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Vice on Jason Scott and Retro Computers

Updated 13 October 2019


This 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.

Archiving our digital history

There are quick flashes across CDs. I wonder if any of those are from the 260+ different types 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.

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.

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

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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.

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