Thursday, August 17, 2006

Handwritten Slides, Course Notes and Hard Copies of Old Papers

Anna and I had to make some drastic decisions when packing our things in Aalborg. Some of these decisions involved the material stored in the boxes stored in the university cellar that housed the contents of our offices there. We had between 15 and 20 boxes full of books, handwritten slides for talks and courses, hard copies of technical reports and papers, photocopies of (parts of) books and reprints of our papers.

Not having time to sort things, we eventually threw everything away, apart from a few books that we really cared about.

Was that a good decision to take? Well, for a start, we had been packing our things in the house for about a week, and we were sick and tired of it. Disposing of the reprints of our papers was not a painful decision at all since most of the papers are available electronically. However, when we told Kim G. Larsen that we had got rid of our handwritten slides, notes and course folders he immediately said: "That was a stupid thing to do! I still use some of my old handwritten slides for courses and summer schools."

Looking back, it is true that we lost a part of our working life by disposing of those boxes. Some of those notes reported on work that was "in progress", and I feel that I'll never be able to reproduce them. (The person who wrote those notes is not here anymore, and will never come back.) Does this matter? The sad truth is that it probably does not. That work would have never been finished anyway, and, even if it did, it would not have been "important enough".

Would you have made the same choice as we in our situation? Think about it before your next move.

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