Pointed Development

I Can’t Take It With Me

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Should I even bother?

I have a ton of data and much of it goes back decades.

That’s the fundamental problem with being a lifelong technologist and data pack rat: I never got rid of anything and now I’m knee deep in data that’s simply not important. I recently put together a nice backup strategy to keep all of my bits safe, with my highest priority being code, family photos and videos, important scanned documents, and various email archives.

But I still have a metric ton of crap sitting on my drives.

I can’t take it with me when I’m gone. What the hell do I do with it? Most people would trash it. However a large portion of my existence has been plugged in and connected: I’ve been shaped by technology.

Now that I’m a father, I’d like to keep the bits that helped mature and define me, like some sort of primitive digital biography. The data paints a very surreal, very personal, very deep picture of who I was and who I became, and for my children and grandchildren to follow, that somehow seems important.

Maybe that’s too naive, but like an old diary or receipt or letter, it’s a little bit of personal history.

It’s all very ethereal.

I’ve begun the painfully slow process of going through each and every archive file, folder, picture and video, mentally asking myself if a specific file is needed, important or somehow personally defining. I have code dating back to the early 90′s and let’s be honest, it’s complete garbage… But I suspect my son may want to read it, to see how his dad grew up and learned and matured. Likewise with email: Early exchanges during the web’s early supernova are both interesting and idiotic, adolescent musings of a less cultured and more wild internet.

He may never care, and that’s fine. I should do what I can, however, to preserve the digital fingerprint I’ve spent a lifetime creating.

I believe we all should.