The fallacy of ‘future proofing’

This week I had to buy a new hard drive… my digital life now runs to over a terrabyte. This isn’t content for consumption, it’s all things I have made, and given the huge amount of information I am fastidious about keeping it all backed up. It made me think back to the several times I have had to re-jig the storage of my massive collection of files, and I think there are some lessons to be learned from this with some interesting parallels.

About 8 years ago when I was at University I ran out of space on my laptop and decided to buy an external hard drive. I bought a 160 gb one and transferred all my ‘stuff’ from about a hundred quickly decaying CDRs onto it. Being into music production, I knew I wanted to buy a MacĀ  at some point (Apple’s Logic is hard to beat). So, I decided I needed to format the disk in a way which could be read by both Macs and the PC I was using at the time. Rather than just formatting it as a single disk, this involved splitting it into about five different virtual disks, and making sure none of my files were larger than a certain size due to the limitations of the format.

In order to try to ‘future proof’ I made things very complicated, and forced myself into a sub optimal way of working just because of the promise of something that might come to be later. By the time I could afford a Mac, 160 gb was no longer enough for my music projects, and I had to buy another drive anyway.

I am a great believer in acting strategically, but quite often trying to ‘future proof’ things leads to extra work and a compromised experience for something that turns out to be superfluous anyway. The world moves on very fast, and these days I am coming around to the idea that it might just be a whole lot better to concentrate on creating the best present and trusting that will lead to the best future. Such an attitude aims to build the future, rather than defensively ‘future proofing’ against it. These days I much prefer building to defending.

 

Image: CC BY NC Mr. Mac

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