Clever Laziness

Data Hoarding and the Death of Collecting

Juan Villela

The modern world has transformed how we consume and engage with media. We now have access to a nrealy limitless quantity of data and information. But this has come at a cost. Because of the ease of access and endless storage, we are overwhelmed by information, making it difficult for us to build meaningful relationships with it.

It’s easy to forget that we once had physical relationships with the media we consumed. We used to arrange and organize our collections, designing our one-of-a-kind structures that reflected our individual preferences and tastes. This relationship, however, has been disrupted by the growth of large tech companies and the digitization of media. Platforms like Spotify and Netflix, for example, dictate how we interact with our media collections, updating their interfaces and rearranging data based on algorithmically generated profiles of ourselves.

Unlimited streaming allows us add any number of items to our libraries with ease, but it also pushes us to consume more information quicker, which leads to hoarding and dilutes the value of the stuff we add. The reliance on the automated curation of these services have replaced the necessity for sorting, and our connection with our media has altered as a result.

As a result, we have lost control and agency over our collections. There is no curation. Just software figuring out how to keep us on the platform.

Can we reclaim control of our media? Sure. But not without some effort. We could be more conscious of the information we consume and prioritize what is important to us, rather than just storing everything away for later. There should be a purpose behind what we choose to keep.

We can improve the processes for organizing and prioritizing the stuff we collect. This does not necessarily imply having private data silos, but rather an archive that is structured and searchable, and available to anyone who requires it. A well-organized archive not only makes it simpler to find what we need but also raises the value of the material we gather.

The majority of people, however, lack the time and resources to arrange their media in this manner. And while physical media has had a revival, it is still not as practical as its digital counterparts. But there are ways to curate your media purposefully, even if you don’t have the time or resources to organize it. Plex, for example, allows you to create a media library that is organized thoughtfully and can be accessed from anywhere. Roon does the same but focuses exclusively on music. These platforms are not perfect, but they are a step in the right direction.

We can rekindle the connection with our media by intentionally seeking out the stuff we want and creating new experiences and memories with them. By taking a step back and embracing the tangible aspect of media, we can rediscover the nostalgia and emotional attachment that has been lost. Our relationship with media is not just about access, but about the memories and emotions that we associate with it.

Here’s a quick list of online stores where you can build digital media that’s not tied to a streaming service or monthly subscription:

I mentioned using software like Plex and Roon, but you can also manage your libraries without the need for a home server. Here are some options:

See Also

The Ephemeral Web

We often take the permanence of our online data for granted. But as recent events have shown, this is a dangerous assumption. Archiving can help you regain control of your data and ensure that you have a copy that's safe from the whims of the digital world.

Spreadsheets Revolutions

I was dissatisfied with the current bookmarking solutions out there, so I decided to make a custom one instead. This started with a myriad of Airtable bases and then—for some stupid reason—I decided to roll my own hosted database.

Owning Your Data

When your data is the source of revenue, whoever has it will do anything to protect it and reassure you that it is best placed in their hands. But when it isn't at risk of being lost, it's being utilized to violate your privacy.