What do you do with big piles of technical and hobby articles collected during several decades?

My library of books is nicely organised and catalogued using LibraryThing, but the magazines and journals are a mess. There are a lot of things I don't want to throw away, but I never look at because finding the right item involves getting down dusty archive boxes (or worse: sorting through a random pile in a corner somewhere. And the items I have as PDFs aren't much better. Most are just collected in folders by publication, year and month. I need to do some sorting and indexing.


I'm one of those people who is terrible at throwing things away: I have shelves and shelves full of old letters, bank statements, magazines, course notes, and all kinds of other stuff.Most of it never gets consulted, at least in part because it's such a pain to find anything, and you know you'll have to climb on a chair and probably get covered in dust.

It obviously makes sense to throw away the things I never look at and never will need to look at. (Although that raises its own problems: the council only collects waste paper every four weeks, and shredding 30 years of bank statements is going to be a tedious job if they have to be fed into the shredder a page at a time...)

Digital storage is getting a lot cheaper than the living space it would take to store the corresponding amount of paper, and even exotic things like offsite backup that used to be the province of big corporate servers are now part of the everyday consumer experience - I already keep my photo library in the cloud, for instance. Digitising archives also gives you a lot more options for indexing and retrieving documents.

I'm one of the generation that grew up just as computers were changing from something remote and very high-tech to part of everyday life: in our school maths lessons, we wrote ALGOL programs that were sent off to a university computer centre to be made into punch cards and run (a week later, the output would come by post - frustrating if it was "syntax error in line 1"). But in the lunch breaks, we could use a TRS80 microcomputer that you could program interactively in BASIC. Much more fun!

1 Who was he?

Hilaire Belloc, in a radio broadcast in the 1930s, called Wodehouse “The best writer of English now alive. The head of my profession…”

Though, sadly, Wodehouse is no longer with us, there are still many who would agree with Belloc’s verdict. Wodehouse was an outstanding literary craftsman who learned how to write economically and give his stories structure and balance from an early training in the hard schools of journalism and Broadway musical theatre.

His real genius is in a breathtakingly original approach to the English language itself. He invents words and plunders slang, dialect, the clichés of popular fiction and the giants of English literature only to turn them on their heads and use them in altogether unexpected contexts. No other modern writer has so many citations in the Oxford English Dictionary, and even that most authoritative of works barely scrapes the surface of his linguistic originality.


1.1 Life and Works

Wodehouse started his literary career when he left Dulwich College in 1900 to work in a bank. He was determined not to become a colonial administrator like his father, and spent his spare time writing school stories for magazines and jokes and fillers for newspapers. By September 1902 he was earning enough from writing to leave the bank. His first book, The Pothunters (a school story written as a magazine serial) appeared in 1902.

While I was digging around on archive.org to try to discover when I'd started out with my personal website, I found this page of poems, all dating back to the late eighties and early nineties. Not deathless literature, perhaps, but if they are going to carry on a zombie existence on archive.org, I might as well acknowledge their existence.