A Cacophony of Storage, Sorting and Tagging

On the one hand, it's a great new sortable, taggable, searchable and findable world.

On the other, it's horribly disorganized with people migrating everything all over the place every few months – different handhelds, different computers, and now, different "interfaces" with the world – your own blogs, MySpace, Google docs, and the current flavor of the month: Facebook. And each time there's a new new thing we all swing over here then over there. I've stored so many links in Yahoo's My Web, and Yahoo 360, on Digg and Technorati and in iGoogle and Google Reader, and am starting to on Facebook, and then in my own browsers and various documents and spreadsheets. I have a few email accounts I use for nothing but storage.

I don't think I'm unusual in not being consistent in my storage and sorting and filing. Sometimes I have this laptop, sometimes I'm at that desktop, sometimes it's a shared computer, sometimes my smart phone, and sometimes there's no device at all, so I use pen and paper.

Every so often some new application comes along, and so I play around with it, then I start to maybe like it, and so start using it.

I can tag, which is great, but then I realize my tagging wasn't great, so I refine it. Or I discover it's been different from the crowd, and so change it to match.

I try to port from this device to that, and save all the addresses. I try not to be wedded to Microsoft's contact management capabilities through Outlook, but then I need it for one reason or another. I have an older version of this blog on another service (blogsome.com), because I didn't have time or energy to figure out a way to do an export of all the posts and swallow them in here. I think there was a way, but after about 90 minutes gave up and moved on, figuring those who were interested would find it. I probably will move off Blogspot at some point, and hope I can better export the posts at that point.

I'm wondering aloud where all this leads, and whether in 10 years we find ourselves more organized and glad for all the ways we've digitized our lives, or, when, say, Yahoo! goes bust, lamenting how much we put on there. (I have confidence if they do go bust someone will offer to store all the stuff.) Or if we can even remember where we put all the stuff. Philosophically, I know I've got more at my fingertips than ever, and that it's so cross-referenced and available that it's better than ever. It would have taken a staff to do what one person can do now. But still, it's worth thinking about where the cacophony leads.

And this doesn't even mention fears about having all one's stuff in one place that authorities or malevolent others can then tap into. Not to mention ownership. Sure, I technically own this content. Technically. But it's on someone else's servers. And so I don't really control it.

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