Armchair Archaeology

It started innocently enough. I just wanted to organise some of the wayward files on my computer and clear a bit of space to help my rather elderly, rather overwhelmed laptop cope a bit better with the day to day tasks required of it. I uninstalled some of my games as I tend to know play exclusively on Jeremy’s desktop, I streamlined my PhD files, making sure all the journal articles, administrative documents, and my papers had proper homes.

It was then that something possessed me. I thought to myself, gosh this set of folders is looking really nice. I know where everything is, I can find it all easily. Wouldn’t it be great if ALL my files were like this?

And so it began. The closest analogy I have to what I have undertaken is an archaeological dig of my entire digital existence. Thus far I’ve only gone through the files related to my time at university — all the universities. Yes, I’ve gone back through Leicester to Durham to a fellowship I undertook and back on through some continuing education course right on to where it all began sixteen years ago at undergrad.

First, I have kept A LOT. I re-discovered lectures from Durham. I have all my old assignments and papers. (I tried reading through a paper I wrote for a music history class in undergrad and couldn’t believe the level of awfulness. And what’s more, I was always praised for being an excellent writer.) I found a PowerPoint presentation I made to help everyone on my course at Durham revise for the Care of Collections exam. I made an entire Jeopardy game and when Jeremy and I tried to answer a few questions, we discovered how much we have forgotten.

Slowly, I’ve been whittling away at the ginormous amount of data. Some of it is bringing up really wonderful memories and some are bittersweet and some are best left forgotten. It’s remarkable how much of my life is in this electronic, metal box. I can trace my life over the past twenty years without getting off of my sofa. It does make me wonder if this is what archaeology will be in the future. Will our lives be reconstructed based on the files we kept? If that’s the case, I might want to delete a few more.

Anyway, I was just feeling really nostalgic and needed to process this experience a bit. Also procrastination. Always procrastination.

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