Digital Clutter

I received an email (two actually) yesterday warning me a server’s IP address was going to change, and that I needed to update my DNS records for the associated domain. However, the domain was registered eight years ago, and I don’t really use it for anything anymore. The only remaining dregs is an email address, which I had until now forwarded to my current account. Changing the DNS records is easy. You just have to remember which registrar you used eight years ago. And remember which DNS service you use for the domain. And remember or track down the credentials for both these sites. And about then you realize that the server is getting shutdown soon, and that you might as well set up the whole email account on the host you are switching to.

The digital life many of us live leaves a huge trail of photos, messages, emails, and miscellaneous bits. As the price of digital storage decreases we can easily and affordably keep every last one of these digital remains. But should we?

In America we often have the space to collect and collect and collect. Boxes of stuff rest untouched for years. Sometimes they wait until death, to be discarded by children. On the digital side, possessions are complicated and entangled in legalities. Rather than wandering into these post-mortem preoccupations, I am thinking of our current behaviors and their effects on our lives.


There are times when we obviously want to keep photos, emails, and other data. But having this ability to keep does not mean we should. We need to understand the consequences of this keeping. In my personal agglomeration of bytes I notice how every addition adds to the complexity. We should consider letting the unused parts of our digital past disappear.

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