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Old Digital

edited April 2015
I've been spending a good deal of my days and nights interacting with hard drives since about 1991. Got my first 'laptop'in '92. A weird procession of machines ever since.

As I type, I am transferring the files of a recovered hard drive from 2013 (with contents back to 2009) into a new MacBookPro. "About 6 minutes to go". I have a half dozen or so, more or less obsolete machines stuffed into the deep corners of closets and so forth. Some might boot if I ever found the right old power cord... Some, like my 2000 edition iMac are liable to just smell like sizzling wires while strange lights flicker briefly on the screen.

In "About 2 minutes" some poorly organized old traces of my life will become more or less recoverable on my current personal system. Not sure if I'll ever take the time to dig through it to see if there's anything worth retaining from these 74 GBs.

As the blue line slowly crawls from left to right indicating the transfer of this data from my portable hard-drive enclosure, I thought I'd float these questions past the UrbanHonking cohort:

Have you been dragging dusty, obsolete totems of your digital life through your domestic spaces of recent decades?
How lost do those memories feel? Can you visualize some of what's on there?
Is the resignation that personal data is lost part of the abstract personal quality called 'maturity'?

Or are you the kind of person who has been vigilant against the dimming and incompatibility of your data across new platforms?

Are you cloud hoarding?

A metallic "Pling" just indicated that my memory transfer is complete.


  • Before I even clicked on this thread I knew what it would be about. I have some old drives kicking around and some "broken" ones that I figure one day might be recoverable, but I also have the feeling of "digital hoarding" where I really should just be rid of this junk.

    It seems like a real shame that we schlep all this random and mostly pointless stuff around with us. It's just another one of those "Would rather live in a cabin in the woods" type of things.
  • edited April 2015
    I've lost most of my "digital content" throughout the years but I don't really GAF because I'm not nostalgic for the past and I'm not going to have family to pass any of this shit onto. Life is meaningless! Do a poo on the bus!
  • Yeah, I think my lack of "heirs" is a reason I don't see it as very important.
  • I have an old hard drive with all the files--audio and video--for my opera on it. For years I thought "one day I'll do something with all this, so that all that work that so many people did will not have been in vain." And that day has never come. And I feel weird and emo about it. But I can't get rid of the hard drive. I don't even know if the hard drive works anymore

    other than that, though, not really. We have an old ibook we keep because it has a disc drive

    I love not having heirs
  • It's weird that we have such mixed feelings about this stuff... in the past people would have scrapbooks and albums, and t'would be nbd. Just cool memories.
    Now it's this burden of deciding whether or not to maintain the files and either choices carries weight r.e. your stance on digital life, etc.

    Just sayin!
  • edited April 2015
    I got no heirs but I totally save the drives and try to import their data to new drives.
    It's stuff I did. Maybe some of it was dumb, and some gets deleted, but some is cool and it's not bothering me to keep it. Because I canna see it!
  • Yes, RIP the days of physical photo albums. It will probably make a comeback.
  • when I got my PhD my mother spent weeks painstakingly making me a huge photo album that documents my entire life, from birth, childhood, early papers I wrote, pictures of me with my bro, projects I worked on with my dad, etc., to the final page which shows me receiving my PhD. It's basically my greatest treasure, the main thing I think of grabbing if there is a fire

  • also cool that my life ended on that great day
  • This thread is inspiring me to dig out the box of hard drives in the garage and try to get some data off them. I'm too paranoid to discard/recycle my drives and too lazy to securely reformat so I pull the drive and recycle/donate the rest of the computer. As a result I have all of them going back to late high-school.

    Zip disks! Does anyone remember those? Now all I need is a computer with a SCSI port...

    Other forms of old digital: Look through your email for oldest sent mail and drafts. Download games from your formative years and play on emulators. Try to determine your oldest digital photo available. Go to the Wayback Machine and pull up old versions of your favorite websites.
  • For some reason, even though I know how to properly transfer and old computer to a new computer, I often don't do it, and just let stuff go. If I need something, I reinstall it, if I don't, I just... don't.
  • we are embracing the ephemerality and flux necessitated by late capitalism, in which ever-higher turnover of jobs, fashions, industries, institutions, neighborhoods, etc., is naturalized under the totalizing rhetoric of "everything changes"

    "all that is solid melts into air"
  • The capture and care of old media is a full time job.
  • Mike is right, as I look at my media! It is a thought burden. Not everyone has a f'n presidential library to archive and catalog that. The interesting question for individuals who have had social media since kindergarten and friended 10-hundreds per year. How do you manage a lifetime of that?
  • Someone really should put that opera out! Sell it to netflix.
  • edited April 2015
    I would like to see that opera.

    I have some video somewhere, probably shot in 2006, maybe on Hi-8, or is there such a thing as digital - 8? I remember the output was S - video. It was baby J cavorting on the deck as the Blue Angels flew their F-18s about 200 feet overhead.

    I can see the image in my mind's eye, I see it in the playback screen just after I shot it. That piece of data is at the top of my list. Also, 45 mins or so from J's birth.

    Definitely analogue on that one. Sorry to hijack the thread. This is supposed to be about digital.
  • Yes, there was a thing called digital 8, but it didn't really catch on.
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