Oh yeah. Tell me about your terabytes, baby.

July 2, 2009

According to NaBloPoMo, it is National Blog posting Month, a “fitting occasion for posting regularly to your blog on the topics that interest you.” Since I am an irritable tech curmudgeon , I will take this moment to share what an irritatingly obnoxious idea it is to encourage people with the overdeveloped sense of self importance to post every day for a month, particularly when there are organizations working very hard to archive all this crap that we’re spewing into the collective eConsciousness.

The camera which recorded the plenary session on archival. I took a picture of it in an existential moment.

The camera which recorded the plenary session on data storage. I took a picture of it in an existential moment.

A few months back I attended the Sixth Media in Transition Conference at MIT where the plenary session “Institutional Perspectives on Storage” primarily consisted of the panelists, archivists from various European organizations, getting off on how much storage space they had to offer. My favorite contribution came from Richard Wright, an archivist from the BBC who not only pointed out that they had the least amount of space to offer because they only archived items of value, but also shared that as the amount of space we have for storage has increased exponentially, the durability and reliability of the medium decreased exponentially. This is why we have stone tablets with three digits on them that are thousands of years old, but have to buy a new flash drive every other month or so.

I also admired Wright because he was brazen enough to not only illustrate a file corruption example using an image of Steamboat Willie, but also add the caption “Used Without Permission.” Wright has certainly got some balls bollocks going up against Disney, but perhaps the BBC is full of hardcore badasses cheeky bastards, and the archivists are the cheekiest. I don’t know what I’m talking about. Lets move on.

The issue of archival stayed with us well into the session on information sharing. In response to a fascinating presentation by Alison Byerly entitled What Not to Save: The Future of Ephemera, I formulated what some tweeters would call the “Scrooge McDuck Theory of History.” This was partly a mistake, since I only likened obsession with saving ridiculous amounts of useless data to Scrooge McDuck swimming in a pool of more money than he could ever spend. My real point was the fact regardless of the effort we put into archiving damn near everything, historians 10,100, and 1000 years down the road will be obsessed with whatever we don’t save anyways.

So yes, I refuse to support this silly cause, and it is only by mere coincidence that I have now posted every day in July. All two of them.

What’s the point? We all gonna die anyways.


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