January 10, 2010

The Virtue of Enforced Minimalism

So last weekend, my laptop's hard drive died. I had just recently gotten an external hard drive, but didn't get around to actually backing up my data until it was too late; as a result, there's a better than even chance that about three year's worth of data has been lost. So let that be a lesson to you.1

On the other hand, starting from scratch (and upgrading to Snow Leopard to boot) has been an oddly freeing experience. For one thing, I've discovered that TextEdit (the barebones word processor that comes with every Mac) does the job for about 75% of my writing tasks. Another realization is that a lot of stuff I accumulated on my old hard drive simply wasn't that essential. It's not a terribly original insight -- in the age of the intertubes (see footnote below), possession of information matters less than access, in the form of search, social networks, webtools, etc. -- but I couldn't help but notice.

1 I should add that, between Gmail, Google Docs, and Dropbox, I actually haven't lost that much. The main thing that bites was losing all my music downloads -- but compared to the plight of the vast majority of people on this planet, I really should be counting my blessings.

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