Silicon Footprint Reduction

I checked the web to see if this term is in wide-spread use. I only found it on the Urban Dictionary:


The amount of server space your files take up on a shared network, too much of which can cost your company excess storage fees or cause "insufficient space" error messages.

{by MILatino, November 1, 2011}


So, with that credit acknowledged, let's get into why I'm using this term. Over the years, I have acquired uncountable files, created hundreds of online accounts and generated thousands of pieces of content online. Needless to say, my silicon footprint is larger than my "stride" (ability to retrieve and make use of the assets.)

I am a life-long learner. The problem is that much of that learning is academic, meaning that it has no use beyond my knowledge of it. There is nothing wrong with learning for fun, except for the litter of digital junk left behind when I move on to something else. Accounts, tutorials, personal tools, PDFs and backups of all those things taking up space in archives I don't remember making.

How should I deal with this noise? Because it is not silent; if I encounter a folder, even in passing, it's going to make me pause to consider it. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like clutter on my computers and other digital devices. So the question of fixing this nagging issue is not academic. The answer has eluded me, so far.

Scorched-earth is not the way to go, because I always regret it when I suddenly remember a file from the past and realize that I destroyed it.

Systematic archive, on the surface, is great. I preserve files, "just in case" and, I remove them from sight. Upon further reflection, I know this is not ideal, as I'm merely kicking the can down the road. This was written in 20223 and I still have an archive of files from 2019 that I was supposed to review, organize or delete.

So what, then? The only thing I can do is to critically review anything I encounter. This is one time where email notifications are priceless. Two days ago, I got a membership renewal reminder for Sharon's Anti-Racism Newsletter. That's a keeper, I read every issue and often share my thoughts on the topics presented.

The very next day, I got another renewal reminder from Power Query Academy. It is a great resource and I developed a relationship with one of the instructors. I even got acknowledged as a beta-reader for his book, Master Your Data With Power Query in Excel and Power BI. However, I had already learned the 20% of material that is responsible for 80% of my freelancing success in the PDF extraction niche. A lot of the course material is given over to data analysis, which I don't need. So, I canceled my subscription.

I'll still have access to the Academy, just not that course. So, in this sense, I'm reducing, not the size of my silicon footprint, but the depth of my tread. That depth, viewed pedantically, is influenced by electronic funds processing, email notifications of new videos, participation in the online forums and the availability of downloadable course materials, such as sample workbooks and PDFs. When you see that list, you can feel the weight of all those transactions!

It turns out that I often substitute one thing for another. I recently decided to take a deep dive into the Korean language. My son shared a couple of great YouTube videos here and here. Clearing out stuff helps to energize me for new adventures. So, really, I have to work even hard to reduce my overall silicon footprint.


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