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The Digital Space

I barely remember the days in which people would go on vacation, take some photos, then get home and go to get them developed. A bit more recently, the days of CD’s, newspapers and magazines seem numbered. For me, certainly they’re long gone. Just pop in the old USB cord and there are my photos, open my browser and there’s my news and information. The more time that passes, the fewer tangibles there seem to be. Books, photos, movies, music, boarding passes, shopping, and the list goes on. They all exist in the digital realm.

It seems great. In the case of media, it’s quicker, more convenient and you have more control. Your computer, tablet or phone is all you need to edit your photos, store them and organize them. The same goes for your books, music and videos. It’s all easy, instead of taking one great photo, I’ll just make sure the subject is in the frame and take four or five pics. Two are usually blurry, one’s badly lit and the others are decent. But who cares, they’re digital, I’ll throw them on the computer and sort it out later.

Except, later never comes, but with seemingly unlimited space, again, who cares. The same goes for music, I’ll download every album, mixtape and EP that I can get my hands on. I’ll listen to it at some point, I’m sure. Movies and books too, it’s not taking up any physical space, just digital.

Eventually, bogged down with files, my computer started moving a little less spritely.

Instead of admitting that I have too much digital crap, I invested. I invested in hard drives, jump drives, compact flash cards, mini SD cards, cloud storage. It was obvious to me that I need all this stuff. I might be in the mood to listen to that mixtape I downloaded two years ago by what’s his name. I also plan to go through all those pictures I took at one of our many, many trips to the park, just to make sure I don’t delete a good one.

What I was paying for was my own laziness and disorganization as well as my digital hoarding habit. I was paying for online picture storage, online music storage and I had bought 3 hard drives and more, just to handle the load. I was paying for intangible storage for intangible goods. More than that, whenever I wanted to listen to music, I found I couldn’t decide what to listen to because I had too big of a selection, filled mostly with badly organized, very average music. There were also books and movies I started and moved on from, a true digital nightmare.

I’m currently midway through my digital purge. I’m paring down my photos, keeping the ones from important days that I want to remember and deleting the rest. I’m getting my music down to the classics: Illmatic, The Score, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Reasonable Doubt, Good Kid, M.a.a.d City, anything by Bob and things on that level. The stuff I always end up listening to anyway. I’m being more thoughtful and intentional in my digital acquisitions.

The result: I have less stuff, and less is more. I have a digital space that is larger and of better quality and more money in the old pants pockets. Everything’s all in one place, no more searching for things on different hard drives, cards and clouds. Less hassle and more time. It’s really quite freeing.

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I turned 30 on the 1st January 2015. It’s a well used cliché, but time really does fly and sometimes we are so focused on moving forward to the next thing that we forget about what it took to get us here. Before I ever earned a single pound/dollar playing football/soccer, I had already put in over 10 years of work disguised as fun.

In England there is really only football, everything else is a distant second. Almost everyone wanted to be a footballer when they grew up. Those were the days, the muddy football pitches with around 20 blades of grass total, with badly drawn lines and the worst referees known to mankind. I would get changed in the back of my parents car, the kit I was given came in two sizes XS or XXL, and usually we won or lost by a huge margin. There were no real tactics, we just played. No matter what the weather we were out there, but it never felt like work.

I was obsessed with the game growing up. I used to know every player on every Premier League team, and most on the major teams in other major European leagues. I collected stickers, cards, kits, whatever I could lay my hands on. I played at school and after school, with others and alone, organized and unorganized.

Sometimes these days, it does feel like work. There’s the pressure of providing for your family, the daily grind and the travel across the US, which removes me from the family. It loses that magic it used to have for me, by being my profession. I make a new set of friends every year, but I also lose a set. It’s also physically demanding and mentally draining.

But just when you feel like you’ve reached your limit, the season is over. Finally a break from it all. Put the cleats away and let yourself heal. The first week is amazing, revelling in the freedom of your every day. A couple of weeks later you are searching for things to fill your time. There are only so many times you can play Candyland with your kids, as they cheat their way to a victory or weep themselves silly over a sibling’s triumph.

After a month you feel the itch for a ball at your feet. Playing with Wubbers in the confines of the home just isn’t cutting it, plus your wife gives you the evil eye when you hit a 10 yard screamer, which whizzes right past her face while she’s drinking her pumpkin spice whatever. Finally, you have to get out there, wherever that is, you need some space to knock a ball around and man does it feel good. The weight of the ball at your feet, the view of its arc as you smash a long ball, the desperation on the face of a nutmegged opponent.

There really is nothing like it in my opinion, I don’t think I could ever completely stop playing. Even when I’m 75 you’ll probably catch me knocking the ball in some seniors league, legs permitting. It’s something I was raised on and I owe the opportunity I have now to my parents, who supported and continue to support me at every turn, and to that kid who started playing in school and never really stopped.

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Black Mirror

If you’re fan of technology and TV shows, which I presume almost everyone is, Black Mirror could be the show for you. I’ve just finished season 1 which is only 3 episodes, but it was so good I felt it worthy of a blog post.

The show is largely focused on the future of technology and how it will impact our lives. It’s pretty dark and almost serves as a warning – be careful what you wish for – in terms of the advancement of computers and communications. From what I’ve seen so far there is little positivity to be grasped.
Still, it’s amazing to see what the future could look like and see the application of some of the technology.

The show was originally aired on Channel 4 in the UK and has found it’s way on to Netflix. The episodes are self-contained and unique in terms of cast and concept. So, if you have a Netflix and an hour to kill, give it a watch.