Digital dump

20 03 2017

We are in a data explosion era. No surprise there. Unprecedented amount of data is being captured virtually about everything everywhere. Each day we are leaving a detailed digital footprint across the web and through several other applications and connections. Apart from the Internet, myriad gadgets and software applications, each one of us is also accumulating huge amounts of personal data. It’s all over. Filling the hard drives of the multiple computers we work with, storage on smartphones and tablets, and cloud storage services like Google Drive, One Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, Box etc. Not to mention external hard drives and pen drives.

The moment of truth finally struck me as yet another of my cloud storage accounts has reached its limit and refrained me from editing. I could have paid for increasing the storage space, but that’s not the point here. I have several online accounts that I leverage for cloud storage and almost all of them are full – with pictures, videos, documents, and music. Lots of them. And it never seems to end. This hoarding.  I periodically take backups of the contents of my laptop and store them in an external hard drive. I’m not sure how much of it is repeated and how many times. I collect articles, documents, books, my personal projects forever in progress, learning material, notes and many more. And all this outside of what’s in my email inboxes.

Why keep it all in the first place?  Preserving history. You never know what part of your past you might want to look at in future for reminiscing or what part of your past might hold a key to your present or future problems. Or so we rationalize. Storage is cheap. So, we store. Almost everything. Creating a huge digital dump.

Do I always know what all I already have? Not really. Oftentimes I can’t even remember the number of accounts and storage devices I have, let alone the contents of each. Even if I remember that I had something stored safely, often I can’t find or get to it efficiently. This is not just a simple “organization” issue. Though of course, it helps. The sheer scale of the data one gathers makes any attempt of periodically cataloging and maintaining the data dumps appear insurmountable. Even more so because cleaning up and organizing stuff is perhaps one of the least appealing tasks one can do. (Please note that here here I’m speaking more of myself than anyone else 🙂 ) Especially because one has to do it regularly to maintain.

When I started thinking about digital hoarding, I immediately saw that the minimalist approach that we (some of us) try to apply to our physical possessions can be extended to even these virtual possessions.  With physical objects, you can at least get a sense of magnitude by virtue of the physical space they occupy, the amount of money you expend on accumulating them, and the resulting impact on quality of life. But with digital hoarding, it’s difficult to get the head around the extent of your possessions beyond a point. And the fact that the costs are minimum doesn’t help either.

But one may argue that if the costs are minor, why bother. Valid point. But I believe that there are hidden costs. Most of the data just lays there, dormant, waiting, and completely ignored. Passwords forgotten and accounts seldom logged in, DVDs/CDs gathering dust etc. If all that data could think, it might have had some serious existential questions. 😛 . This massive amount of digital data – where does it eventually go? What happens to it? If it’s in the cloud, privacy is definitely a concern. As for the physical storage devices, they create clutter and have some of the downsides of other physical possessions; harder to maintain and difficult to find and retrieve information.

Of course, as with physical possessions, it would be very difficult to let go of your digital history. Especially, pictures. But do you really need all of those tens of thousands of pictures? Anyways, one has to start somewhere while pruning. The easiest task would be to eliminate duplicates. Then tackle obsolete notes and documents. Movies and old music that you seldom peruse can be next. Consolidating, grouping, and labeling help a lot to bring structure to your digital universe.

It’s not about the quantity, but the quality. My guess is that when you tackle the former, the latter will emerge by itself. When you have low inventory, finding stuff and maintenance will be more efficient. There is definitely hope. I hereby avow to embark on the journey to transform my personal digital footprint (at least what’s under my control).

Connecting the dots

29 10 2016

When I first observed a series of seemingly random incidents/occurrences, which happened over a period of time, converging on common threads/trains of thought, I found the phenomenon profound and mildly exciting not unlike childlike wonder. At first glance, those independent events appear very insignificant and totally unrelated to anything else.  But when you are able to connect the dots and derive meaning or make a story out of it, it’s fascinating and open the doors for new trains of thought and/or perspectives.

A few examples:

I’ve been thinking about “judging” a lot for a long time, especially in the context of parenting and how the current societal norms for parenting are so exacting. Recently, I came across a podcast on “Growing up”, which among other things, talked about anxiety of modern parenting.  I find this topic so intriguing and worth of further study much beyond the blog post I produced a couple of months ago.

Years ago I read a random story  about a working couple, who decide not to have children owing to their demanding careers. It was truly shocking for me at that time. Sometime later I had an acquaintance revealing her intention not to ever have kids in her life. Quite recently, I chanced upon a book titled “Selfish, Shallow, and Self-absorbed” book, which is a collection of essays by 16 writers who chose not to have kids. I haven’t really influenced any of these occurrences, but over time they all stitch together to provide me with a whole new perspective.

A colleague casually remarked on  a podcast about personal love stories. With that memory nowhere in my conscious mind, I impulsively pick up an audio book of Story Corps from the local library. A little while later, through a totally unrelated talk on “Art of listening”, came to know about how David Isay’s Story Corps (listening to others’ stories) is a revolutionary idea that’s impacting people’s lives and that this ongoing oral history project has bagged the one million dollar TED prize for the year. These connected dots quite opened up for me a totally new way of thinking about power of stories.According to David Isay, the most powerful words that one can speak to another:

  • Thank you
  • I’m sorry
  • Forgive me
  • I forgive you

Truly powerful. Simple. Aren’t they?

Of course, if we try to rationalize this phenomenon of seemingly “strange coincidences”, I’m sure we can find one or more perfectly reasonable and logical explanations. I don’t want to go into what they might be now. But there is one thing I can definitely say about them: they wouldn’t be as awe-inspiring. 😉


28 08 2012

Introspection is a difficult journey.  It involves observing oneself – every word, action and thought, checking, evaluating and judging them as impartially as possible. Trust me, it’s a lot of hard work. If the intention is to understand oneself and change for better, the essential pre-requisite is to be “open”, both in mind and heart. Also one needs to be perceptive and sensitive enough to receive the feedback from the world, without being defensive. There is a need to stop and think often.

Since introspection is critical by nature ,the inevitable consequence of such an exercise is an encounter with unpleasantness. One may discover or realize unflattering things about oneself along the path. One needs courage to face them and see them for what they are. One also requires to go through intense inner turmoil as one proceeds through the process of shattering  long-held beliefs and convictions. Only then will be one able to see things in a new light, more possibly than not, for brighter prospects.

Nevertheless, this is also an interesting journey with “self-discovery” and ‘being at peace with oneself” as the typical destination. It’s also liberating in one way. It provides freedom from oneself – self-imposed chains, which are the result of ignorance of one’s true self.

Of course, the above is possible only if one treads the path carefully, judiciously and shrewdly with the intention of rising to a new level of enlightenment.

Moments of joy

25 04 2010

What makes your day? It varies for everyone and for different days. It can be your baby’s smile or a compliment from your spouse, job well done at work or pleasant weather or call from a friend etc. You feel happy and elated in those moments and carry that good feeling throughout the day. I call them – “moments of joy”.

The other day, I experienced such moments of joy when I learned a few new things. I was reading a few articles on “Analytics” and “Advanced Analytics”. One thing led to the other and I found myself learning a lot more, thanks to Wikipedia and Google. I learned about the existence of a programming language called “R” and also about a career called “Actuary”. All this in just 10 minutes. For a moment, I felt so grateful to the Internet and especially Google and reflected on how techonology has made the process of acquiring knowledge easier.

Another thing that struck me was that I actually enjoyed learning. Memories came back to me from my childhood when I used to lament in despair that the end of schooling/education seemed too distant. There were always assignments, examinations and progress reports year after year and the inevitability of undergoing all that for another 10-15 years seemed cruel to me. I used to imagine myself sighing in relief at the end of all that ordeal but the reality turned out to be different. I never thought it’s possible that one can choose to study when it’s no longer mandatory and here I’m taking course after course and with great plans to study further to quench my knowledge thirst. Ha!

On relationships

18 09 2009

Never take any relationship for granted. Every action you do counts and affects the relationship. Better make sure it’s in a positive way. Every relationship needs to be nurtured. Sometimes it requires a lot of effort. Right words should be spoken, right things should be done. Everything follows the ‘give and take’ rule. First give to the relationship, what you expect from it – be it respect or love or care or empathy or anything. Well, I guess this is what that binds us to other people. If the nature of relationships is not the way it is now, our lives would have been utter chaos.

It seems to me that you can’t afford to be yourself with anyone all the time – if you really care about your relationship with that person. There is nothing called unconditional love. Everything is conditional – only the degree varies.

But as I think it over, it doesn’t seem to be such a bad thing. On the contrary, I feel that it enables one to become a better person.  By responding to the demands of a relationship (assuming we want to make it work successfully), we constantly acquire new abilities. As social beings, there is no desire for us to get out of the relationship entanglement.  So, we just have to do our best.

Love ramblings

31 08 2009

It’s amazing how mysterious love can be, for something which is pervaded everywhere.

An interesting thing about love is that – nobody can tell you that ‘you’re in love’. You might have to feel it yourself. Of course this is true of other feelings too – jealousy, envy, hatred, sympathy etc. but ‘love’ is different in that you can’t be sure of it just like that – it usually takes time, sometimes lots of it. Why??

Sometimes in being overcautious not to believe as ‘love’ something which is not, one might be really letting ‘love’ go.

I have another fundamental doubt: how can one differentiate love for a person from the love of just being in love? What happens eventually in the later case? Is it right to even call it love?

Geez, it seems all I have is questions and assumptions…

May be ‘love’ is not meant to be analyzed and/or scrutinized so much. May be it’s just meant to be experienced and felt.

Taking in the theory that ‘too much analysis spoils the beauty of things’, I’ll leave this train of thought here.