Friday, December 19, 2008

Keeping Stuff

I have a lot of books. I mean a lot of books. Thousands. I think if I got rid of them all, the house would rise several inches from the ground. I've always been a book hoarder. I somehow delude myself that merely possessing them somehow gives me more immediate access to their contents, whether I've read them or not. I have the further delusion that there's some permanence to this ... that I'll always be able to enjoy these books.

But even for the ones I have read, it's often difficult to go back and find specific information ... favorite passages, obscure facts, etc. This is supposed to be one of the great benefits of electronically stored information. But electronic information fails on the permanence quality. Information gets lost or corrupted, or simply becomes unreadable through hardware and software obsolescence. It may even become unavailable through business failures.

Electronic information even comes up short on the accessibility criterion. Sure, I can search my email with GMail, and I can search my PDFs with Acrobat. I can search my archived Web sites with ... well, nothing that I know of, as Web sites are notoriously ephemeral. As the sources of information ... email, blogs, on-line articles, etc. ... grows, the possibilities for saving and retrieving all that juicy info become more and more feeble in comparison.

I'm going to experiment with Evernote, which claims to be the answer to all these concerns. I'll report here on what I find. Meanwhile, I welcome any comments or recommendations for storing everything I ever knew or wished I knew.

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