From a minimalist perspective we have touched on the issue of lightening our digital data luggage before, but we find worth repeating some simple steps of digital decluttering and their benefits to our conscience.
To the very real physical imprint of data storage located different places in the world, whether on our own laptop, shelves of our living room or the racks of a server farm, cloud computing data centers, where – I have learned – for every 100 Watts of running the servers, another 50 Watts are needed to cool them. One can really see, how each bit of data transferred comes with a certain ecological footprint.
Some countries can take advantage of their geographical location in making this data storage an energy efficient service by the use of their year-round cool to cold air temperature, for example in Canada, Sweden or Switzerland, or the readily available, carbon-neutral geothermal energy, like in the case of Iceland, which enjoys much of both.
But this being said, we do not recommend you seek out the greenest and most genuinely so services just to have a clear conscience for shooting up even larger masses of data to the clouds. This would be a sort of eco-hoarding, hoarding nonetheless, however, not unlike those methods of achieving simplicity – on the surface -, which employ smart storing/storage solutions (in a home, for instance), lending a neat and airy orderliness to the space, while the boxes, drawers, cabinets themselves, might still be filled to the brim.
Achieving and maintaining intelligible, efficient simplicity in digital data management is a grey area within minimalism, I find, as we cannot really call it uncluttering, doing away with the excess for good, although it does have periods of this nature, a virtual calm, when a large amount of data is deleted, and for a while nothing comes in to replace it. But more often than not, we rather do digital decluttering, when, say, the already nice and slim digital information is carefully kept slim in perpetuity.
What gave us the idea to talk about digital decluttering again, was a sudden decision to selectively go through and weed out our picture folders in Picasa, a software we have used for many years now and – turns out – for over two years we haven’t really done a clean-up to it. All photos taken during our two-year stay in the UK needed critical paring. After just three morning goes at it, we have tossed 1700 pics in the recycle bin, and counting. By the end, we’ll easily be able to double this amount.
You can do it too.
It’s tempting to keep all pictures of a good series taken of your little child, for instance, but if you look closer, within a good series too, you’ll discover imperfections, a less cute posture, gesture, mimic, disadvantageous light conditions, something bothersome in the background and so on.
Discard and avoid redundancies. Often there are shots with very little difference between them or pictures taken in diverse spots of the same general space, therefore having a lot of overlapping message to them. These are examples to redundancies which call for culling. Many times the capture of a single moment is sufficient to invoke those distant memories in their flow, relevant participants included.
Outside of photo album management, Picasa like Word, like Firefox, etc. are few of the potentially too many shortcut icons over the chosen background image on your PC screen. Revise them. It may turn out that several of those programs – some of which potentially take up a lot of memory on the specific drive – you hardly use at all and can easily do without. Delete.
Keep your email inboxes at a minimum too. I have 3 messages in my personal one. I constantly empty my associated trash can and stay up-to-date with deleting spam. One of my next moves will be revising my contacts from the contact list and keeping only the current, relevant ones, although I’ve concluded before that Google apparently stores back-ups of the contacts on its servers beyond your deletions – a bit of a concern, but at least I do all I can on my end.
The ownership of countless CDs and DVDs as such, might also prove to be an outmoded approach to media entertainment. For one thing, how many times could you, would you, should you – with good conscience – re-listen or re-watch the same music or movie? As this 2013 Forbes article states, even a media guru like Steve Jobs could have been wrong thinking that the majority of people want to own music, not rent it. And we are four years later now.
The range of trustworthy, high profile companies specializing on or having a department that deals with legal downloads is ever larger. Check out this extensive December, 2016 list of sites where you can find safe sources of download-to-own, pay-per-view or pay-per-time options whether it’s music, movies or TV shows you are after. Some of these names are: Pandora Radio, Spotify, Sling, Amazon Video on Demand (e.g. their Amazon Fire TV service), Netflix that many of us are already familiar with, CinemaNow.
A plethora of options, why would you want to dust your disc cases much longer?! Save art movie, independent film festival specialized cinemas, these could even be real alternatives to film theaters, that keep annoying viewers and waste their visitors’ time with an increasing amount of unsolicited trailers and commercials before the show even starts.
Viewing shows this way could be great social events too, when you have friends over and initiate discussions related to these custom screenings.
When it comes to non-material belongings, consider the material footprint they still have, be critical, think of alternatives, think out of the box.
Digital decluttering saves the Earth and it saves you a great deal of vital energy, so that, in turn, you can invest that energy on creative endeavors rather than the hassle of “wealth” management.