That stack of binders that you see in the photo above is my collection of email from mid-1996 to the end of 2001: five years, four binders — really big binders. This is just my half of the correspondence, you understand. It's just the stuff that I wrote and doesn't include incoming correspondence. This archiving has been a fair amount of work because I copied and pasted each last piece of email into my word processor. I would collect a month at a time and make a simple cover page for that month, print it up, and put it in a binder.
After the year 2000, I rethought the process to some degree and have since contented myself with archiving the files onto CDs, thereby saving a lot of ink, paper, and shelf space.
"But why did you do this silly thing at all?" you ask.
Mainly because I have never been very good at keeping a journal. And so it seemed that preserving my emails was as close as I would ever come to maintaining some sort of chronicle. Whether I, or anyone else will ever read it, is of secondary importance.
Email was my first big kick on the Internet, and, in fairness, it is probably still the Internet's killer app. Some people chat; some people message; some people surf; some blog; some, but very few, do all of these things. However, everybody emails.
I really emailed, however. In addition to the normal writing to friends and family, I regularly wrote to pen pals in Singapore, Japan, Israel, England, Australia, Georgia, Ohio, New Hampshire, and British Columbia. There may have been more, but that is all that my dimming brain can dredge up at the moment. Over the years, sadly I suppose, all but one correspondent have fallen by the wayside.
Just last week, however, I obtained a Gmail account. I don't know if I will use it a lot or not, but Gmail archives material differently, and that got me to pondering my own archival habits. I came to the conclusion that because I no longer email as religiously or prodigiously as before, and because I now blog fairly regularly, there remains no compelling reason to continue to preserve and archive my email.
"To every season, there is a time." The time for archiving my email has passed. Enough already!
But I really must start archiving my blogs ... some of them at least.