Response to Team E-Waste Inquiry #2: Immaterial E-Waste

I think electronic waste can be seen as an improvement to carrying around your various mediums to store information. I’m a big fan of Dropbox, Google Docs, and my iphone Notes to keep my information easily accessible online wherever I may be. In terms of e-waste/hoarding, I would say I hoard notes from my Iphone and my Emails. A lot of times, I use my Iphone Notes as a quick and easy way to remind me of things I need to look up or important numbers. However, many times they don’t serve so well after awhile, quickly becoming e-waste when I revisit them weeks later and can’t make sense of what I have written. I end up with pages and pages of e-waste that I don’t want to delete because I obviously felt like it was important enough for me to make a note of, but also can’t decipher! Also, I’m sure I speak for most when saying that I always put off cleaning up my Gmail Inbox until the number of emails  becomes exponentially so great that I can’t fathom going through and sorting which emails are relevant, and which ones I am willing to delete.



  99hooker wrote @

I don;t see who this is but thanks for the posting. I also have a tendency to hoarde scraps and the escrapes are less materially interesting (less sense of history) but honestly I never looked at my old ticket stubs either, and when I accidently came across one it was more painful nostalgia than pleasurable remembrance, Thanks again

  cindypound wrote @

one thing that is interesting about gmail is that in theory you never have to get rid of everything….the whole service is predicated on providing unlimited storage for free…of course we know that in exchange for that google is using the intelligence that it captures and stores about us to serve targeted ads our way…and then we have to think about the giant server farm that google is building where they are storing all of our information….

i know people who never archive anything out of their inbox in google…they just leave it all there, millions and millions of messages…living happily in their own e-waste if you will…sorting in some ways is a useless exercise that serves perhaps the psychological need to have those old messages “out of sight, out of mind”, but one that personally i need to engage in. :-)

in terms of disposal terminology in use within gmail: for messages that you want to keep but sort away from your inbox, the term is “archive”. only in your spam folder do you have the opportunity to select messages to “delete forever.” i also just observed the other day that the “delete” button in gmail’s create/edit mode (ie when you are writing a message) actually says “discard”. but discard to where? and what happens to it? clearly it is not deleted forever or the button would say as such. interesting.

  jen rhee wrote @

Really interesting topic. I can’t believe how fast the whole concept of “cloud computing” took off, and how pervasive it’s become. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without filesharing tools like gmail, google docs, dropbox, flickr, etc. As I wrote about under Case 2, I’m constantly looking for more ways to pushing my data “out to the cloud” … not just those files that I think I might maybe want to access someday … but my most precious photos, documents, etc.

And in some ways, there are some interesting parallels to this idea of evacuation that we talked about in Base 1. This idea of cloud computing — and the ubiquitous nature of immaterial waste in general — is a paradigm shift for me in terms of how I think about the waste/not waste distinction. If there’s no sense of proximity and periphery in the conception of immaterial waste, how do we distinguish waste from not waste?


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