Raveen Kumar

How I use append-only log to store information

I have always been erratic in my organizational skills. I sometimes organize well, but sometimes I just waste time moving things around without getting anything done. But one thing that always worked was storing the digital information in append-only format. Basically, saving things as it arrives and not organizing at all. Which means that they are organized by time and date and not by categories.

Here my append only log is "E-mail". I was unable to find any other useful program apart from email for this purpose.

Choose any email client you like and basically dump all your PDFs, notes, digitized papers, files into it as it arrives from various sources. Just write a meaningful subject that you can search for later. You can use labels or folders to organize, but mostly just send it to an email address of your choice and archive it. Usually, you will not even read it again after you have saved it.

The E-mail format itself is well understood and has many features. The max attachment size of most service providers is around 20 MB. It's more than enough. Try to use plain text for just taking short notes and messages to yourself. If you want to dump more than 20mb of files, just archive it or split into many emails or upload it to cloud storage and copy and paste the link to email.

When you need the information. It's there. Always.

No more fiddling with the file managers, renaming. It is saved as it is.

Even if you would like to edit, you can just forward the message again to yourself with the edit and delete the original one.

You can also use it to schedule mails and track future tasks, TV shows, anime, movies or Reminder to yourself in the future. If you are working on a piece of text for a long time, you can just keep it as a draft and keep working. It will be auto-saved.

I am a fan of the bullet journal method. Handwritten text is immutable. The same goes for emails. Once you send it, it becomes immutable.

I don't know if other use emails to store all their digital content in emails like me. But it's a pretty neat trick.

"The only problem that I have faced is when I want to make bulk edits of the subject alone without changing the body. So that it looks easy on the eyes when I review my digital dump. And also to fix spelling mistakes." (This is my ADHD brain talking. This is precisely why I like this append-only approach.)

It is also good to review your data occasionally and delete unnecessary stuff, but mostly they are harmless.

I have not found any append-only log that is as versatile as emails, apart from handwritten journals.

As your digital dump grows with time and content, the older content will have more value. Just like our memory, our first memory is more valuable than our last.

Speaking of my first memory, "It was falling down the stairs and breaking my jaw and getting stitches as a child."

Append-only logs are important. It is the only information what is guaranteed to be truthful and secure; always. We need more append only programs, but email is the only good one we have so far, and that's why it is still around. Text message is also good, but it's very limited.

Some append-only programs that I know of,

Other append-only Applications in Real Life

closed source, which means that the transactions can be edited. That's what the open-source community is trying to solve with blockchain technology.)


I wrote this post as an email draft.

#posts #productivity