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Why you should digitize 'everything'

Mike Elgan | May 11, 2009
How a lifestyle experiment and a disaster made me realize the value of turning atoms into bits

It turns out that my son is an even more extreme digital nomad than I am, so he readily agreed with our project: Photograph all the trophies (at least the ones that weren't damaged in the moves), and then get rid of them all. So we lined them up in the backyard, my son posed for the pictures, and I snapped away. We then donated most of the trophies to a local karate instructor who teaches small children. He removed my son's name and other details on the trophies and gave them to the kids in school tournaments he held.

For the first time ever, all my son's friends and family members have now seen his trophies, thanks to Facebook and photo-sharing sites. Which raises a philosophical question: Are the trophies gone now? Or were they "gone" before?

And we no longer have to manage all those boxes. Best of all, neither fire, nor time nor neglect can destroy the photographs we took of them.

We did the same thing with various plaques, awards, certificates of achievement by all members of the family.

Other items, such as old family pictures, we digitized but did not discard.

So now we've downsized. And while we're worried for friends who have evacuated the fire areas, and worry that they will lose everything they own in the fire, we don't have to worry about our own personal stuff we digitized.

So whether you're a digital nomad, want to simplify your life, or just want to protect your most valuable possessions in case of disaster, digitize everything. It's cheap, easy and is definitely worth the effort.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. He blogs about the technology needs, desires and successes of mobile warriors in his Computerworld blog, The World Is My Office. Contact Mike at, follow him on Twitter or his blog, The Raw Feed.


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