Op-Ed: Digital Packrats - Too Much Data, Not Enough Time


Posted March 22, 2008 - By bleahy

As we move toward solid-state drives, cheap storage, and 16gb thumbdrives, we begin to run into a problem. The problem isn’t holding all of your data & media. You can grab an external terabyte of storage for around $250. Internals are even cheaper. No, the problem lies in having enough time to consume all of this content.

Take a moment and think about how many hours of content in TV shows, movies, music, games, or videos of kids getting kicked in the nards that you own or have available to you at any moment.

For example, I have about 300 DVDs (many of which are TV shows), 100 hours of DVR storage, a full 80gb iPod, full 8gb iPhone (with access to YouTube), a few externals full of random media, data DVDs full of stuff, and a large library of games. Some of these games are even Japanese RPG’s that last forever. That’s a lot of content and I’m just collecting more every day.

How many games do you buy that you don’t even finish? Do you get 1000/1000 on your 360 games? Do you go online with multiplayer? How many hours did you play Gears of War or Warhawk online? Multiplayer games have essentially no limit to their content as long as the servers keep going.

I still play older games like StarCraft and Counter-Strike and I’m sure many of you do too. I just purchased the Metal Gear Solid Essential Collection, which means I have now paid for MGS1 three times, MGS2 three times, and MGS3 two times. What can I say? I love the Kojima!

There are 8760 hours in a year and most of those are taken up by work or sleep.  Let’s say there are 2500 hours that you can reliably spend viewing some of this content in a year. Most of us have way more than 2500 hours of content and could probably even have something playing on the TV 24/7 all 365 days of the year without having to repeat anything.

What about things like YouTube, Hulu, and Break? How about Netflix and Gamefly? Now we have thousands and thousands of hours of content available to us instantly over the web. We have almost any movie or game a few days in the mail away from getting to us.

In essence, all this media we tech savvy folks like to collect will go mostly unwatched. We’re basically digital packrats. We collect and collect, but will never actually get the chance to watch even half of our precious data.

Why do we do this?

Think about your parents and grandparents. Do they have huge bookcases full of books and magazines? Ask them how many of them they’ve read. Ask for a percentage. I’m guessing for most people it’s pretty low. Now ask them why they have all those books. Share your answer in the comments, would you kindly.

This is the same thing that’s happening to our generation, but now it’s digital. Your kids are going to have their ultrahologram movies and look at your collection of DVDs and wonder why you got them. You better have an answer!

Op-Ed: Digital Packrats - Too Much Data, Not Enough Time


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