physical stuff, and it's just more acceptable because no one can see it. What are your thoughts?

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