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June 20, 2016

Planning Digital Deforestation

OneDrive Planning

AS I WATCH MEN clearing part of a forest around our rented bungalow, knowing the land will be converted to a non-forest use, I realise I have 34 work days to prune more than a terabyte of items stored on my OneDrive at work. The annual process is part of responsible digital archiving. [1]

In May 2016, I transferred several software licenses onto the Surface Pro 4 that I'm currently using as my main workhorse. When I did, I realised the older laptop had accumulated more than 10 GB of files that should have been either deleted or moved to cloud storage. Now I'm trying to figure out ways of preventing that sort of bloat with the newer Surface. I know it's really down to the digital workflow I follow. I've highlighted some items on the screenshot above to guide me through specific days of digital deforestation routine.

Avie Uniglicht, the Tech Concierge™ advises "to manage your data, you must first establish a structure to organize your personally created files so that you can easily store and retrieve them. Knowing WHERE you store and place your files is the first step in the data management cycle. The “WHERE” includes the physical storage location which might be your local hard drive, a USB storage device, a Network Attached Storage device, a Server, or a Cloud storage host. In addition to the physical device, the location where you save your data on that device is important for easy access". [2]

Over the years, I've evolved my data storage structure. In the late 90s, I used a flat filing system with askSam and as long as the title or simple text in the file contained words I would use to search for the item, all was well. By late 1998, I discovered that if I blogged about things, my blog search facility (or Google's) would find information I needed. Once again, I had to remember a relevant search string to ensure I found what I needed.

Filing systems that incorporate date-place information have helped me locate things through association. I've learned this lesson while processing more than a terabyte of cameraphone images since 2002.

I already let me Xperia cameraphone automatically push its photos and videos up to both Flickr and OneDrive for safe-keeping. Those auto uploading routines can flatten my phone within four hours of using it on a family outing. Photographs have very valuable geolocation data inside digital images and I hope to be able to populate my own personal screen of pinpoints on a media server some day.

Pruning my work OneDrive will not trim back thousands of audio files, gigabytes of video files and terabytes of still images that I've collected since I first started carrying a cameraphone in 2002. During the past five years, I've used my phone as the main means of acquiring data. The phone is a scanner, an audio recorder, a still camera and a video camera too. If I improve my workflow with the phone, I improve the maintenance of my personal digital forests.

I also have six terabytes of removable storage containing Acrobat documents, Excel spreadsheets, legacy XML material from four personal laptops, and Word documents. I need to catalog those assets inside OneNote so they're searchable. While I'm dong that, I must produce a good inventory of a suitcase containing both 3.5" floppies and 5 1/4" floppies. That will be a challenge since I don't have easy access to those sorts of drives anymore.

I don't want to reach retirement age and discover my life has been one big exercise in digital amnesia.

As I prepare to spend a few days with the e-learning summer school in DIT Bolton Street, I'm going to see if Google Image Search can locate some of the academic work that I exposed to Google crawlers during the past two academic years. [3] The prominence of that search engine result will guide my digital deforestation tactics during the next two months.

  1. Bernie Goldbach -- "Responsible Digital Archiving" on InsideView.ie, February 13, 2010.
  2. Avie Uniglicht -- "The File Cabinet" on AskAvie, March 20, 2016.
  3. Bernie Goldbach -- "Getting a Perfect OneNote Routine" on InsideView.ie, April 5, 2015.

+++ Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business in the Limerick Institute of Technology where staff and students use Office 365. Bernie's Surface Pro 4 is a loaner from Microsoft.

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