April 30, 2004

Throwing Stuff Out is Obsolete

From time to time, I tidy up my hard disk. I delete useless old files and excess Tinderbox notes. I weed out the worst snapshots, the redundant images and the blurred pictures and the pictures I accidentally took of someone's feet.

This is probably a mistake. It often costs more to decide to throw something away than to save it forever.

Let's run the numbers. Suppose I have a Tinderbox note containing a grocery list . Should I throw it away after I've bought the groceries?

In practice, storage costs will be dominated by the time you spend maintaining the system, copying files every three years to a new disk, and pruning unwanted files.

This has interesting implications for software design. Frank Shipman's VKB, for example, saves your undo stack forever, so you can go back and look at the state of your document last October. You never know what you might need.

Discussion: realkosh • Doug Miller •