Sunday, November 2, 2014


    Keeping track of one's digital history is becoming distinctly non-trivial (in programmer terms, this means a challenge that you're not going to do in a day, or a week, and may not actually be a solvable problem).

    I've got a PC with a selection of very large drives in, each containing backups of archives of backups of previous drives going back to the last century in some cases. I've made various attempts over the years to clear this up (or down, whatever you prefer) but there's still many gigabytes of files that may or may not be interesting to me in the future.

    I've also got a whole host of other devices (Amigas, phones, tablets, laptops) that may or may not have content I'm interested in. In 2014, one can comfortably expect this to be video and photos, but historically I've also created text files, music, programs, models - in fact, while the quality may be terrible I've made most types of media at some point.

    What should I keep? What should I throw away? More importantly, how does one find the time to examine and categorise one's digital history?

    When I get (even) older, will I regret pruning and purging content I've created? What kind of emotional response will those WoW screenshots I just deleted have evoked?

    I took a look at some screenshots from my Lady Aerlinthe quest, one of my first (and at the time, pivotal) MMO experiences. I can barely remember the event while looking at the pictures, it doesn't really mesh with my brain-stored memories. I always find this surprising, for some reason.

    When I'm 64 and I've accrued another couple of terabytes of history - will I ever go back and look at it? Will anyone else?

    I have very vague memories of, as a child, watching my father work a slide projector, showing off his holiday travel photos that he'd had processed into little boxes of slides - a box as long as your arm and as wide as your hand could hold nearly 100 pictures. Now I have a box under my stairs that's smaller which holds nearly every important picture or video I've taken in the last decade, and we're talking about tens of thousands of images and thousands of videos. I can just imagine the looks on my boy's faces were I to sit them down and begin and the beginning!

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