Wired News: Downloading Is a Packrat's Dream:
"Like everyone else, compulsive hoarders have gone digital. Infohoarding may be the first psychiatric dysfunction born of digital age.Okay, I'm not that bad. Not even close. But still, I've got a lot of digital junk laying about.
"Jim" is an infohoarder like few others. In the last four years, this 37-year-old Brooklyn native has downloaded and burned every piece of broadcast and print media that's been digitized. Or so it seems. His apartment is filled with DVDs and CDs packed with bootleg anime, comic books, books, e-books, television programs, movies and, of course, music. He's a completionist who must have every episode, every issue, every track.
Using Jim's stacks and drives -- which contain 2,500 GB of data -- aliens could recreate a low-res version of human civilization from 1990 to the present day.
Dr. Renae Reinardy is a psychologist who specializes in obsessive-compulsive disorders. Last year, she presented a paper on infohoarding to the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, or OCF. More and more, she meets people whose "computers are full" not only of digital music and movies, but e-mail, bookmarks and documents.Hey, that's me!
The web is awash with self-declared "digital packrats" who swap horror stories about hard drives bursting with unneeded MP3s and JPEGs. Like font collectors in the late '90s, these digital junkaholics swap suspiciously boastful confessionals: "You think that's bad? You should see my porn collection." And so on.
Infohoarders are doing more than just amassing files. Like their physical counterparts whose lives eventually become unbearably cluttered -- such as New York's Collyer brothers, who died under piles of collected rubbish in 1947 -- they're sliding down a dangerously slippery slope. Reinardy admitted that most of her hoarders "are very high-functioning people (who) just got caught in this behavior."
"It starts with good intentions. 'I'm going to get all of these movies while I can.' But then what happens? It becomes such a huge selection that if you want a particular movie, you have to look through thousands and thousands of others to find it," Reinardy said.
In practical terms, the collection becomes useless.Oh.
...But there are warning signs. According to Reinardy, infohoarders avoid making decisions because they need to get all the right information before acting..."Scarily accurate, that.