Once upon a time, Dear Mobilist, in an age we’ve almost forgotten, there were no Smartphones, no Tablets and not even any Computers – it’s hard to believe now, isn’t it?
In those days, there was a price for keeping all our photos, documents, energy bills, letters (what they used to call email), music collections and bits of string too short to be useful – and that was all the space they took up. Those who never quite mastered the art of managing all this stuff, rapidly ran out of room in their houses and had TV programmes (what they used to call YouTube) made about them, with titles like “Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder” and “The Jeremy Kyle Show”.
Sometimes these programmes would feature a lugubrious psychologist, who would explain that these hoarders were merely suffering from syllogomania and outlined some of the simple treatments that could help them, which normally involved “throwing stuff away” and “organising the rest of it”, to use the recognised medical terms.
However, in this exciting new digital age of ours, there is no such disincentive to keep things under control. Digital storage space is essentially free and even the very worst Acute Digital Syllogomaniac isn’t betrayed by symptoms like not being able to open doors or being crushed to death underneath tottering piles of newspapers.
The problem is made even worse by the amount of “stuff” the average person has to store in their digital world. Take photos, as an example. In the old days, the price of the film and subsequent printing of the photo provided a natural curb on the amount of photos that were taken. Add that to the phenomenon of a camera in every phone and it means that nowadays, 6 times as many photos are taken than back in 1990. Google Glass, when released, is rumoured to have a setting that automatically takes a photo every 30 seconds, so it’s clear that the amount of photos we need to manage is going to grow …. exponentially.
For some media formats, ADS is pretty manageable, even without an incentive to progressively chuck stuff out. Trying to find that email you wrote to your bank in 2008 isn’t too hard, even among all the spam we’ve been storing since back in the day. And finding a specific music track on Spotify couldn’t be easier in comparison to rifling through a pile of vinyl or CDs. But for others formats, such as photos and voice records, it’s not so simple, even with tagging.
I think that there’s a whole new industry evolving to help an ADS society, with the first wave emerging around managing photos. Companies such as Lifecake offer a central storage space to manage all your photos, but also encourage you to select and share your favourites as you go along. Your future self will thank the current you for completing this simple on-the-fly editing as you’ll subsequently be able to find the best photos in your collection, without wading though all those that shouldn’t really have survived at all.
And if you’re thinking about changing to a fairly future-proof career, might I suggest that the new field of Syllogomania Consultant might be worth a look? Helping companies and individuals to manage their data so that they find the good, relevant stuff.
All you need to figure out now is how to pronounce your new profession.