Kondo Your Data

01 Dec 2019

I once wrote that "Unpacking after moving house forces you to have contact with every single item you own, considering each one, one at a time."

The same effect applies digitally. I'm in the process of migrating from Adobe New Lightroom CC to Google Photos. For complicated reasons1, this means that I have to revisit each of more than 2500 raw photos.

I thought this was going to be a chore, pure admin work, necessary but mechanical and unfulfilling.

I've been considering each photo one at a time, culling and adjusting. It's hard technical - and emotional - work.

In practice, though, it's not been like deleting photos. It's been like finding them. It surprised and alarmed me that many of these images I haven't seen since I took them.

The realisation for me was that you don't Kondo your physical things just because you don't have room to store them. You do it to improve the signal-to-noise ratio - and that the same effect applies digitally, where the storage is unlimited. Too many photos is the same as having none at all.

Rather than as a chore, I'm now starting to see this kind of data migration as a necessary part of maintaining an asset that has any value at all.


  1. Google Photos can't import "RAW with Settings". So I have to either export RAWs, losing my adjustments, or export JPGs, losing the RAWs. I've chosen the latter, because to me a RAW is just deferred adjustment work anyway, and I should either 1) do it, or 2) admit I'm not going to do it, and either way I only need the JPG.