For a while now I have been hearing and seeing slogans that go like this "Save The Earth!", "Go Green!", "Reduce Your Carbon Imprint!", "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!". You’ll all agree with me when I speculate that these reference to actions are solely in the real world and not really in the online world. It is only in recent times with climate change, global warming and dwindling natural resources that people have developed a conscience. People are slowly starting to think of the repercussions if they use plastic bags, if they don’t recycle, if they consume more than they need, if they don’t switch off the lights or turn off the tap. But do you once stop and think about what you are doing to the internet? Who knows what might become of it, if we all become very callous about the way we use and abuse it, using more and more, much more than we actually need.
Here are some things you can do to clean up your digital mess. This will ensure that you are doing your bit to not let the internet become a wasteland of dead information and links some day. It will also ensure that the internet doesn’t get clogged up with a lot of redundant data.
PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF
A few days ago, I started thinking about the effects of too many websites offering similar stuff, our need to be on every social network possible then quickly losing interest, the wasted crumbs of bits and bytes that we leave in our wake when we enthusiastically sign up online and then abandon that website in a few days. A lot of the websites regularly purge out inactive accounts and information, but a lot of them still don’t. What do you do when say you sign up for Google Wave or a Behance Account fully intending to make good use of it, but a few days later realize that you just don’t have the time to devote to it? You forget all about it right? How many of you actually go back and delete your account and information so that the system is not unnecessarily cluttered with user information that is not really headed in any direction and is inactive? When you are shopping in the freezer section of your supermarket and have a hankering for frozen pizza and you open that section door, then decide you want to eat healthier. Do you then just leave that door open and move on to the next section? You get my gist.
Pick up after yourself, not only in the real world but online as well. As I write this post, I am mentally preparing a list of my over-indulgence and all the orkut, hi-5, multiple twitter accounts that I have created and I don’t really use. I am going to be deleting all my accounts that I don’t use. Make the internet a little lighter!
USE IT, DON’T ABUSE IT
Like a lot of the other design blogs out there, I got a plugin for Community News and installed it on my WordPress blog. People started submitting links and I started getting that extra content for my blog, interesting links to quality articles. At first it was all good, but then I really started thinking of the repercussions of what I was doing. Awesome backlinks aside, if every blog out there started putting up a community news section and everyone just submitted their links to all the blogs that accepted them, what would happen to a blog’s originality? This was still not that bad until I came across what I call the "pass through" pages. A lot of the designers have taken the community news section links and given each link a page of its own, prompting the user to actually click on 2 links before finally reaching the source article. This "pass through" page just has a link, a one-line excerpt and some ads. It is totally unnecessary and very annoying. It is also there for the sole purpose of gaining extra page views and ad impressions. Imagine what a "pass through" page, now popping up on gazillion sites is doing to the search results. I shudder to think of all the multiple instances of the same article being channeled via a dozen different avenues, riding on a wave of click after click.
When someone comes up with a nice service, someone else will always find a way to not just use it, but abuse it. Maybe we can develop an online conscience and think about our actions without factoring in a few hundred more page impressions and a few extra dollars. Everything shouldn’t be about having more, owning more and making more.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
The way it works is that if you don’t waste what you have, you won’t need more. If you don’t need more, someone else who needs it can have it. You are also not burdening yourself and your environment with an oversupply of things you barely use. Designers, developers and geeks … are you listening? I know how funky gadgets can send some of us into a frenzy, how our hearts desire bigger, better machines, more RAM, more storage, more tech bling. I want a Wacom, a bamboo maybe? I covet it secretly. But I have a 6×4 inch 2003 Wacom tablet that works for me. Did I just see you raise an eyebrow? Don’t judge me yet. I am what you might call an amateur vector artist, so that primitive piece of technology works for me. I wouldn’t want to waste the advanced functionalities or big bucks involved in a higher model for basic Illustrator work now, would I? Waste not, want not!
EVALUATE AND SIMPLIFY
I was guilty of having too many gadgets, too many graphic resources, too many design books and magazines. When you have close to 15,000 fonts, it is time to evaluate what you are doing wrong. And when I realized that most of my time which I could’ve spent learning something new or designing something wonderful was actually spent in organizing, shuffling, storing and managing my "I-really-didn’t-need-all-that" resources, I decided to simplify. There is such a thing as "just too much" and a lot of us are guilty. We go about our day following too many people on Twitter, reading too many blog articles, managing too many social obligations, downloading too many photoshop brushes, stocking up on fonts and textures we don’t even really like, saving every zipped file of every free icon set we can find, bookmarking links we are never going to go back to.
Sometimes you just need to be harsh with yourself. Stop what you are doing and get out of that rut of too much. Evaluate what you need and what you like and train your actions to only follow through what you have decided you want. A 100 carefully picked variety of premium fonts is a million times better than a 1000 free fonts, most of which you are never likely to use. So cull your design stash, simplify your gadget situation, condense and simplify your storage, your PCS/MACS, your flickr/deviantart/delicious accounts, your rss readers. You will not only do your gadgets/electricity bills a favor but you will enrich your life with more time to learn, enjoy and evolve. Oh and remember to switch off your computers/notebooks when you are not using them, it takes less than a minute to switch off and power on!
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