How to organize your virtual life

Most of the time I write something or discuss something I am just too happy and biased about the invention ‘Internet’ to say something bad about it. Indeed I love to refer to simply educate people with media competency and everything will be fine. Well, that might be the case but if you have a closer look at what media competency would promote and how many people do not follow these principles I can hardly imagine trying to educate people who do not have any understanding about what is going on.

But let us start from the beginning. One of the contemporary – and future – problems of the Internet is the flood of information circulating in cyberspace. And it gets more and more each day, hour, minute, second… a gzillion 1’s and 0’s are added every second. Thus, the likelyhood that we drown in the sea of information increases. Apart from the constant trouble of getting the particular news from an accurate source there are four things I would like to talk about when it comes to self-organizing ones-self.

1. Information Sharing: A lot of my friends who are more nerdy than I am cannot understand why I use social networks. If I add that my CV is publicly available on my website they do not understand why they ever befriended me. Well, my usual answer is: If somebody is looking for information about me, he should get some. But he should get the information I WANT him to get. Therefore, he can access my homepage or befriend me on one of the different social networks. But in the end, I know what he knows.. and I can alter it.

2. Social Networks: Speaking of. Tweak your privacy settings every now and then. Check who writes what on your wall, untag yourself from pictures you do not like to be connected with. If you want to be hard on your ‘friends’, tell them not to write certain things on your wall or upload pictures with you. Also check the applications and games you are connected to because they collect most of your user and private information and it would not surprise me if most of them are then sold to the highest bidder.

Furthermore, ask friends who want to discuss important things, to email you. There are so many messages that you sometimes lose an overview. You cant categorize, you cant access it offline, so this should really be used for unimportant stuff. Otherwise, you might miss out on important information. Same with links on your wall and other things.

3. Emails: Make folders, if necessary a lot. Then categorize your emails so that you can easily find them if you look for them and also know on which you already worked and which still have to be answered. Even though a lot of people do that online I would always go for saving them offline using programs such as Thunderbird or Outlook. Then you have them always with you, where ever you go, even when there is no Internet connection.

4. Offline Data: Even your data on the computer should be organized. It is easy to backup, search for and work with when you know where the specific data you look for is. Also, keep all your data (from online sources, mobile phones, mobile devices) in one place. Thus, it makes it easy to backup your complete virtual life and also to access it. You do not need to look for your mobile phone when you search for pictures because it is all in one place….if possible encrypt your data there.

Well, that is just me sharing. I do want to sound like what I say is the only truth. It is just like that I have seen a lot of people getting lost with their own data. People who show more information on Facebook than in real-life and do not even know about it.*

What are the advantages? Clearly it helps you to cope with the flood of information which is inherent to what Alvin Toffler calls ‘The Third Wave’, Neil Postman ‘Technopoly’ or other simply ‘the information age’. Additionally, it is easier to adapt to new situations. The information is stored on your computer and you can easily find it. If that is pictures, an old syllabus or notes you took while reading on of my articles. It just makes life easier and safes time and maybe consternation.

Virtual organization can protect you against the Future Shock which has been predicted by Alvin Toffler and which I believe is slowly overwhelming a lot of us…

*This post is dedicated to a wonderful woman who never gets tired of getting lost in her own swimming-pool of data…well and in the streets of Manila 🙂

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