When I was a boy (60+ years ago), many families saved old issues of periodicals. I had Boys Life (a scouting magazine) and National Geographic. My uncle had 40 or 50 years of the Journal of Economic Entomology. My mom's dad had years and years of back issues of Life, Look, and Colliers. As I grew older, I subscribed to different publications. I had back issues of Scientific American from 1959 through 1979, when I finally gave up because I had moved on to several dozen trade journals. Along about 1992, or so, when ASQ changed from ASQC, I started also collecting Quality Progress.
By 2005, I had an epiphany and finally realized I hadn't looked at a back issue of anything in the hundreds, even thousands of magazines I had stored chronologically by title on floor-to-ceiling steel shelving in my garage.
At first, I started going through them one-by-one to see if there were some "gems" I absolutely had to save. After the first thousand, I just started baling them for the paper recycler in the next town and would drop off a van load every week or so until they were all gone.
Next, I have to find a home for my (and my wife's) library of 10,000 or so books which fill shelves in three rooms.
The library is eclectic and contains classics, science fiction, hard science, sociology, politics, and at least 3 sets of encyclopedias, The O.E.D., and dozens of various reference books.
Obviously, almost everything has become redundant in the Age of the Internet.
I still prefer to read a newspaper printed on paper and so we subscribe to four - Chicago Tribune, New York Times, a local suburban daily and a local suburban weekly. I note, however, that my younger neighbors (20's, 30's, and 40's) do not get newspapers in their driveways and probably get their news [if any] from TV, radio, or internet. I still get over a dozen trade and scholarly journals in print format a month. We also subscribe to Newsweek and Forbes in print format. BUT, once read (or skimmed in the case of trade journals), they are all put in the recycle bin within a week of their arrival.
Computers are a big part of our life, too. Between my wife and me, we have 6 active computers on line in our house (plus another 1/2 dozen (semi-obsolete) ones we keep around for one reason or another (how many of you still have computers that read and write 3-1/2 inch floppies? I've got three!)
Gradually, I am converting the thousands and thousands of files I have stored on floppies and CDs into much more compact storage. Then those antique storage devices will also be shredded and recycled.
The biggest fly in the ointment, of course, is that most of the stuff in those files is just as pertinent today as the 12 issues of National
Geographic from 1957 that I threw out 25 years ago!
Do as I say, not as I do -
"Throw all the old stuff out!"
Embarrassingly, I once had a lecture series on organizing work spaces and creating retention policies - My big acronym was
S P A C E
ssign (a place to put what you keep)
ontainerize (to protect and preserve - file folders, boxes, different media [digital versus analog])
valuate (is the system working? If so, continue to repeat.)
The problem for most folks (especially me) is they can do this fine in a one time blitz, but maintaining a steady program of sort, purge, etc. is just not sustainable and they soon fall back into their old habits of hoarding "stuff" with no relevance and have such a mess they are unable to retrieve anything which might have been meaningful. Yep, the toughest part is "repeat!" It certainly is for me.