Here is every piece of paper given to or generated by my wife over the course of five years in pursuit of her medical degree. Our apartment is packed as tightly as an ocean-going sloop and with a baby on the way every bit of room counts. Thus, the decision to compress the written texts down into something a bit more digital.
It took six loads in a Home Depot 5 gallon bucket to get it all down to the bin.
Strikingly, it only filled a standard recycle bin about half-full.
The act of scanning, OCRing, tagging, PDF-ing and organizing all of the information presented here took the better part of two months' worth of evenings and weekends and generated 3.21 GB worth of searchable medical knowledge. So it's not like the information is gone. In fact, in many ways it's a hell of a lot more accessible; she can now spelunk into that database by keyword and find every example where her lectures touched on any given subject.
Nonetheless, kind of a striking display.
I have all of my family's photo albums. It took about three weeks to get two books of slides through the scanner; my mother used PVC slide holders which, of course, leached elasticizer all over the slides, each of which needed intensive treatment with PEC-12 and the Mother Of All Dusters. They're all up on Flickr now, easily searchable by everyone in my family. I sent an email to my mother. She never even clicked on the link. But when I gave her back the slide album she hadn't looked through in 30 years she could barely contain her joy.
The power of physical objects in a nutshell.