The Weight of Old Baggage

by Krishna on March 30, 2007

Today, I was re-organizing my web bookmarks – the ones I have been collecting over the years. Although it was to be expected, I was surprised to see how many bookmarks were totally outdated – mostly relating to technologies that have bit the dust or been replaced by newer ones. There were many websites that have gone out of business or re-located – so those URLs are no longer valid.

The same situation happens in other cases too – like when I am organizing my computer files or my personal papers at home. Always, I find a lot of stuff that has totally outlived its utility, but I have been holding onto them for too long. And this when I think of myself as being too organized.

There are many problems with keeping old stuff around: too much clutter, too much time, energy, space and money to maintain them and the difficulty in recognizing what is truly needed and perhaps accidentally destroying them.

In some instances, I like keeping things around for nostalgic reasons. For example, when I was a young teenager, I used to write down trivia facts from various sources in my school library. But I realize today that apart from the memories, that information is useless, because today anyone can find those facts on the Internet in a few seconds through Google or Wikipedia.

This also applies to bookmarks and other sites that allow one to capture content. So here is a shift in my thinking.

  1. I see no point in collecting links that have good content unless I don’t have time to read them now and want to save them for later reading.
  2. Once I read the content, I should use the information in some way:
    1. Create action items to follow up on, such as reading some article on healthy food and making a note to eat that.
    2. Share the link with others using a service like del.icio.us.
    3. Email the link to people or blog about it – the latter is much better as it can be searched upon later.
  3. Delete the link. The chances that I will look at that content again is very low. Why keep it around?

The only links worth keeping around are services that I use so that I can quickly launch them – for example, Yahoo!, MSDN, New York Times, etc.

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