DC Little Elephant_MPHIX
Newsprint media in the shape of a bee made soggy from the rain. Washington DC, July 2016, Fujifilm X100T.

What if a civilisation existed prior to us, and they were as technologically advanced as we are now?
What if they too had moved away from retaining hard copies of information in favour of electronic databases, and that the reason there is no trace of them, is because all of their documented knowledge disappeared into extinction along with them?

As far as I’m concerned anything is possible, and if my and other channelled sources are to be believed, then it is, and such civilisations and realities have existed before, DO exist still in other probably realities. This however, is not what I’m putting into question.

My concern is that we, the members of the current civilisation will ultimately meet the same fate, in that all our beloved knowledge made digital will one day cease to be.
With technology changing rapidly and constantly, unless we continually upgrade and back up copy after copy of our now digital material, it is in grave danger of becoming obsolete. How many of us have the time, resources or funding to print out all of our written works, or photographic images in order that we maintain hard copies of our achievements, those of us who write and take pictures, that is?
With physical books, magazines and periodicals becoming steadily obsolete in favour of e-print materials, and digital imagery replacing the need for physical prints, this reality is steadily but surely taking a firm hold.

I used to write everything longhand, because the idea of having a tangible copy of my work that would occupy a simple, physical space of its own independent of me, yet still accessible by others was greatly appealing. The same was true with my photographs. With the writing at least I stopped recording things longhand a short time ago in favour of the convenience of only having to write things up once in a digital format. I suppose it changed when I began blogging regularly. In effect it made me lazy. I’m still going through the slow process of backing up my posts from the past few years from two of my blogs as many of them were written in-situ on the WordPress editor. To then print everything will be a task and a half, but perhaps one I should invest in given the climate of change and unpredictability that digital media presents us with; and while my printer is still compatible with my Mac!
With my photographic images I have an altogether different challenge. I fear that many of my images will one day be entirely lost. Printing images, even if you do it yourself is a very costly and time consuming affair. At the last count I have well in excess of 20,000 images stored on my computer, with that number ever growing every time I take my cameras out on shoots. I don’t have the luxury of having an agent who curates and publishes my work (yet), and keeps the format of my images current. I, and all of my years of creative work will cease to exist once I’m gone. There is no-one currently in my family who is in the slightest bit interested in keeping my legacy going, except for my husband perhaps, but that’s assuming he survives me.

Perhaps I’m looking at this in a far too materialistic, and thus currently humanistic way. Perhaps the physical result of my work is not what matters at all, but the process of having created it. But that’s a big leap of faith at any measure. The few material things I have left that have been collected over the course of my lifetime mean a heck of a lot to me, after all I occupy a physically tangible existence, and it’s the physical things that give my life substance and meaning, even if any memory of me is purely notional. Things my children have made for me, poems and stories I’ve written. Souvenirs from places I’ve travelled; and a wealth of learning from books I have acquired, that still line my shelves decades later. All of these things define me in some way.
I remember losing hundreds of photos of my daughter as a baby to a computer virus when she was just three years old. I was devastated, as they were unrecoverable. My only record that I’d ever taken pictures of her during the first three years of her life are the few images that I had printed to give to family, my copies are the duds, so to speak, but they are scant.

I suppose what is true of history however, is that the only people that are remembered are the ones who attain some kind of public notoriety, and although some of us try really hard to make that happen, it isn’t an easy thing to do. Especially these days when there is a seeming over saturation of folk wanting to be noticed and become famous for something. Kind of waters down the pool of exclusivity that artistic pursuits require in order to maintain a qualitative standard.

People come and go as entire civilisations come and go, so I suppose my desire for my own legacy to succeed is a purely self-indulgent one, especially as few people express an interest in the work I do. My children might just care one day, but right now they are still young and ensconced in the moment, creating their own legacies. Maybe it just doesn’t matter as much as I would like it to. And maybe I just have to be ok with that.

How do you feel about it?




Author’s Note:

Everything I write on this blog is a work of fiction and published solely for the purposes of entertainment. Although it may be valid information and therefore of value to those for whom it resonates, any truth involved is both subjective on my part and subject to the opinions and beliefs of the reader, which may or may not be concurrent with my own. I refuse therefore, to be accountable for any negative opinions that my work here may unduly inspire in others. My intention will and has always been to encourage beneficial self-exploration through my written works and my actions, as well as to amuse and entertain. We are each personally responsible for our own actions, and equally accountable. Should you happen to disagree with that last statement, or have any personal grievances with the material here, then I urge you to simply find a better use of your time.

Thank you for your most valuable time.


4 thoughts on “How do we preserve our digital legacy, is it possible?

  1. This is an ongoing problem, and as I mentioned, Eric and I started looking at it over 20 years ago. What’s scary is that, to my knowledge, there’s been little progress, not because it’s a hard problem to solve but because no one is particularly bothered to solve it. Corporations can’t make money on a solution and the public, while the now obliquely acknowledge the problem exists, don’t squawk enough to do anything about it.

    Short of push for standards evolution, being rolled into new standards such that old ones are supported, I don’t know what can be done. The fear is that one day JPEG becomes Beta in a VHS world, or printed formats like Word disappear because the Microsofts of the world do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. The problem with digital media as it stands at the moment is that it is expendable, and marketed thusly. It’s all about the immediacy of the moment, which unfortunately is not conducive to supporting a longterm solution to sustainability of digital information. We the people buy have well and truly bought into this disposable virtual culture without a care for what happens next, despite that many of us would feel the loss if all that data were to be lost suddenly. I can’t decide whether it’s a positive thing or not.


  2. It’d be interesting if thoughts of Atlantis, for example, are not based in some historical node, but a future one, and we are merely picking up echo’s of this ressonating back through time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that idea, that certain myths and legends might just be echoes from a potential future. In a way it’s like a seed having a memory of the flower it will become. I don’t believe for one moment that either memory or time function in the way we believe they do. Even science has its doubts.

      Liked by 1 person

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