Post Academic

Hoarders, Academic Edition–Part 3: Digital Clutter

Posted in First Person,Surviving Grad School by Arnold Pan on April 9, 2010
Tags: , ,

You’d think that entering the digital age would help me keep things tidy, but you’d be wrong.  First, the piles of paper, as I mentioned last time, aren’t completely gone, even if the stacks are getting smaller little-by-little over time.  Second, I’ve just become a digital hoarder and my problem is probably worse in virtual reality than it is in the real world.

Here’s what’s happening to the steadily dwindling gigabytes of memory on my computer:

1. More and more computer files: It seems that the word processor was invented for the academic who thinks almost any thought might be a diamond in the rough, because it helps you remember things and develop ideas you might have otherwise forgotten about.  But it doesn’t help you if you create so many drafts that you forget which file was a brainstorming session and which was a more polished draft, or which version is the more recent one and which is the default to go back to if your writing is going nowhere.  Plus, I know that it’s probably not a great idea to give all these minutely different drafts almost the same file names, but calling them different things also confuses me.

What makes all the clutter worse is that I not only keep it on my computer after I finish a project, but it’s likely that I’ve transferred old, outdated files from one computer to the next.  Best/worst case in point: I still have random drafts of sections of chapters from my long-completed dissertation floating around on my current laptop, even though I actually finished the thing two computers ago!  Even as a I prepare to go post-academic, I still have some crazy thought in the back of my mind that I just might revise the 400-page beast into a book and that I just might need those half-baked ideas that didn’t make the cut into the actual dissertation.  Of course, even if I did happen to ever work on the diss manuscript again, it’s unlikely I’d ever look at those old drafts again and I wouldn’t even know where to start if I did!

More and more digital clutter below the fold…