The Great Bookmark Burning Experiment of 2012
I used to abhor the idea of book burning. It represents censorship, the repression of thought, and the destruction of knowledge that took years to obtain, distill, package, and transmit. And I still detest information purging when done with such ill intent.
Bookmarks, however, are a completely different story. Content is being generated at an almost incomprehensible level. Just today alone (March 12th, 2012), there were over 184 million words published on wordpress.com hosted blogs. That is 2.5 bibles worth of content produced in a single day on one web service. Multiply that by thousands of sites around the world (and in other languages) and you can see it’s literally impossible to keep up.
And yet we try…
We all must face the reality that there are only 168 hours in week and we lose about 1/3 of them to sleep. And content is being created, transmitted, and connected to us faster than we can possibly consume it. And this trend will only increase as more people get online and begin creating and sharing their stories and content. At some point we must realize we can’t view it all. At some point we must cry uncle.
Today, is that day for me…
11,030 Bookmarks to Burn.
I don’t have a clue what “Voice to Skulls Success, 1974” means, and the link it once held (http://www.raven1.net/v2succes.htm) is dead anyway. I’m sure it must have seemed important or interesting at the time, but now it’s merely another shiny object to tug at my psyche.
And I wish that was the only mysterious link in my collection. At least half of them have no value to me whatsoever.
I started the entire process with good intentions. I created folders within folders and meticulously organized everything I thought would be important and useful. But as time went on, I found myself saving everything… like a hoarder saving old plastic forks because they could be used again ‘someday’.
But someday turned to never. And it was until I lost almost 20% of my links to a computer glitch last week that I realized it didn’t bother me at all that they were gone. In fact, I would be hard pressed to name even 5 links I had lost out of the 2000+.
It was at that moment that I realized I needed to change the way I dealt with bookmarks. It was at that moment that I decided to have my own bookmark burning intervention.
Why I’m No Longer Archiving Bookmarks
Even things I’ve bookmarked less than a year ago are dead or redirected. The web is shifting so much that it’s becoming more and more likely that the pages will no longer be there by the time I get back to them.
Easier to Search
Even with my anal retentive attention to detail with tagging and/or labelling my bookmarks, I still have an issue trying to pull some of them up because I’m using the wrong spelling, etc. With google, even if I misspell something, I’m still able to find things more consistently and quickly.
Easier to Share
If something is that important to me, why not share it on a social media site instead of bookmark it? That has three benefits. 1) It forces me to read the article immediately as I don’t want to be one of those people that shares something I’ll regret and 2) If it was that useful to me, it’ll probably be useful to someone else and I can help spread the message. 3) I’ll probably remember it more if I took the time to curate it.
Live in the Moment
My goal now is to save non-critical bookmarks for up to a week. If I haven’t gotten around to read about it by then, it’s clearly not important to me and I clearly have more important priorities. And I refuse to spend 2 hours a week organizing things into buckets instead of just reading and enjoying them.
The Plan Instead
So if I’m not going to be storing ALL my bookmarks, what will I be storing and what will I be doing? I’m going to go back to the basics:
- Reference links that I use at least once a week.
- Reading list that I will purge every sunday.
- Tools (Instapaper, Pinterest, Omnifocus quick save)
- Share it (blog post, google plus, etc)
And that’s it. If it’s not in those 4, they are gone. If it’s an amazingly important link, I’ll either remember it or store it elsewhere. But I’m done collecting links for no reason.
The Most Important Motivation of All
This will be the first of many experiments I’m planning for 2012 in my attempt to curb the amount of information overload in my life. After I (successfully) complete the transition with bookmarks, my next goal is to tackle the 162,737 archived emails, and then the 300+ RSS feeds, and then the several hundred gigabytes of stored media I no longer care about, and etc.
My hope? That I’ll stop wasting all my time managing data and get back to whole reason we should be using computers and the internet in the first place: to learn, to have fun, and to otherwise enrich our lives… instead of stressing ourselves out trying to store yet another semi-interesting article that we really had no intention of ever reading in the first place.
That’s the real motivation behind this.
And if you have read this far, please consider sharing this with your friends that suffer from information overload as much as I do. But please, think twice before bookmarking this link :)
About Rick Manelius
I'm a Drupal Ninja (brown belt), an aspiring author, a personal development fanatic, and an overall explorer of life. I own SoundPost Media, LLC— a Drupal agency that works with small to medium sized media compaies looking to improve their presence on the web. Stick around by subscribing to my feed, following me, or simply leaving a comment below. I appreciate you stopping by!