Spacing Out

Out of Space

The relentless advance of digital storage blinds us to the value of limited space. Where once we had to choose which photo prints to purchase and which to throw away, now we can keep as many as we can take. Where bookshelves once limited the number of titles we could cherish, our eReaders allow us to have thousands accessible at a touch. Where events once had to find a place in the small squares of our annual calendars, online ones can accept more events than we could ever attend. How do we know what to let go anymore?

Moving to a new home used to mean paring one’s belongings down to what was worth its weight. If that book or DVD didn’t fit on the shelves, it went to a friend or to the trash. Only the best photos went into albums. We had to think twice about committing to an invitation if it didn’t fit into our day planner. We’ve lost touch with that natural filter.

But we can choose to embrace that filter. Tools like Trello are amazing but even they make it a little too easy to feel the full extent of your burdens or ambitions. (And JIRA makes it impossible.) A pin board with index cards forces you to think twice before trying to squeeze yet another nit-picky task onto it. Printed books and physical game cartridges force you to either forsake your wallet and go to IKEA, again, or to curate your collection and save your wallet instead. And you can sell or gift what you no longer want (or know you’ll never watch) to those who do, DRM be damned. Bailing on a fun event you know you’d regret missing feels that little bit harder when you have to physically strike the entry out to replace it. And, sometimes, we can stop ourselves from buying something we want but won’t need because we know there’s nothing we’d discard to make room for it. How will you decide what’s worth keeping?