Too much data

Note: This is an old post in a blog with a lot of posts. The world has changed, technologies have changed, and I've changed. It's likely this is out of date and not representative. Let me know if you think this is something that needs updating.

I have data issues. I have email going back to 1996 and I have documents and other data formats for which I don't have the original program anymore.

In regards to email, every now and then I get up enough energy to start going through it and deleting email that's clearly not interesting. The problem here is that I accumulate more email than I delete and I feel like I spend a lot of energy and time organizing it.

In regards to the other data, I could keep moving it from format to format but that also takes a lot of energy and time.

I don't keep a journal or a diary, so this data is really the only records I have of past years. It's the only way I can get a glimpse of how I've grown over time.

The question is how important is this data? Is it important to keep it all, or is it good enough to just keep a few things that capture enough of the essence of that period of time? Is it better to go through things and create an "editorial" of that period of time with citations from the original pieces and then destroy all the original data?

What uses does the data have? Maybe it's better to just jettison it all and start afresh?

Want to comment? Send an email to willkg at bluesock dot org. Include the url for the blog entry in your comment so I have some context as to what you're talking about.