Friday, May 13, 2011

What I Learned From the Bloggeroplyse

When I first started this blog, over two years ago, while I was still thrashing about, figuring out what it was I wanted to talk about (turns out, it's whatever I want... but I didn't know that then), I wrote a bit about my fear that computers were going to take over, terminator/matrix style.

Now, I was pretty tongue in cheek about most everything I wrote, but in case folks didn't know already, Blogger  went down for 18 hours or so, and as of this writing, several comments that were made on my last post remain missing. This event of course started me thinking about my fears again.

In the past few years, an increasing number of things that I used to have firmly planted in my possession are now housed in some server out there in cyberland. My books are increasingly read on an e-reader, I haven't bought music in a physical format in years, I've slowed my dvd/blue ray purchases as I've got more and more enamored with streaming services like Netflix. Those physical photos I used to treasure so much  are now in places like facebook.

My fear? That one day I'll wake up and it's all gone. Poof. Photos, music, movies, books, hell, even money... all gone, like they never existed. I don't mean my accounts are wiped out, although that thought worries me too. But I mean all of it.

Things like bit rot are a real problem. Data storage isn't permanent, software isn't perfect. In a thousand years, archaeologists won't dig up our discarded hard drives and find all our family photos and emails perfectly stored and waiting for someone to boot it up. That stuff will gone like in never existed. Entropy always wins in the end.

So, the ease of living in the cloud is nice, and I'll forget about my panic the longer that things continue without a further issues. But it's something that will happen at some point. Count on it.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I see the same trend in my own life. Except the money - I still don't trust online banking or finances.
I wonder if our generation will be like the missing link. They'll find records, a few cassettes, a couple CDs, and then... Nothing.

Trisha said...

I still buy CDs, I love the artwork that comes with them and just love seeing them in my living room in my CD towers. I still buy physical books too. You're totally right about photographs though. And I just realised I only really have my music recordings on my computer/the internet.

Rogue Mutt said...

Yeah digital media is pretty impermanent. If you want something to last, carve it on a stone tablet or something.

Andrew Leon said...

Yeah... although I've been telling myself since I started my blog that I should write them in Word and transfer them over, I learned my lesson yesterday. Most everyone else's posts have been returned to them, but my post from yesterday has not shown back up. As it was the first in a series, I am now obliged to re-write it. I hate re-writing!
I'm slower to digital conversion than a lot of other people. I like to own what I own, not trust that someone else is keeping it safe for me.

A Beer for the Shower said...

That's a very scary thought. All of my music, all of my movies, and most importantly, all of my novels are just files on a computer. Backed up? Of course. But in theory, they don't even exist, and if they all went down, I'd be royally f-ed.

Rusty Webb said...

Alex - you aren't alone wondering what future generations will find of us once we're all gone. Thank god we have Styrofoam. That stuff ain't going nowhere.

Trisha - Well, I don't buy CD's anymore. Truth be told though, I don't really listen to music either, at least not much. That time is taken up with listening to podcasts, or novels.

Even the art that used to grace album covers changed pretty radically when the move to CD's happened. The canvas just go so much smaller.

Rogue - True enough. Paper won't last that much longer than a few centuries, it isn't like that would be here forever either. Still, you can see the degradation of paper over time, it isn't like you'll wake up one day and all the paper in the world disappeared.

Andrew - I said the same thing when I started this blog too, but it seems like I get formatting issues when I bring it over from Word, so I pretty much gave up on doing that. Whatever though, it isn't like the world will lament the loss of a few of my posts.

Beer - Me too, I won't do anything about it, but I will worry.