Saturday, May 12, 2012

Email mining

Regular readers of my blog (I think there are still a few) have probably noticed I haven't been posting as often lately. That's because for several months I've been involved in a project which I have termed "email mining".

Basically, I have been going back through all of the old emails I have on my various computers, as far back as I can find them (which seems to be 1996), and pulling out various emails to save for posterity. The are ones which I feel had to do with something important in by personal and/or business life, or just simply reminded me of things I used to do do.

The main reason I am doing this is that I realized some time ago that over the years, especially the past decade, I have put a lot of my time and energy and creativity into email communications, with family members, friends, and business associates… and I also realized that if I don't do something to archive those emails -- or at least some of them -- it is quite possible that over time they will simply vanish, perhaps with a computer crash. Email does seem so much more ephemeral than old-school written or typed letters. Some of it is deservedly ephemeral, I know, but some of it is worthy of preservation, in my view.

So for the last couple of months, I have been doing a lot of "grunt work", sifting through the old emails and converting them from the proprietary format of my email software into text files which I can open and combine in my word processor into long text documents suitable for printing. I am probably going to go through these long documents (I've made one for each year since 1996), and annotate some of the more important or significant parts. Then I will print these documents out on the new printer I bought for Jeannine last month, which does duplexing (two-sided printing) quite nicely, and after that bind those sheets with my comb binding machine.

It's been an interesting process, partly tedious, but also revealing. There are things in these emails which I had totally forgotten, a few of which are still somewhat mysterious. But it has also helped to give me a clearer sense of what my life was like during some extremely busy and trying times. -- PL


Adam Riches said...

I had noticed you weren't posting as much (so you still have at least one guaranteed reader!) but I figured beggars can't be choosers. I've been doing the similarly tedious task of converting all my VHS tapes to DVD over the last several months, for the same reasons you listed, but also because it will save me a lot of space. It is really amazing some of the things you come across, but more importantly the things you can discover about yourself with the benefit of hindsight when undertaking projects like that.

Mark H said...

Sounds like a big project. I'm still happy to see your posting on your blog. I enjoy your pictures and, movie reviews. The pictures you posted of the eagles with their fledgling are really cool! Plus, I have found little nuggets of wisdom on this blog. I myself never would have thought of mixing hummus in my tuna sandwiches instead of mayonnaise. Now it is the only way I will eat tuna! Good luck with your email mining. Sounds like a fun project! Are you planning on ever printing out your blog and archiving it? I have read a lot of your blog postings and, you have put a lot of work, thought, and yourself into this blog the past four years.
Have a good one!

Mark H said...

Hey Pete,
If you are interested and, can find the time, you should check out some of my new bird pictures. I think you would like them.

Bird Pictures

I've managed to capture a few shots of a Baltimore Oriole at my Hummingbird feeder. The pictures are not perfect quality. I had to take most of them through my window zoomed in. It seems to be the only way to get a shot of the Oriole without scaring him off.

Have a good one,