March 12, 2008

Subtraction Through Addition Making Me Even More Digital

Living in the Bay Area, and not preemptively well off, my wife and I own a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo in Sunnyvale. It's not the largest of homes. It doesn't have a backyard and isn't in a plush neighborhood. The kitchen is small. The elevator between floors can be an adventure, and our dining room is barely more than a table's width long. But now, with two little ones on the way, we're staring directly at this lack of available space and making changes - ones that are dramatically impacting my own possessions and moving me further into the digital world.

In our home, our two bedrooms can be summed up simply by saying the first one is ours, and the second one has primarily been a dumping ground for anything we didn't want visible. It, the smaller of our two bedrooms, has been the repository for laptops beyond their time, for my bookshelf, my old baseball card and stamp collections, and decades worth of Stephen King paperbacks, not to mention a vast collection of CDs I'd accrued since college.

But with the twins looming in the next 100 days or so, change is in the air.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, I opened up an account at Public Storage, and each Saturday, my wife and I have been going through our worldly possessions, deciding to "Keep, Toss, Goodwill or Put in Storage". And each Saturday, I've seen a good deal of those things I used to call my most prized items be reduced to rubble. The bookshelf? Dismantled and tossed for scrap. An old 27" CRT television? Off to goodwill. Boxes and boxes of books? Put in Public Storage, with some going to work. My stereo, with a 50-CD carousel, dual cassette and AM/FM? To a friend, complete with CDs inside. I even took two booklets containing hundreds of CDs and gave them to coworkers, hoping I still retain borrowing privileges. And yes, we've gone through our closets a few times to get rid of clothes I know will never fit again.

Quickly, I've seen what I own largely reduced down to what I can wear, what I can consume, and that which will help me download. Given I'd already imported the vast majority of CDs into iTunes, kissing them goodbye was less a feeling of loss, and more of a technology transition. Similarly, seeing dead-tree books put into boxes made me wonder if I could instead be seeing the iTunes/iPod equivalent of eBooks debut any time soon. I don't think the Kindle is the answer yet, but we're close. And the beauty of going digital? It doesn't take up nearly as much space. Now, our biggest issues in the near-term can consist of where to keep all the orphaned wires from gadgets gone by - at least, until our two permanent visitors make an appearance.