I’ve spent my January 1st systematically beating everyone at Wii skijump and trawling through about a week’s worth of Google news alerts for “Sudan referendum”. I love Google alerts, mostly because they’re like a pre-programmed text analysis run on the previous day’s news that you can read on your phone in bed in the morning.
I decided to start collecting news from Google alerts in mid-October, and have been archiving – saving web pages as documents – since then, at a rate of about five a day. I don’t really know why I decided to start: some small quotes I wanted to save, some photos, some rather special Prendergast and Clooney-led I’m A Celebrity Get Me The President stuff. I just can’t let it go past, and I know I’ll try to refer to something in six months and find out that it’s gone. I’m only using a selection from a Google selection – hardly representative, biased as I am towards news about returnees to the south and the Referendum Commission’s disarray.
One outcome of this is that I have now got hundreds of news reports. I am fighting my own disposophobia, like my grandmother’s collection of useful string. I’ve been warned by friends that the only way to deal with vast amounts of data is to start synthesising simultaneously to collecting – basically, taking hundreds of photos of documents in an archive is great but mindless, unlike the hundreds of hours you’ll then spend staring at bad handwriting on an overbright computer screen. So resolution number one has been made for 2011: I will start going through these things. This brings up all sorts of problems, not least with my own selective archiving process as well as analysis of large amounts of mostly irrelevant background information. If anyone has any ideas about what to do with it all, please let me know.