I would read this article later.
No, I don’t mean that you should read it later, I mean I personally would place it into my Instapaper queue and come back to it (maybe) much later. It is a problem that I have been running into a lot lately. I am actually so behind in my reading that I canceled my subscription to The Magazine since the articles I am in the middle of reading therein are coming out for non-subscribers to read for free. Don’t get me wrong, I intend to catch up (someday), but for the time being, I’m drowning in reading material.
Drowning in what I would call “junk” is endemic of quite a few areas of my life though. I wish I could just click a link every time and simply read-it-later, so to speak; queue up the things I would prefer not to deal with at the moment. Instead, it is reading that has taken a back seat to all the other things that are constantly vying for my attention. Yard work, cleaning the house, work, emails, bills, family, friends, etc.; if only there was a way to save each of these things and others to the read-it-later list of my life. The question consistently comes to mind, “Would I ever actually get to any of these activities or would they simply continue to pile up?”
In addition to online reading activities, I have a project that I am currently in the midst of: to read all the paper-based books in my house and get rid of them. Although this project has been taking quite awhile to complete, the timeline of Lexi’s pregnancy has provided the much-needed push to execute. In the hope that Lexi and I will minimize our lifestyles prior to the baby’s arrival, we have been donating much of our “junk” to Goodwill, so as to ease the transition.
However, I have slowly been adding to the reading list—whether to the front or back—items I would much prefer to read. What is the recourse for an ever-growing reading list when you personally have less and less time to read what is already encompassed there? Start over? Pare the list down without true execution? What does it say about me if I don’t follow through? What does it tell my future children? Am I giving too much credence to a random project that is deeply-rooted in my neuroses and obsessive-compulsiveness?
Herein lies the issue: “junk” has a physical connotation that is unfortunately no longer valid in my personal situation, as I now have more digital “junk” than I ever thought possible. Another project that I took on and finished last year was the digitization of all of my CDs (if I hadn’t already) and DVDs in my collection. In other words, I have a hard drive with Terabytes (yes, you read that right; no, that is not a typo) of media on it. While the transition to digital media has been great, as it gives us more space where there would otherwise be boxes and boxes of various optical discs, the question has now become “do I really need all of this digital media?”
Email is another situation about which many Internet personalities have lamented, especially recently. While I have email basically under control at this point due to perseverance, time, and an iOS app, called Mailbox, email as a whole is another source of information that gets out of control too often; how apropos that email would further use the term “junk” to denote much of the email that many individuals receive. Perhaps I will have to discuss my recent inbox clearing activities to assist others in such de-cluttering.
I have discussed my use of Instapaper at length on a variety of social networks and blogs and it is great. The ability to save articles for later reading has been a fantastic experiment over the years regarding my long-term interest in certain subjects. Unfortunately, with the aforementioned digitized media, I am left with more than a list of items that I need to read at some point. I now also have items to watch, items to listen to, and items to organize, not to mention the storage concerns; two steps forward, one step back.
As stated above, I hope that someday I will feel caught up and in control of all of the junk in my life, whether digital or physical. For the time being, I simply take each day one queued item at a time, reading, replying, donating, and so forth.
Did the Internet community peak at bookmarks? Asked in a different and perhaps more complete way: just as technologies like RSS and email in their purest forms are hard to beat even as technology marches forward, what better technology exists to keep track of information on the ever-expanding Internet than bookmarks? Taken a step further, what better way to share the bookmarked information than a site of your own? As such, I‘ve been reading, which is why I write now.
Working in and having a passion for libraries, I am struck by the fact that the way bookmarks work in the physical world is not directly analogous to bookmarks in the digital world. Bookmarks in the digital world are instead like dog-eared pages or highlighted passages; if you think of the Internet as a single tome, that is. In any case, anything that moves you to deface a book should probably be shared or become immortalized in some other way than just a reference for a future version of yourself.