Yet another storage medium, which was announced as the saviour of the Computer world when it came onto the scene in 1971, has been found wanting in the capacity department by the ever increasing Pac-Man like storage requirements of current computer software and files.
Like most things in life, it shrank in size as it got older, starting at a very healthy 8”, reducing firstly to 5¼”, and finally in its middle age and wizened dotage, it shrivelled to 3½”. And still it couldn’t keep its customers happy, even though it got less floppy as time went on! At 1.44 Megabytes, each one could hold the very top left hand corner of one of the photographs I take. Depending on whether you’ve seen any of my pictures will determine whether you think that is a good or a bad attribute!
A couple of computer magazines I’ve just read, have reacted to this demise, and launched into something approaching a eulogy about the things. “Life will not be the same after it’s gone.” “Our lives are changed for ever …..” and so on. They then go on about how with the lifetime of storage media systems reducing continuously, we are in grave danger of being the first generation where almost nothing is left for our successors to remember us by, not because we haven’t saved it, but because there will not be any machines around in the future which can read them.
The message they are trying to evangelise is – Back up everything continuously, Copy it all, Duplicate, Store a full copy on a remote island in the event of a nuclear strike or an Npower surge, keep copying all the old stuff onto the latest, new fangled storage system as soon as you can – otherwise you face memory oblivion, and presumably cease to exist.
Well, I can understand that for the business community, for a Government department, and especially for the maintenance department of the airline I’m planning to fly on next. But I wonder if the same zeal needs to be thrown at all us recreational users.
If I look back into my own personal past, my mother remarried when I was around 10, and when my Step Father and Grandmother, who were both major parts of my life, died, I ended up being custodian of their possessions. My father was a very keen photographer, even in the 1950s, and he left a massive heap of slides. I kept these for many years, and recently decided to have a good look through them.
So the pictures I have retained are a very small selection of the original collection, and as I move onto the Great Archive in the Sky, the number which will have any meaning to my children and my children’s children will reduce to almost nothing. It’s a bit like the cracked Sepia photo-fade of the vibrant, colourful gang of human beings at the end of “Butch Cassidy”. You suddenly realise that the images or the amounts of data that lives on after we’ve gone is far less than the glorious melange that we all surround ourselves with while we’re alive.
JUST A THOUGHT! - SALVADOR DALI
Look around your own house, and compare the number of personal images you actually have on show, to the number you’ve got saved somewhere. It will be in the ratio of Hundreds if not Thousands to One. That gives you a first pass at which ones really are important to you. So what I’m thinking is that we must, absolutely, save these special ones, and you usually find that they are saved in Hard Copy form, be it a photograph, or a painting. These are the ones which will, to a greater degree stand the test of time, and also not need the fancy “temporary” gadget in the future to read them.
I’ve not used a Floppy drive for years, I’ve got a pile of old videos, of which I REALLY only want to keep a few - So that’s what I’ll end up doing, when I can get Chris, my friendly IT Guru to teach me how to do it. I never even had an 8 Track cartridge system – they were SO “Get your trousers on, You’re nicked!” And I resisted buying a CD player for too long, because I thought I’d end up having to spend a fortune replacing my 200 LPs. Of course, when I got there, the number I actually duplicated was dramatically lower. All are indications of the same thread - we all keep too much Stuff around us.
So the real issue here is, look critically at the items of computer data where it really would be a heartbreaker if they disappeared, and make sure these are copied in many forms. And I suspect we will find that the best form is a hard Copy image, which will last for lifetimes, and, as a bonus, will also give you pleasure while you are still around to look at them.
Less is More.co.uk