Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mediaocracy on the home front

Mediaocracy is variously defined, but generally means "the system of maintaining control over a nation by utilizing the media."

For me, that definition has been turned on its head. You see, media—storage media in particular—have taken control of my personal digital and computing world.

Editors, and others who create, manipulate, and store documents, rely on effective systems of document version control and content management systems (CMS). And so it is, or should be, with the hundreds of personal files consisting of my own writing as well as freelance editing work.

An effective CMS would, in effect, allow me to see the forest for the trees. Unfortunately, what once was a clear view of the forest has been obscured to the extreme by the trees that have taken root and cluttered up my file world.

Two factors have contributed to the chaos that now exists across my files: (1) the importance of backing up files, and (2) the advances in storage media, including hardware, software, and online storage. Well, actually, make that three factors, the third being an interest in exploring and testing out the preceding #2.

So, where exactly are my files, and their copies? Various files exist in the Documents folders on two computers (my PowerBook G4 and iMac G5), on two external hard drives (USB and Firewire), on four USB flash drives (ranging from 128MB to 8GB), online (at Google documents, Soonr and DropBox), within two software applications on my computers (Scrivener and Journler), and most recently on my iPhone (the Documents To Go app).

It's been said that folks who lived through the Great Depression developed a "Depression mentality" that governed their conservative and guarded approach to personal finance for the rest of their lives. A parallel exists for those of us who have lost valuable files and data stored on our computers.

But having said that, one might conclude from reading this, that there's a fine line between backing up files and OCD. One would not be far from the truth. HELP!