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Vice on Jason Scott and Retro Computers

Updated 12 March 2023

This video extract comes from an episode in 2017 and is hosted on the Internet Archive. This is an interesting perusal through a mass on old electronics and computers, rekindling memories and thoughts on why we should continue archiving our digital ancestry. This particular clip is only 3:34 minutes long so it doesn't cover a lot of detail. Our favourite part is to pick out the retro microcomputers from all the junk lying about. We have to wonder if there are any hidden bits of retrogaming about, like an early Sega Saturn system.

Concerns about the Digital Dark Age

My concerns about the living in the digital dark age and the loss of culture and heritage are certainly valid. As more and more of our lives become digitized, we run the risk of losing access to important historical and cultural artifacts if we don't take steps to preserve them.

One of the challenges we face is that digital formats are notoriously fragile, and many older formats and technologies are already becoming obsolete. This means that if we don't act quickly to preserve these artifacts, we could lose them forever.

As individuals, we can also do our part to help preserve our cultural heritage. One simple step is to back up important digital files and documents, and to store them in multiple locations. This can help ensure that if one copy is lost or damaged, there are still other copies that can be accessed.

Ultimately, it will take a concerted effort on the part of individuals, organizations, and governments to preserve our cultural heritage in the digital age. However, by working together, we can help ensure that future generations have access to the same rich cultural and historical artifacts that we have today.

Introduction to Personal Archiving

It's great to see that there are people like Jason Scott who are dedicated to preserving our digital history, particularly when it comes to retro computers and gaming systems. As the world becomes increasingly digital, there is a real danger that we could lose access to valuable pieces of our cultural heritage.

The idea of a digital dark age is a real concern, as many older technologies and formats become obsolete and are no longer supported by modern hardware and software. Without efforts to preserve and archive these systems, we risk losing access to important pieces of our history and culture.

One of the interesting aspects of the video extract is the nostalgia it evokes, particularly for those who grew up during the heyday of retro computing and gaming. It's always fun to spot old systems and games that you remember playing as a kid, and to reflect on how far technology has come since then.

Let's continue efforts to preserve our digital history, particularly when it comes to retro computing and gaming. These systems played an important role in the development of modern technology, and they continue to be an important part of our cultural heritage. By preserving and archiving these systems, we can ensure that they are accessible to future generations, and that they continue to inspire and inform our understanding of technology and culture.

We said, let's get all of culture online. Won't that be great. Aaand, unfortunately if anybody turns the switch, it's just gone. Zero. Blacked out.

Archiving our digital history

There are quick flashes across CDs. I wonder if any of those are from the 440+ versions of AOL CD-ROMs from the Internet Archive collection. A quick cut to a close up of a remote control sitting in a toy powerboat. Heaven only knows what toy powerboats have to do with digital or cultural archiving. Then there is the emotional drawcard. "These are where you find the stories that we've lost. Becuase they've been discarded by others without any idea of their value." Does this sound like the ideals of a digital horder? Digital Hoarding ... un, we prefer to call the endless saving of digital content as Personal Digital Archiving.

The loss of digital content is a serious thing. So much data and content is being created every year, that it drowns out all the content has been made from the year before. New content is great and Google prioritorises newer content over old content. Google places a greater emphasis on the importance of recentness of content, particularly with news. This leads to the unintended consequence of website authors creating more content to destroy and obfuscate old content. There was nothing wrong with the old content. Old content is just old news with old websites being blown away in the digital dust. Are we possibly living in the Digital Dark Ages.

Another cut and a close up of two boxes of software. Your Reading Power and Hooked on Phonics. Pow. I wonder if there was any level of irony when video media starts talking about the loss of printed media. Next stop, the long look at the 1990's collection of stereo equipment. No, it is probably from the 2000's. Is this the back of a lifeline store? Surely this isn't somebody's personal collection? Then there is another close up of Entrepreneurs' Guide to Labor & Property Law; Another box of goodies not available on the Archive.

One of the challenges we face is that digital formats are notoriously fragile, and many older formats and technologies are already becoming obsolete. This means that if we don't act quickly to preserve these artifacts, we could lose them forever.

What percentage of the internet has vanished? Now that is asking the witness. Oh, the vast majority. Maybe that is true by some measurement but so much digital junk is being created at this very moment that it's size is overloading the Internet from just ten years ago. Absolutely staggering. And herein lies the puncher, most websites don't get the rescue. I don't know what the rescue is but it sure sounds very important.

Analyzing the now, what are people years from now going to look back and think of the first decades of the Internet? Jason's flirty response, Um, they are going to think that we had no taste in color.

I definitely think that people should save their own digital footprints. ... Mail it to your most technologically un-advanced relative and say that this really matters a lot to me. And this will hold it for quite some time.

Another tantilizing show of audio equipment and book covers. Let me check, Unlock the secrets of your mind is not in the Internet Library either. So many lost treasures. But Jason's rule is, if it's on plastic then we'll save a copy of it.

Watch Jason talk about digital archiving

Note that the video publisher has not endorsed this article. The video is served directly by archive.org from this webpage. Please read archive.org's privacy and copyright policy. The opinions expressed may not reflect the opinion of this site.

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Supporting your digital hoarding

Massive storage capacity can be purchased at a price range to suit most hobbyists. A good entry level option is buying a reliable 5TB USB drive that fits in (a rather large) pocket. This storage capacity should tame your digital hoarding urge. See that interesting website, leech it. Archive your twitter feed - smashed. Save more video than you can watch on YouTube. Loving it.

On a side note, there is a public domain program to help you watch youtube videos offline called youtube-dl. It is a command line program so that it both a plus, think scripting, and a negative, yes you will have to use your keyboard. It is easy to use and works a treat.

The conversation in our office has focused on digital hoarding and if this is a serious addition? We don't know but we love to hoard. Saving every email. Saving every photo, no matter how blurry. Imagine if we lost something and it was got forever. Wiping the sweat off our brow, we are left to wonder. Bytes, kilobytes, megabytes and now gigabytes for files. Keep on saving. We don't know when we will have time to catch up on it all. But if we don't save it then it will be lost. Forever. Please save.

While it is important to preserve our digital heritage and save important files and documents, it is also important to strike a balance between saving what is truly important and hoarding unnecessary amounts of data.

Hoarding can become a serious issue when it begins to interfere with daily life or take up excessive amounts of space. It can also make it more difficult to find and access important files when they are buried under piles of unnecessary data.

One way to avoid excessive hoarding is to regularly review and delete files that are no longer needed or relevant. This can free up space and make it easier to find and access important files.

Additionally, it is important to have a backup strategy in place to protect important files in case of data loss or corruption. This can involve storing files in multiple locations or using cloud storage services.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide how much data to save and how to manage their digital hoarding tendencies. However, it is important to remember that while digital storage capacity may be massive, our time and attention are not, and we should use them wisely.

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