Ian Singleton

Halfway there

Posted in Boddd by iansingleton on August 12, 2010

When I started the review of my scans, I reckoned that I would look at 150 each day in a process that would take me until Christmas. Less than two weeks in, I’m already fast approaching halfway.

First, the simple stats. I have chosen to “keep” 335 images in eight review sessions which have, in total, taken just over two hours.

And the keep is in inverted commas, because this process has taught me that many of the presuppositions with which I entered it are wrong.

  • It isn’t about choosing what to keep and what to discard. It’s really about choosing the things that I would like to see again. So what I should have done is select all the invoices and bank statements and pushed them to the back of the queue. I’m unlikely ever to WANT to look at them again. I might HAVE to, but that’s a different motivation.
  • It isn’t about choosing what to keep and what to discard. I don’t need to discard any of it. The original scans database grew to about 15Gb in size. That’s still a big old amount of data to move around. When compressed down, though, it drops to just over 1Gb. And when I put that database into Picasa on a netbook yesterday, the details on a magazine cover were still visible.
  • The figure of 150 a day came from dividing how many scans there were by the number of days until Christmas. It sounds like a real chore to go through 150 pages in a ring binder or a filing cabinet. When they scroll past you as thumbnail images, though, it’s the work of not very much time at all to process them.
  • There’s a great moment, normally accompanied by a smile, which is “I’d forgotten about that.” The real lesson from this exercise is that if all of these records are a means of triggering a memory, there’s something going on here about making those memories easier to access.
  • I used to think it was impressive that there were so many of them. Now, I think that would be more useful if I accessed them more frequently. There are two parts to that.
  • The first is that I didn’t access them because there were so many of them. I was slightly daunted by the sheer number of them.
  • The second is in in the phrase “access them more frequently”. If I look at 100 images a day, for example, the number of times I’ll look at a particular scan is much greater if there’s a pool of 335 of them rather than 11000.
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