Personal little islands of knowledge

This is a post I imported from another site, published in March 2018, under a different title – Why collecting may help me stay motivated. 

I’m a fan of collecting things. In a world where we are increasingly flooded by information, often interesting, it is important to curate your own selections as far as I’m concerned. I like to collect things of interest to me. Keep them. Not all. Have to be selective. But collecting also has this social dimension – for sharing and connecting.

This post is inspired by Farenheit 451. Ray Bradbury has really made an impact and ultimately left me with a positive feeling after the thought-provoking narrative. Why? Because for me, he highlights in his story that to collect ultimately means to preserve wisdom and heritage and to engage in social acts with others, to connect. In the final scenes Montag, the fireman protagonist who betrayed his profession because he felt something important was missing from this bleak and monotonous life, meets a group of people who tell him to memorise books and to read other parts of the same book, he ought to seek other people who did the same.  In other words, to collect a part of a book  by committing it to your own memory and then share it by retelling it to others For me, that is ultimately very hopeful. And this is also a gift of social media. As warped as it has become, with all its trickery, privacy issues and shams, I think it is, in essence, a well-intentioned idea that has encouraged not only staying connected but spreading, sharing and exchanging ideas in the global village of the Internet.

I’ve been a collector all my life. At first, I collected Backstreet Boys materials.  I wanted to be more social – exchange the materials, fangirl together with others, be a part of the group and share the ritual.

The second time when I feel collecting has had a social significance for me was at university. I  made and kept notes from classes. It may seem like nothing extraordinary but the thing is, we also exchange notes. By exchanging notes, we filled one another’s gaps of knowledge we needed for the exams. Well. I still keep my university books and notes, though I no longer use them to engage in any social activity. In other words, now I simply hoard. But they are the testimony of the learning I’ve done, a tangible thing and who knows when I might want to refer to them again – they have sentimental value and for memory sake, while I was able to part with some by now, I keep others because of sentimental value. But less so the more time passes since graduation since I  need to declutter and focus on other things.

Nowadays, I mostly collect books, games, artworks, songs and movies, learning material like TED talks that are meaningful to me and might inspire me. I also love collecting vocabulary items in lists. Keeping things that are curated by me, that have a significance for me. paperless, hanging in electronic space that I’ve designated for that purpose, backed up from time to time. One by one, take time to think and collect and keep items that give you joy or teach you something you find interesting or useful, but declutter once in a while – that’s my rule.

There’s another aspect of collecting – jogging memories. I was inspired here by this  fascinating and fun TED talk:

It’s kind of associative collecting, and it let him jog a memory whilst engaging with a whole bunch of people who sent him stuff. The talk is fun and entertaining. and, for me, inspiring. It made me think of photographs and other mementoes that are also collected for the sake of memories, keeping those memories at hand, capturing the time.

So in the end, I like collecting as a social act and collecting as an act that helps fill in gaps of knowledge and as a result – to preserve things for myself, make my selections. For sharing later on too. Curating such things for oneself is an engaging act. I like making lists and lists of favourites because they help me decide where I found actual value or enjoyment. It’s also an activity that keeps me focused. I need to be selective. I also sometimes feel a need to share what shapes and influences me, what I’ve learned – and if we can share among ourselves, and learn from one another – there’s a great value to me in that. That’s why I insist on sharing sources too – potentially new sites or digging around, sites I might not have known if I haven’t stumbled into someone else’s posts. Social media made it easy. There is a wealth of knowledge to draw from and maybe we can draw from each other’s personal little islands of knowledge – and I guess Pinterest is literally that sort of thing –  to exchange, but also to avoid falling into specific bubbles. Without moving out of your own island to see what others share and see a different perspective, it may be also a little dangerous and too narrow.

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