I've been struggling to get my computer back up to speed for awhile now. Though successfully using a Linux drive to get online, I haven't been able to get my own system to work decently without a lot of annoying pop ups, messages and warnings. I've gone the usual route with this--taking it in to be repaired, finding that the repair didn't really solve anything, and so trying to decide what to do next. Lately, though, I haven't even been able to get in to anything. So last night, I just went for broke and reinstalled the hard drive.
This meant that a lot was lost.
I retrieved and backed up a lot of my documents,and since most of it was backed up anyway, I'll probably have some version of most of it somewhere. I'm a little sad to realize that most of my downloaded email is gone, but the fact is, all this has happened before.
So the relation to this blog is? Well, I'm kind of struck by the difference between how we, or at least many of us, save paper documents, and the way we save electronic ones. I suppose it will reveal me as very old school to say that I don't ever really throw away letters, but I have witnessed two wholesale clearances of computer memory with sadness, yes, but basically with a shrug. Yet I still have all those old faded letters.
It's interesting to me how we have consigned some of our essential recordkeeping, which is in essence a memory sort of job, to an unstable constantly self-revising electronic system. There is already much that I saved, ie, remembered, to technology that no longer works on my system. It doesn't mean I can never get at it--it's just that I can't do that easily.
I'm on the brink of doing a month long writing challenge through Nanowrimo.org. The founder of this venture, Chris Baty, just had his hard drive inexplicably die mere days before the big event, leading him to remind participants to back up their data and not rely on luck or chance to do so.
I'll close with two observations. One is that electronic "memory" tends to be very black and white. It either works or it doesn't. You can't "remember" lost data by trying harder to remember it. Basically, you only have the option of trying the equivalent of expensive brain surgery to retrieve it. And like brain surgery, the result isn't guaranteed.
The second is more related to memory--our memory--itself. I'd love if anyone cared to comment on a different take on this, but for me, when it comes to informational data, nostalgia is overrated. I hold on to a lot of this stuff, don't get around to deleting a whole lot of email, except for the obvious junk. But if the fates decide to take it away from me, after a bit of regret, I find I don't miss it all that much. From this I conclude that online data is different because it is just digital. Souvenirs of the past may need to be just a bit more material to be missed much.
Or so say I.
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